Wednesday, November 11, 2009

wiederaufgebaut

[ Rebuilt ]

Trumping my hasty first impressions of Dresden, as I walked within the center of Dresden – with the Theaterplatz, the Theater Square, grandly hugging the River Elbe – I quickly was being introduced to the reason why Dresden was once considered The Florence of the North.

At least this used to be the nickname of the city before its devastating destruction during WW2, but what may be equally incredible is the fact that this city has rebuilt itself, and the churches, palaces, opera and theater houses have all been reinstated, and the city can now reclaim its prestige of being a historical and cultural center within Germany.

There were not many people out and about, and there didn’t seem to be a lively atmosphere in the market squares [which would completely change come Saturday ], but nonetheless, I became in awe of the incredible sandstone wonders that surrounded me.

On our guided tour I was able to grasp a little more of the history of the city – albeit not all, it WAS in German – but I did my best. The tour was half in a bus and half on foot, and normally I enjoy seeing a city inside and out on my own terms, but every once and a while, a tourist experience can be a refreshing change of pace.

[ I met up once again with my friend Maria from Turku, Finland! ]

Outside the center of the city, we drove for several minutes through forests with beautiful colors carpeting the forest floor reminding us that the first days of chilly November were upon us. The forests weren’t just a detour however – Dresden claims to be one of the greenest cities in Germany boasting over 63% of the city being covered in forests. From the pedestrian street crossings of the downtown area, Dresden drastically changes only minutes from the city center, as the forests overwhelm the scene and the other landmarks spread in the outskirts of the city are seemingly hidden amongst the multi-colored fall woods.

Along the Elbe river and peering through the dense forest, villa quarters can be found along the river. These huge estates, some even castles, are true spectacles and from a distance, one can only imagine their vastness inside since the building tiers itself up the hills edge along the river’s edge.

Schloβ Albrechtsberg, a Castle within the Dresden quarters of Loschwitz, was one of these huge estates, and truly proved why Loschwitz was one of the most expensive and extravagant places to live in all of Europe in the early 1900’s.

Returning to the city center to complete the tour on foot, I was able to get a much closer perspective of the Dresden Castle, the Zwinger Palace and the Theaterplatz.

Similar to Wawel in Kraków, Dresdner Schloβ had different construction periods, and the completed building had attributes of Renaissance, Baroque and Classicist styles.

Dresden’s history actually is directly involved with Polish history as well, since one of the leading figures in building Dresden up to become a cultural center King of Poland, August II – or August II der Starke [the Strong]

Through personal union – a governance when one monarch rules over more than one land as a combined group – August II der Starke was both the ruler of Saxony, Frederick Augustus I as well as August II King of Poland. He commissioned many of the large, grand architectural projects in Dresden including the Hofkirche – the church of the royal household, which was a catholic church. At the time, Dresden was predominantly a Protestant city, however, Polish monarchs needed to be Catholic, so August the strong therefore built the impressive Catholic Hofkirche across from the Zwinger Palace and on the Theaterplatz.

[ A fascinating glass dome over the rebuilt castle [ giving a feeling of being in a bubble frozen in time ] that preserves the courtyard with the stones appearance of newness which won't oxidate over the years from outside weather - one of the many details within the city that subtly remind that it has been rebuilt giving opportunities to address the atrocities of war, but also the perspective of what these great architectural models would have looked like in their prime. ]

This incredible church was only the beginning of the architectural marvels – part for their historical significance, and also for their reconstructed states – since a few other historical ties to August II der Starke involved other incredible buildings within Dresden as well.

1 comment:

  1. Chris, these pictures are beautiful and your writing even more so. I am so very proud of you for hanging in there, I cant imagine how difficult it must be! But Im sure its a great time, too! Keep it up :)

    Love, Mona

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