Saturday, May 12, 2012

Letter from Germany, part 3

After spending the weekend in northern Bavaria, we traveled to Dresden, the capital of the state of Saxony. We had visited Dresden in early 1990s and although renovation work on many historic buildings had already begun, much of the city still looked drab and neglected from four decades of neglect under communist rule. Not so now. While construction work is still ongoing in places, an immense amount of progress has been made.

120507_Dresden_014
View of the Frauenkirche

The most obvious hallmark of what has been achieved is the Frauenkirche, the large Lutheran church in the heart of Dresden which was destroyed during the firebombing by the Allies during World War II. Still a ruin during my 1993 visit, the Frauenkirche was painstakingly reconstructed over 13 years and reconsecrated in 2005. The cost of reconstruction was a jaw-dropping €180 million ($250 million at today’s exchange rate).

120507_dresden_frauenkirche_pano2
Frauenkirche

The buildings around the Frauenkirche are magnificent, recalling the splendor of the time before the world turned dark in the late 1930s.

120507_dresden_pano
Academy of Fine Arts
120507_Dresden_035
Pedicabs in front of the Frauenkirche

I’m not a fan of overly ornate Baroque architecture, but I was entranced by the myriad intricate details evident everywhere.

120507_Dresden_056
Altar
120507_Dresden_067
Cupola

After paying what I thought was a hefty fee of €8 (about $10.50), my brother and I climbed to the top of the cupola…

120507_Dresden_077
 

…in hopes of catching a panoramic view of the city. What I saw surpassed my wildest expectation. It was like flying over downtown Dresden at a low altitude. This view of the Elbe River was my favorite.

120507_dresden_frauenkirche_pano1
View of the Elbe River
120507_Dresden_131
Academy of Fine Arts
120507_Dresden_129
Academy of Fine Arts
120507_Dresden_117
A green oasis on top of the roof
120507_Dresden_113
View towards Dresden Castle
120507_Dresden_115
I couldn’t get enough of the view
120507_Dresden_127
A less charming part of the panorama: a residential highrise built during communist rule

We then continued on past Dresden Castle and the Semperoper to the Zwinger, a Rococo palace built by Augustus the Strong in the early 1700s to house exhibition galleries.

120507_dresden_theaterplatz_pano
Theaterplatz with Semperoper (left) and Dresden Castle (right)
120507_Dresden_159
Trees in front of the Zwinger. I saw many of these but was never able to figure out what they were. A group of Japanese tourists got very excited at the sight of these trees. They called out a Japanese name but I wasn’t even to memorize it.
120507_Dresden_165
I hate pansies but I had to make my peace with them because they were everywhere
                                                                                                                                       
120507_Dresden_189
 120507_Dresden_201
Architectural details from the Zwinger
120507_Dresden_Zwinger_pano
Zwinger panorama

Leaving the historic buildings behind, we walked through the pedestrian shopping district. The architecture there is much more utilitarian and drab. Many buildings were constructed during communist rule when esthetics was not a priority. However, the city is trying to beautify the shopping district with public art. I particularly liked these two examples:

120507_Dresden_267
 
120507_Dresden_260
 
120507_Dresden_263
 

And since this is a blog about plants and gardening, here are two cold-hardy succulents I spotted:

120507_Dresden_001
Sedum species
120507_Dresden_292
House leek (Sempervivum sp.)

Tomorrow, in my final post from my trip to Germany, I’ll take to the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. I hadn’t even heard of this area until recently but it turned out to be one of the most beautiful parts of Germany I have ever seen.

Related posts:

Letter from Germany, part 1

Letter from Germany, part 2

Letter from Germany, part 3

Letter from Germany, part 4

2 comments:

  1. As one who enjoys the contrasts I appreciate seeing the stark lines of the "communist" buildings along with the more ornate architectural styles. While the residential high-rise appears a little opressive at least they look to have balconies!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful city, and like danger garden I like the mix of the different architectural styles.

    I think the entrance fee to get that view was worth it. :-)

    ReplyDelete