Dresden is a city that is rebuilding itself daily. Dresden citizens are working to make Dresden the cultural and artistic mecca it was before World War II and the dramatic firebombing of 1945 that made the city a burned out pile of rubble.
Our hotel looked out at the Frauenkirche, a symbol of the spirit and tenaciousness of the citizens of Dresden. This exquisite, baroque church was, until 1989, a pile of burnt stone. The people of Dresden saw it as a silent symbol of the devastation of war and a place for peaceful protest. As an outgrowth of the reunification of Germany in 1989, citizens came together to rebuild. In 1994, the first stone was placed and on the 30th of October in 2005, the completed church was consecrated. Note the dark stones in the photo below; these were from the original church and through a computer program, were placed in their original positions. Dresden is building itself into the city it once was and into a new city for a new age.
We took the Stadrundfahrt Dresden sightseeing bus for a city tour. Although we are staying in the heart of old town, there is lots more to see in Dresden, and this bus will take you there and be back every half hour to pick you up. Stops along the way include the Albrechtsberg Palace, the “Transparent” Factory of the Volkswagen Group, The Pfunds Dairy, which is considered the most beautiful dairy in the world, and much more.
We visited the Zwinger, a must-see in Dresden for its ornate architecture and formal gardens. And then took a 90 minute cruise on the Elbe on a steam driven paddle-boat. This trip takes you past palaces and beneath bridges, one cheerfully named the Blue Wonder, because of its blue color and the fact that it spans the Elbe with no pilings in the river itself. It was a wonder of engineering, at the time. Sachsische Dampfschiffahrt operates the largest and oldest fleet of historic paddle steamers in the world and we had some great views from the river.
We met a representative of the Dresden-Werbung and Tourism Office for lunch at the beautiful Kurfstenhof Restaurant. After lunch we visited the New Green Vault in the reconstructed Dresden Royal Palace. Intricately carved ivory, jewels and gold beyond imagination are incorporated into ornate works of art and craftsmanship, all part of the collection of August the Strong.
We also were awed by Der Fürstenzug. “The Procession of Princes” is made up of 25,000 Meissen porcelain tiles that were taken from an earlier 1589 wall fresco and later sgraffito by Wilhelm Walther. Created between 1904 and 1907 the Fürstenzug depicts images of princes, kings and other dignitaries on horseback. The 335 ft long panorama is located on the north wall of the Stallhof on Augustusstrasse from near the Semper Opera over to the Frauenkirche. Fortunately, only about 200 tiles had to be repaired because of WWII damage.
Dresden is a must see when visiting Germany. Or, if Prague is on the agenda, Dresden is a short train-ride away.
Written by Terri Fogarty for EuropeUpClose.com