Sep 30, 2008

Clueless in Dresden

First of all: My apologies to my readers. Before I left for my trip, I did no research or reading or buying of guide book. Truth is, I plumb forgot. Second of all: Apologies to myself. I felt left out, unprepared and extremely clueless, especially in Dresden. We had an excellent Swedish guide (which is par for the course on Norwegian tours - "Local guide speaks Scandinavian" meaning you'll get a Swede) who was an architect and in love with Dresden, and took us through some amazing neighborhoods, and all I got out of it was that last names ending in -witz are Sorb.

So I bumbled around in Dresden, me and my camera, and snapped a bunch of baroque buildings, but never felt awed. Isn't that weird? Look at these pictures from the complex called Zwinger! How can one not feel awe?

The guide took great pains to explain to us that the black is actually the oxidation of the naturally occurring iron in the sandstone. Me, I was amused by the naughty-looking Pan/Bacchus creature; it was the only thing that got me a bit interested. I kept waiting for myself to wake up. I enjoyed the long mural of former rulers of Dresden and Saxon (Sachsen), made up 25,000 tiles, and I enjoyed the typical Dresden scene, and the not-so-typical wedding cake-like newer buildings. But although they were fun to photograph, I wasn't moved.

Dresden (and Berlin) have been busily restoring and recreating their cities after the destruction of World War II (the bombing of Dresden on February 13, 1945, made Dresden famous). Only the blackness of the sandstone reveals the true age of a building.

Just when I thought nothing in Dresden would impress me, I wandered into the Frauenkirche (Our Lady's Church).

The church was bombed, too, on February 13, but stood until February 15, when it finally collapsed from the damage. It took 13 years to rebuild the church, a reconstruction completed in 2006. They used some original sandstone, as you can see on the left.

The story I was told was that they found the melted gold from the cross, and this gold was given to an English goldsmith to refashion into a cross. It turned out that the goldsmith was the son of the pilot who had bombed the church in 1945. It's a nice story. It's a gorgeous cross. But nothing prepared me for the feel of the church itself. There was no photography allowed inside, more's the pity, because it was gorgeous inside, done up in soft colors, mostly pink, and unusually elaborate for a Protestant church. But when I walked in, I felt something for the first time in Dresden: I felt the love that had helped rebuild the church, mend old wounds and hatred, focus on a peaceful future, a prayer for such hate and destruction never happening again. Inside the Frauenkirche was the most wonderful space to be in in all of Dresden.

3 comments:

Sparkling Red said...

It seems that you are not easily impressed! I guess awe is not a predictable emotion. Still, the photos are beautiful.

Yesterday I heard that all over the world stock markets are crashing, but for whatever reason Norway's is doing fine. I thought of you and smiled. :-)

alice said...

Very nice! I'm impressed! ;-D

Keera Ann Fox said...

Spark, usually I am impressed. It's one of the reasons I like to travel: To be wowed by something I don't see every day.

Norway's stock markets (and bank manager heart rates) are fluctuating along with the rest of the world. We're just still waiting for the shit to hit the fan, but are also trying to reach the fan first. :-)

Alice, I'm glad somebody was impressed with Dresden! :-)