Dresden : Beauty from the ashes on the banks of the River Elbe.

Dresden Travel Blog

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Bridge across the River Elbe.

Another farewell to a friend.  The last for quite a while.  Another day.  Another train.  The day commences overcast, yet no rain.  The dull greyish sky reflects my own rather fuggish, tired state of mind.  I can’t seem to shake myself awake this morning.

 

Destination Prague… but first, on route, a good portion of a day in Dresden (where I must get a travel connection anyway).  Dresden is a city I know very little about aside, of course, from the rather shameful WWII ‘firestorm’ bombing raids of my own nation and its allies that to all intents and purposes destroyed the city in 1945 (as also recalled in Kurt Vonnegut Jnr's 'Slaughter House 5' ).

The Katholische Hofkirche Dresden.

 

My backpack dumped in a station locker I first check out some logistics (when and how to carry on to Prague today? Tomorrow? Etc…) and then stroll away from the train station/ retail area of the city towards the historical heart of the city and the banks of the river Elbe.  Trams cut across the streets everywhere I go.

 

There is a high concentration of architecturally eye-catching buildings at the city’s heart, many severely damaged but not raised to the ground in 1945 mercifully for posterity.  Restoration has achieved a lot in the intervening decades.  These buildings offer a pleasing juxtaposition to the rather bland retail malls and higher-rise buildings that proliferate nearer the train station.

Inside the grounds of the Zwinger.
  There are also plenty of wide open spaces here as with Berlin.  The older buildings never feel too suffocated by the new.  Many of these impressive older buildings, adorned often with a fine display of carved statuary, carry quite a brooding brown-black besmirched colouring on sections of their façades.  Part of me can’t help but wonder whether this is the usual general effect of time and city pollution on the stone of whether - more poignantly - do they remain as purposeful soot-stained, charred looking reminders of the firestorm unleashed by the allied bombs?

 

I have a quick peak inside Das Rathaus (the Town Hall) and then admire the white-domed Frauenkirche church.  Today Greenpeace are protesting against Mercedes Benz for some reason or other in the plaza in front of this building.

Water feature inside the Zwinger grounds.
  I then continue on to the Brulsche Terrasse promenade that follows the bridge-spanned stretch of the river Elbe.  More fine buildings proliferate here.  Various museums, works of contemporary and historic public art and monuments, churches and the opera house.  Next, a stroll around and inside the Katholische Hofkirche Dresden, a cathedral originally constructed in the mid-18th Century, it was largely destroyed by bombing on 13 Feb 1945 but its structure and large quantities of it’s art works have been gracefully restored over the healing decades since.

 

The weather has by now turned very hot indeed so it’s time to remain outside and have a walk around what I think is referred to as the ‘Zwinger’, a former Baroque palace (I think?), now turned art gallery.  I have neither the time nor the inclination for a heavy dose of culture today but pleasingly the palace grounds are free to enjoy including the possibility of strolling up and around it’s wide-pathed, statue-populated ‘ramparts’.

The Zwinger, Dresden.
  A great way to see both the palace and to some extent the city around abouts.  A very pleasant way to end my brief time in Dresden.

 

Heading east on the train the shift in scenery as we progress along the banks of what I assume still to be the Elbe (?) is captivating and atmospheric.  Rocky hillsides have begun to spring up all around us, covered all over with dark green fir trees.  Houses nestle along either side of the river, some perched precariously like pretty little bird boxes on the distant riverbank amidst the trees and rocky crags.  Small clusters of them seem almost to shelter, huddled together for warmth and protection from their intimidating natural surroundings.  They snuggle deep into the large recesses that occasionally open up into the hillsides.

Zwinger statue (3)
The surface of the river is being disturbed.  I can’t make it out to begin with but rain is now falling all around.  The evening sky prematurely darkened by clouds appears more threatening that before.  Misty threads crawl eerily through the treetops on the far bank and my vision is now obscured by rivulets of rain water pouring along the trains window panes.

 

I arrive in Prague not late, but after dark.  No rain.  That was just an atmospheric flurry whilst I was protected by the train it seems.  Not having originally planned to come to the Czech Republic and having done zero research on the country I’ve just ploughed straight into town without the faintest clue as to what the national currency is or how its converts between the British Pound etc… I just ram my card into the first bankomat I come across and see what happens.

  Various LARGE denominations ranging from 200 ‘somethings’ to 5,000+ ‘somethings’ (Krona/ crowns it turns out) are presented to me and in fear of accidentally extracting my entire life savings at the press of a single button I opt for the ‘small’ 200 krona option (about £7 - £8 I think?).

 

I check into the Chili Hostel (impetuously booked in an internet café in Dresden earlier today) and take myself off for a delicious, very affordable meal before heading ‘home’ to sleep.  Prague awaits me in the morning.

Stevie_Wes says:
Yeah it was a lovely city (what I saw of it) and it's only a shame that it was one of my "passing through" destinations with not much time. Great buildings (as is true of soooo many European cities). Thanks for all your encouragement gang! x
Posted on: Oct 06, 2008
Biglush_23 says:
Love ur pix ^^ i cant believe i may also be on this journey for the next 2 years hahahaha!!! Keep those fires burning inside ^^ we'll be back here tending the flame!!!
Posted on: Oct 06, 2008
keeweeset says:
Dresden looks like a great destination! =)
Posted on: Oct 06, 2008
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Bridge across the River Elbe.
Bridge across the River Elbe.
The Katholische Hofkirche Dresden.
The Katholische Hofkirche Dresden.
Inside the grounds of the Zwinger.
Inside the grounds of the Zwinger.
Water feature inside the Zwinger g…
Water feature inside the Zwinger …
The Zwinger, Dresden.
The Zwinger, Dresden.
Zwinger statue (3)
Zwinger statue (3)
The atrium of the Rathaus (Town Ha…
The atrium of the Rathaus (Town H…
Dome within the Rathaus.
Dome within the Rathaus.
On the banks of the Elbe.
On the banks of the Elbe.
An amazing mosaic!
An amazing mosaic!
Inside the Katholische Hofkirche,
Inside the Katholische Hofkirche,
The Dresden Opera House.
The Dresden Opera House.
Greenpeace protest against Mercede…
Greenpeace protest against Merced…
The River Elbe.
The River Elbe.
The Zwinger courtyard.
The Zwinger courtyard.
Zwinger statue (1)
Zwinger statue (1)
Zwinger statue (2)
Zwinger statue (2)
Dresden train station.
Dresden train station.
Dresden
photo by: aloneinthecrowd