two days in Dresden: baroque buildings, famous painters, and scars

dresdentitleI’m writing this blog entry while in Dresden… I’m actually writing in it on paper as I don’t have my tablet with me and it’s too complicated to do on my Iphone. I’ll type it onto the computer as soon as I’m home. I travelled to Dresden airport by plane on Monday early in the morning, and was lucky to spend two great autumn days in this very interesting city. The sun was shining all the time and the colours were simply amazing, making it really easy to take nice pictures even if I only had my cheap point-and-shoot and my Iphone with me.

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I’m planning to create two Dresden walks for you to download, one for each side of the Elbe river, so watch this space, but today I’m going to focus on my Dresden experience in general. This city is seriously beautiful and not as flooded by tourists as other German cities. The old town is full of majestic buildings, one more beautiful than the other. You can see splendid royal residences, the historic opera house and beautiful churches. But then, when you least expect it, you are reminded of Dresden’s tragic history, of the bombing at the end of World War II, how it killed thousands of people, how it destroyed the whole old city centre and how most of the historic buildings around you are reconstructions. If you look closely at the pictures of the Frauenkirche you can make out that it is made of two kind of stones, dark and light ones. The dark ones are from the original church, they survived the bombing and the fire that destroyed the church. There are still a few building sites around Neumarkt as the reconstructions take a lot of time and money.

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Because of it’s rich past as capital and royal residence for the Kings of Saxony, Dresden was visited by many artists. There are many interesting museums and exhibitions to see all over town, I only visted two, the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister and the Historisches Grünes Gewölbe. I especially liked the first one, I only got there to see Raffaello’s Sistine Madonna with the two grumpy angels, but there were so many other interesting and beautiful paintings. I’m not a big fan of paintings from the eras displayed in their exhibition (15th to 18th century) so I was surprised to like my visit at the museum so much. Of course the Sistine Madonna was wonderful, so was Canaletto’s painting of Dresden and Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus.

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Another highlight of my travel was the visit to Pillnitz Castle, a baroque palace on the bank of the Elbe river. I only had about an hour to visit the park and to see the famous camellia tree that is over 200 years old. Because it is the end of October, there weren’t any flowers in the gardens, but the yellow, orange and red trees made up for that. However, even more than the castle and park itself, I loved the journey there. I traveled there by tourist bus, Dresden has its own hop-on hop-off bus company that I can highly recommend. We passed through the city’s outskirts, past Blasewitz’s villas, in the middle of the more rural area of Loschwitz, over the Blaues Wunder bridge, across the river from the three Elbe castles and it was just wonderful. The driver told us funny stories about the buildings in the different areas and explained the sad outcomes of the flooding of the region during 2002 and 2013.

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But best of all I liked the Zwinger. It was love at first sight, seeing a picture of it on Pinterest was enough and I knew I just had to take this city trip to Dresden. I don’t know how many hours I spent there, but I wished I had enough time to take a picture of every single statue from every different angle with the colourful trees or rococo buildings in the background. The Zwinger used to be an orangery, exhibition gallery and festival arena of the Dresden court (from wikipedia), now there are different museums inside the buildings. You can walk in the garden or on the wall for free, so don’t dare missing it. I would travel back to Dresden just for that…

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Have you ever been to Dresden? If not and you are in the area, don’t miss it!

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