This past weekend, PC and I took a quick trip to Dresden.
Dresden had been on my “visit” list for awhile. Beautiful, lots of history, and only two hours from Berlin? Deal.
Our consciousness of Dresden derives largely from the allied fire bombing that leveled it during WWII. Slaughterhouse Five, anyone? Of course, it also has one of the more striking silhouettes of Germany owing to an illustrious centuries long dominance of the Saxony region. In fact, Dresden’s nickname was the “jewel box”, for its wealth, and opulent baroque and rococo architecture.
Unfortunately, most of the city was destroyed in the allied bombing, and while there are few clear statistics on the death toll (stat manipulation by nazis, commies and allies), approximately 25,000 seems to be the horrific sum.
Maybe the most recognizable symbol of the city is the Frauenkirche. Toppled in the bombing, the Protestant church was painstakingly put back together using as many of its original stones as possible. The original stones are darker in color, and it’s fascinating to walk around and admire this massive puzzle. Horrible and fascinating. There are few exhibits, few plaques, frankly almost no mention of the allied bombing. I guess no matter how terrible an event you suffer, if you’re the aggressor in war, you don’t get to play the victim.
The city has been returned to some of its former glory, and the streets are chock full of breathtaking Baroque buildings, and gorgeous reminders of its influential past.
We made a visit to the Zwinger Palace for a look at Raphael’s Sistine Madonna. Although the Zwinger is filled with works of the likes of Vermeer and Titian, we decided to narrow our focus the large exhibit on the Madonna. It’s one of those arresting paintings which seems to become more alive the more you stare at it.
The legends and facts about the creation, acquisition, and survival of the painting are remarkable. Plus, I had never realized how those two little cherubs, who’ve been pasted onto everything from toilet paper to postcards, ever came into being.
Continuing with the whole odd and unique direction our day had taken, we stopped for a visit to the German Hygiene Museum. Yeah, hygiene.
Ok really it was more of a “learn about the human body and its processes” museum. Most interesting was the extensive sexuality wing, which had all manner of hilarious and embarrassing information. It even had a thermal imaging camera which encouraged you to kiss in front of it to get a picture of the heat you generate.