Dresden was once called the “Florence on the Elbe” being one of Europe’s architectural and artistic highlights. However, much of it was bombed during WWII and much of the city was not much more than a rubble heap. On February 13, 1945, 800 British aircraft showered the city with 2,600 tons of bombs. The Americans followed the next morning with 300 Flying Fortress bombers. It is estimated that 25,000 people were killed, while 13 square miles of the historic city center were destroyed. With temperatures rising to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, the burning city was visible to pilots from 100 miles away. Dresden was a central hub for the Nazi’s and the city remained loyal to them, hence its destruction. Being Saturday evening, there was not much open other than restaurants and bars, but it was lovely seeing the city at this time of day. The streets were crowded with tourists and residents strolling and chatting in various languages. What struck us the most was that it was COLD. We both had liners under our coats, but we could have used gloves and scarves too. The outdoor restaurants all had their heatalators on to keep the hungry crowds warm enough to sit through a meal.
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One of the most amazing sights for us was the Zwinger. This amazing complex wascommissioned by Augustus II (the Strong), the elector of Saxony and king of Poland due to his passion for collecting paintings, sculpture, antiquities, but especially porcelain. His collection included 14,500 pieces of porcelain from China and Japan. He established the porcelain factory at Meissen in 1710. Augustus admitted his passion for porcelain was his maladie de porcelaine (porcelain sickness). Augustus began to build the Zwinger in 1711. It resembles a palace and can easily be mistaken for one. The architect Matthaus Daniel Poppelmann designed it. The Zwinger was destroyed during World War II and partly reconstructed in 1952 and 1963. Now it is fully reconstructed and restored, displaying the famous porcelain collection.
The Dresden Frauenkirche
Another important site to mention is The Dresden Frauenkirche ( Church of Our Lady ), magnificent structure standing tall right in the city center. Was completely destroyed but has been restored to its hitherto grandeur and has been visited by illustrious people such as Obama himself.
In spite of the bombing in WWII, there are still many highlights in this city. The Baroque Frauenkirche or Church of Our Lady is one of them. It is a Protestant sandstone church built in the 18th century, but was leveled during the war. A 12 year reconstruction project was undertaken at the cost of $160 million to bring it back to its original appearance. This was completed in October 2005. Architects and historians were able to piece together the original bricks that were still useable using archives and photos to put them in their original places. The church looks spotted as a result. The dark fire burned bricks stand out from the new replacement bricks surrounding them, giving the church a sense of resurrection or a phoenix rising from the ashes. Of the original stones, 8,425 were salvaged to be part of the reconstruction.