The Riesensaal is true to its name in more than one way: Its designation originally derives from the painted depictions of giants on the walls, but the pillar-free space was also giant in itself, measuring 741 square metres, and was used for courtly celebrations, masquerade balls and weddings. However, when August the Strong died in 1733, the Dresden Residenzschloss (Royal Palace) lost this space because his son, August III (1696–1763) subdivided it into smaller rooms, including a chapel for his wife, Maria Josepha of Austria.
280 years after it was lost, the Riesensaal reopened in 2013, resplendent in its original dimensions, yet with completely modern interior architecture. It now serves to present almost 350 objects from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries: suits of armour that covered the bodies of horses and riders, valuable lances, swords and other parade weaponry. Through the windows, visitors see the palace square, where men once fought wearing several kilograms of steel: The din must have been deafening.
Originally practiced in preparation for battle, by the end of the fifteenth century tournaments began to play an important role in courtly ceremony and festivity. And the ruling houses fought with style: In their aesthetics, the objects on show in the Riesensaal hardly disclose the purpose they once served. In the place of computer-aided animation, reconstructed fighting scenes take visitors on a visual journey through time. Completing this picture are paintings commissioned by Christian I of Saxony (1560–1591) in honour of his father August, Elector of Saxony (1526–1586), which depict tournaments of that era.