I’d been in Berlin for 2 weeks and was starting to get that let’s-see-something-else kinda feeling. I blame this on touring because for 10 months out of the year I’m moving every week or two. Now it’s engrained and at the 2 week mark I’m all “What’s next?”
Plus I realized I only had a month left here in Germany, which sounds like a long time but in reality will fly by in a blink. So, I sat down, wrote down all the places I wanted to see, gave myself a loose schedule and bought a train ticket to Dresden.
Dresden’s Old Town was completely destroyed in World War 2 on February 13, 1945 when the British and American forces firebombed the city and killed 25,000 people. Kurt Vonnegut was a POW here during that time and wrote Slaughterhouse 5 about the experience. You can even take Vonnegut tours here but I didn’t because I’m not really a fan of his and I don’t totally get his angry satiric humor. I realize I’m uncool and now banned from all postmodern book clubs but I digress…
That picture above is of Old Town, which they rebuilt. From wreckage. They used the original masonry as much as possible and painstakingly put together all these historic buildings using mostly donor money. You can see the difference in the old and new stones in the way they weather (and that dome in the middle is nicknamed “the lemon juicer”).
This building, the Zwinger, is across the street from my hotel
Just a giant baroque palatial extravaganza in the middle of the city. As one does. Especially in Europe.
And how giant, you ask? Allow to me to explain, with pictures, that pictures don’t capture the ginormous complex that is the Zwinger. Here’s one direction
Here’s a cherub
These are naked lady butts
This might be the best I can do, which is about a third of the whole thing.
It’s vast. And obviously lovely and stuffed with statuary.
I could have stayed here all day photographing cherubs and awkwardly posing for strangers
But why would I just photograph and pose when this is a museum complex? There are three museums here that the guidebooks say are Amazing and Awesome and NotToBeMissed. Ok, here’s my dirty little German confession: I couldn’t be less interested in museums right now.
I’ve been in approximately 500 museums over the past several years all over the US and Europe. I don’t expect any future art experience to ever rival the Museee D’Orsay in Paris, which literally brought me to tears, nor do I ever expect to be as pleasantly surprised as I was at the Chilhuly rooms in the OKC Art Museum. I think I’ve got museum fatigue. Old Masters and contemporaries can go unseen by me. I’m good. I want to be outside seeing things I can’t see anywhere else.
That said, I might have art fatigue but if I’d had more time or were I ever to come back, I would go to the Mathematics-Physics Salon in the Zwinger or the German Hygiene Museum, both of which seem promisingly intriguing.
Anyway. Do you need another picture of the Zwinger? All you had to do was ask…
And once I tore myself away from this complex, I took Rick Steves’ walking tour of Dresden, which eventually brought me to the Frauenkirche and Martin Luther
This is Martin Luther country so I refreshed myself on the Protestant Reformation and contemplated this church, which was completely flattened during the firebombing. It burned for 2 days and then collapsed and since has been completely rebuilt to the tune of 100 million dollars, mostly privately funded. This chunk of masonry was left out to show the devastation of the bombing, complete with a tiny metal stamp to show where the chunk originated
That chunk is about 3 feet thick. I can’t even visualize what this city looked like in 1945, nor what it was like to jigsaw these buildings back together and figure out what bombed out sections go where.
They rebuilt and repainted the interior of the church to resemble the original, down to the pastel coloring
Once the original cross was uncovered in the rubble, they planted it by one of the doors and made an altar to peace, though I think the entire city is an altar to peace.
And you can pay 8 euro to climb the tower, which I consider a reasonable donation to a church that has undergone as much trauma as this one. Of course I did it. When in Europe, climb a tower.
I’ll show you pictures of that tomorrow.