Prague to Dresden

Trip Start Sep 24, 2012
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Trip End Nov 02, 2012


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Flag of Germany  , Saxony,
Sunday, October 21, 2012

Early rise to catch train to Dresden. As we left our apartment the place looked deserted, so strange when the four of us had made our mark on the place as 'home' so quickly over the past 5 days. As experienced metro users we had an easy train trip to the main station as a convoy of travellers with trailing luggage. Tickets booked we set out to spend our remaining kroner as we move to the Euro zone again. Michael was shopping for chocolate and pastries, Ruth for fruit and gummy bears.
We got a compartment for ourselves and after a 21/2 hour comfortable journey we arrived in Dresden.
First impression leaving the station as we made our way to our hotel was of a very modern city, not just post WW2 but very modern.
Due to a city marathon our room wasn't ready so we went off to explore and
booked a city bus and walking tour for a 4 pm start. We had some time til 4 so we could relax in the welcome sunshine (after 2 days of grey in Prague) in the the Zwinger (meaning cage, as it was meant as a protection barrier not a palace) garden. This was a strange layout as it was high Rococo, early Roman and later designs and all the buildings surrounding the garden were only corridors, never rooms of a palace. Over the years there was an Orangerie (as the European elite always sought to grow the desired but hard to obtain citrus fruits) and storage.

Our tour guide was fantastic as he was so knowledgable about Dresden's early history, the WW2 bombing, the reconstruction and the communist era impact on this, then post communism Saxony. The most outstanding part of the tour was how he demonstrated the pre bombing, post bombing conditions and the most recent and ongoing reconstruction. I loved his history stories as he added the personal detail e.g. Augustus the Strong in the late 17th C and his passion for woman an porcelain, collecting much Meissen and so many mistresses he had 356 children.

The history of the Kings of Saxony has been depicted in a 220 metre long wall mural of all since the 11000's. Completed in 1876, it took the designer 9 years to conceptualise his brief of depicting 800 years of kings history in 220 metres, and several years to draw in sgraffito (scratching across layers of colours to develop the picture). It unfortunately deteriorated quickly and in the early 1900's the whole art work was made in the local fine Meissen porcelain. So for over 100 years now it looks as good as new!!!
So many building were left as bomb sites until after 1989 and many have only been rebuilt in the last decade. The Church of Our Lady is one of the latest rebuilds after almost 60 years as rubble when it collapsed in on itself the day after the bombing due to vibrations.
With the mass destruction of the city it is incredible to see how they have worked to rebuild the old city, whilst trying to allow for new architecture and buildings. I had seen so many TV images previously, but to walk amongst the elaborate old buildings which are still being reconstructed it was awe inspiring and had such a vitality; the pride and enthusiasm of our Syrian born but long time Dresden Al all adding to this.
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