Florence on the Elbe, reconstructed

On Tuesday, I paid my first visit to Dresden, a city that’s gone through three distinct phases:

1. The beautiful stage. Before World War II, Dresden was referred to as Florence on the Elbe. It was filled with churches, palaces, castles, and such — a city with aesthetics to match its 800-year history.

2. The destruction stage. In February 1945, Allied bombs rained down on the city, destroying 80% of it. Tens of thousands of people died, though the exact tally is disputed.

3. The rebuilding phase. This is where we are now. There’s construction all over the city, which is now a strange hybrid of the old old, the reconstructed old, the drab Communist, and the sparkling new.

A little of each of these can be seen in the city’s Museum of Military History, which reopens to the public tomorrow after a dramatic redesign by Daniel Libeskind. I wrote about the museum for the LA Times in a story that appeared today; check it out.

But since that story really only addresses the museum, I thought I’d take you all on a little private tour of the city. Ready? Here we go.

First, a view of the city from the top of the museum:

Can’t see much from there? Let’s get a closer look. Here’s the view from the Neustadt — the new city — across the Elbe from the Altstadt:

OK, now we’re on the bridge from the Neustadt to the Altstadt:

Let’s take a step into the Altstadt proper. Upon crossing the bridge, we’re greeted by the sight of the old castle. Here it is — but first, a quick legend to accompany the tour: When you see blackened stones, they’re generally ones that survived the war. When you see lighter ones, they’re probably reconstructions. Most of the old buildings have a combination of the two.

Here’s the famous Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), which was destroyed in the war, and whose reconstruction was completed in 2004 — a major milestone for the city:

And here’s the gilded and pastel-y inside of the church:

And, finally, the garden of the Zwinger palace:


One Response to Florence on the Elbe, reconstructed

  1. Damien says:

    I’ve always wanted to visit Dresden. These pictures are amazing, and only whet my appetite more.

    Love the LA Times story as well.

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