Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dresden, Germany

Dresden by Night
Dresden is a quaint town about 2 hours south of Berlin.  We left Prague after dinner, and drove to Dresden in the dark.  While looking for our hotel (the one that we wanted to stay in... we hadn't actually reserved a room yet), we saw a beautiful view of the City of Dresden so after checking in, we walked back to take a photo.  Unfortunately it was after just midnight so the lights on a few of the buildings had just gone out.  On our way back to the hotel, we went on a search for ice cream, but didn't find any.  However, we did find several live bands.

Dresden is the capital of the free state of Saxony in Germany.  It sits on the Elbe River not far north of the Czech border.  Dresden was known as the Jewel Box because of it's baroque and rococo city center.  Unfortunately, the entire city center was destroyed when the city was bombed by the Allies near the end of World War II.  Parts of the city center have been reconstructed, but the bombing, along with 40 years of the Communist reign,  considerably changed the face of the city.

Dresden Frauenkirche
The morning after we arrived, it was raining (lightly), but we ventured out anyway.  We were only out for a few minutes before it started raining harder, but I did manage to take a few photos of the Dresden Frauenkirche before we headed back to the hotel.

The Dresden Frauenkirche was originally constructed between 1726 and 1743 but was destroyed in 1945 during WWII.  It was reconstructed and has been open since 2005.  The church and the Neumarkt Square surrounding it are to regain their status as the historical center of the city.  Neumarkt Square is being gradually reconstructed to follow its former opulent baroque design.  It was originally built in 1548 but was seriously damaged during the seven years war.  The square was later rebuilt in the simpler late baroque style.

Not long before I went to Germany, I saw a post about a building in the art district of Dresden that plays music when it rains.  I didn't know if we would be able to visit Dresden, and if we did, I didn't expect it to be raining.  Since it was, we decided to head to Neustadt Kunsthofpassage to see the singing house created by sculptor Annette Paul and designers Christoph Rossner and Andre Tempel, who all live in the musical home.

The Courtyard of Elements, home to the singing house, is also home to a building with a yellow facade with aluminum panels (above), representing the light and another with a green facade adorned with giraffes and monkeys representing the animals.  The rain stopped as we were looking for the singing house so after seeing it, we headed back to the city center.

Semper Opera House
The Semper Opera House (Semperoper) in Dresden is the most famous opera house in Germany.  It houses the Saxon State Orchestra, one of the oldest and best-known orchestras in the world.  The opera house was built between 1838 and 1841.  It closed in August of 1944 and was destroyed 6 months later in the Allied attacks.  It was reconstructed and reopened again in 1985.

Zwinger Palace
The Zwinger, designed by court architect Matthaeus Daniel Poeppelmann, was constructed in stages from 1710 to 1728.  It was originally designed as an orangery and a setting for court festivities.  

Zwinger Palace
The name derives from the German word Zwinger (outer ward of a concentric castle).  It was for the cannons placed between the outer wall and the major wall.  The Zwinger was not enclosed until the Semper Gallery, designed by Gottfried Semper, was built on the norther side between 1847 and 1855.

Dresden Royal Palace and Cathedral
Dresden's royal palace was once the hub of power for the Saxon princes and kings.  It was first mentioned in the 14th century as a castle complex and the four-winged structure was developed in the 15th century.  It was destroyed by fire in 1701 and was reconstructed under Augustus the Strong.  The palace once again burned down in the WWII attacks, and most of the valuable interior furnishings were lost.  It was reconstructed in 1985 as a museum

Hofkirche from the Front
The cathedral, Hofkirche, is Dresden's youngest baroque building.  The Hofkirche was constructed between in the baroque style between 1739 and 1755 by Italian architect Gaetano Chiaveri.  The Hofkirche has been the Cathedral of the Dresden-Meissen Diocese since 1980.

The Kreuzkirche was built in the late baroque and early Classiscistic style between 1764 and 1800.  The church is the home of the Kreuzchor boy's choir, whose tradition reaches back more than 700 years.

Inside the Kreuzkirche

The Fuerstenzug is a large mural of a mounted procession of the rulers of Saxony.  It was originally painted between 1871 and 1876.  To make the work waterproof, it was replaced with Meissen porcelain tiles between 1904 and 1907 (approximately 23,000 of them).  It's located on the outer wall of the Stallhof (stables courtyard) of Dresden Castle.

We only spent a few hours exploring Dresden, but it was another city worth the visit (and another city that we could have spent much more time exploring).  After spending a few hours exploring, we continued back to Berlin, where there was much more to see!

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