We visited Dresden, Germany as a day trip from Prague. The drive took just under two hours, and was very scenic; a portion of the drive was on the Autobahn, which wasn’t really any more exciting than any stretch of interstate highway between Montana and North Dakota, or Kansas and Colorado. We parked blocks from the center of old town, in a parking lot that paved over some great building that had been bombed, but never rebuilt under Communist rule in East Germany. The city center was full of gaping spaces that had been re-purposed as parking lots, or in some cases, simply fenced off pits.
The cathedral was only rebuilt after the reunification of Germany, and was finished in 2006. They were able to salvage about 1/3 of the original material. The new material is sandy colored, while the original blocks are darkened. You can see that a large portion of wall on the far side was intact, but the bulk of the building had collapsed, and the blocks were either too damaged to use, or could not be identified. We saw several other buildings with similar two-tone brickwork from recent reconstruction.
As you can see from the photo of the bombed-out church below, the reconstruction is stunning.
Our driver and guide, Susannah, gave us an overview of the city for the first hour and a half, and then we wandered on our own for a little over three hours. She talked a little about the Fürstenzug tile mural, depicting the members of the House of Wettin, who had ruled Saxony since the 1100’s. The detail was remarkable.
It was a cool, overcast morning, with just a drop or two of rain, which made for some moody architecture. We happily wandered without a specific plan. We had an excellent lunch, and visited the Old Masters Gallery which had some amazing pieces and was a great change of pace from walking the city.
Dresden is an architecturally interesting city, with so much reconstruction that you can't always tell what remained after World War II and what has been rebuilt.
The river was still quite high--from the same flooding we'd seen in Hungary--as you can see from the photo above, coming almost to the bottom of the bridge.
In our three hours of walking, we saw all of the old city; the surrounding area has been rebuilt with pretty boring buildings for the most part, and each time we hit that palpable border, we'd turn back like a wind-up car hitting a wall. The tour wasn't quite what we expected (we didn't know the bulk of the time we'd be on our own), but it really worked out well. We were able to take our own pace, and explore the things that interested us. We were winding down just about the time we'd agreed to meet our driver for the return trip. We had one more day left in Prague before we headed onward to the last leg of our trip with Nicole, in Vienna.