Saturday, 15 August 2009

Dresden

Dresden lies about 200km south of Berlin, and is about three hours away from us using the red RE3 regional train (change at Elsterwerda) and a Schönes Wochenende Ticket.

We went today with a group of friends hoping to take some lovely photos between us of this historic city. Had we checked on the Internet first we might have picked a quieter date, as Dresden was holding its Stadtfest . Yes, it was busy. Very busy!

By the way, I'd just like to record my thought that on these excursions with like-minded souls from Berlin, I have met in one year more interesting people from all around the world, than I have in the previous ten years. For example, our group consisted of a Canadian, a Malaysian, two delightful women from Guatemala, and of course us two Brits.

Anyway, back to Dresden, and a mandatory tourist-photo of the wonderfully baroque Frauenkirche (took whilst trying to shoot over the heads of about a hundred wurst-munching tourists):

What is amazing about this church is that it lay as a pile of blackened rubble from its near-destruction during the war, through the period of the DDR regime, until reconstruction work began in 1994. Only in 2005 was its rebuilding completed, and its distinctive dome with gilded cross took its place once more on the Dresden skyline. Poignantly, the 23-foot tall cross was designed by London-based goldsmith Alan Smith, whose father Frank was an aircrew member who took part in the bombing of Dresden in the Second World War.

Indeed what is remarkable about Dresden is not that it has so much architectural splendour like the Frauenkirche, than that it has any pre-War buildings at all. This is because of a deeply shameful episode when between 13th and 15th February 1945 it was unmercifully incendiary-bombed by allied air forces to such an intensity that a firestorm destroyed most of the (inhabited) centre of the city.

Here are some more of my photos of Dresden (click to make bigger), and whilst you look at them remember that these buildings were all but destroyed in a conflagration raging over a few days and nights in 1945. If only the lives of the civilian families who also burnt horribly to death could be reconstructed too.

The Residenzschloss, viewed from the Zwinger Palace:

The inner courtyard of the Zwinger Palace:

Das Kronentor (crown tower) at the Zwinger Palace:

The Academy of Art (Kunstakadamie) dome:
The Academy of Art (Kunstakadamie) from the side, with not much sunlight reaching it! My Beloved thinks that when they built Dresden they should have positioned it on the North bank of the river Elbe. I cannot but agree, but I think the photographers on the reconstruction committee were out-voted by those more concerned about historical accuracy. Anyway, it means the grand Brühlschen Terrasse, which stretches along the riverbank from the Kunstakadamie, is North-facing. Ah well.

The Wallpavillion at the North end of the Zwinger:

The Dreikönigskirche rising above the baroque residences on Königstraße:


Theaterplatz:
Supposedly Japanese faces on the Japanisches Palais. Nobody Japanese actually ever resided in the palace (which is just as well), and it got its name because it was built to house an important Japanese porcelain collection, the Far East being the first to make such a thing, and Dresden (like nearby Meissen) pinched their ideas (if not the technology) back in the 18th Century. Anyway, these figures at least seem happy about it:

An der Frauenkirche. What the two people in period costume are doing up there, I don't know. Perhaps they are employed by the Tourist Office? Or maybe they just like posing:

Angel skyline from the Elbe:

Nymph fountain at the Zwinger Palace:

Another fountain above the Zwinger Palace:

Just to show that Dresden isn't just rebuilding its past but has modern architecture as well, here's the new 'Next' store they are building on Prager Strasse ...


... where there are also fountains which aren't spouted by fantastical fish or bathing nymphs:

With all this marvelous architecture and history you would think that Dresden might be on the Unesco World Heritage list, or something. Well it was placed on it in 2006, then taken off it again when the ugly Waldschlösschen Bridge was built. Dresden is only the second ever World Heritage site to be removed from the register. I just hope the bridge was worth it.

My impression of Dresden is that it reminded me a bit of Bath, in England, except with the neo-Classicism of Bath gone a bit Baroque bonkers. And Dresden's modern shopping precincts are a lot nicer than Bath's Southgate Shopping Centre of course.

You get stranger buskers than you do in Bath though!

Nah, she's making a brave public protest on behalf of PETA actually (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), which as a vegetarian is an organisation I (mostly) agree with, so all power to her! (She had just been wrapped in polythene like meat in a supermarket. Hmm, maybe she wasn't demonstrating for veganism after all, but against cannibalism?)

Will we be back? I think yes, but next time we will come on a quieter day!

I leave you with a final photo of the Frauenkirche and the Neumarkt Platz:


4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the look at Dresden. I have been wanting to visit for some time. Now, I surely will.

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  2. As always a delight to read. Man we are going to have to come to Berlin for 3 weeks next time! Hats off to Hamburger girl! Tx

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  3. Your post is really very informative and your pictures have really took me to the way to think what was the situation at that time

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  4. Great post!
    I spent a couple of days there and really enjoyed it.
    Couldn't believe the whole place was flattened during WW2- they have done an utterly remarkable job of rebuilding it.

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