Dresden, Florence of the Elbe river, May 18-20, 2006
30.09.2006 16 °C
We left Berlin in the early morning by train to travel to Dresden. We heard that it's also known as Florence Of The Elbe river because of its Baroque architecture, a statement first used by poet Herder. After spending time in two large metropolises, Dresden seemed like a small picturesque town. Like Berlin, Dresden was going through a lot of construction. But, since it was part of Eastern Germany, the renovations have only begun during the last 15 years, the Old Town area had been left in ruins. So they still have a lot of catching up to do if they wish to restore Dresden to her former glory. Most of its beautiful historic buildings had been damaged or demolished during the Second World War.
Dresden's pride and joy, the Frauenkirche church (Church of Our Lady) was finished only last year in October. The dark bricks scattered throughout her pretty Baroque facade, which make up about a third, are original bricks that were salvaged from her ruins. It's distinctive bell shaped dome is now part of Dresden's skyline again. The doors were open to the church so we went inside to take a look around. It is truly beautiful inside, especially the gilded altar and ceiling frescoes.
In front of the Frauenkirche, in the plaza, is Martin Luther's statue. Martin Luther, a German religious reformer, who lived from 1483 - 1546, founded the Lutheran Church. He began the Reformation when he nailed 95 theses to the Catholic Wittenberg church door. They contained info on papal abuses, the sales of indulgences, etc.
Dresden also has an amazingly beautiful palace called the Zwinger. It is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture which was first built in 1710. The palace complex consists of pavilions, courtyards, galleries, staircases, fountains, etc. all surrounding a large open esplanade.
The main function of the buildings at the Zwinger has been to house museums. Today there is the Porcelain Collection, Old Masters Gallery, the Armoury, Historical Museum, and the Zoology Museum.
I visited most of the museums and you can easily spend the entire day here. The Baroque architecture was so beautiful and ornate. I took lots of close up photos of statues, stone carvings, pillars, etc.
You can freely wander the grounds but you must pay to view the many museums to see their vast collections. You can also walk on some of the gallery roofs which allows a better view of the fine detailing in the architecture. You can walk through the arches of a tower called the Crown Gate, which was the palace's official main entrance. It's topped by a golden crown being supported by golden eagles.
There are also many waterfountains and pools on the grounds os the palace. The most elaborate is the Bath Of The Nympths. The imaginative decor includes dolphins, nymphs, tritons. The water flows through a series of cascades, spouts, pools, and statues.
Just across the road from the Zwinger Palace is another beautiful building, the Semper Opera House, built in the early Italian Renaissance style. This opera house has been destroyed twice, and was finally reconstructed in 1985. The inside decor is absolutely breathtaking with its marble pillars, gilded chandeliers, ceiling frescoes, and numerous works of art along the edges of the ceiling.
Back on the streets, there is an interesting courtyard called the Stable Courtyard or Stallhof. This courtyard was formerly used for staging jousting competitions. There are still bronze pillars containing rings that the knights would have tried to hit with their lances, and a watering trough for the horses.
The open arcades are decorated with coats of arms, statues of hunting trophies like deer and ibex, and murals on the walls.
The Residenzschloss castle is the former royal residence of the royal Wettin dynasty. The castle is really a large complex of impressive Renaissance buildings grouped around three main courtyards. It's construction spanned many centuries, from 12th to the late 19th century. Reconstruction began in 1986, and today there are still a few buildings behind tarps and scaffolding. Today these buildings contain museums housing some very impressive jewellry collections, like he Green Vault.