Wednesday, 17 December 2014


Expecting most things to open at 10:00 I slowly wandered into town via the Hauptstrasse, this time with the Christmas stalls still closed (unlike yesterday), with plans to enter the Residenzschloss with the first crowds.

However along the way, there was the slight distraction of the Katholische Kirche, (the un-named Catholic Church of Dresden).

For some reason, today it and the square out front were filled with military personnel attending some type of service.


I still managed to tiptoe in, take some photos and tiptoe out again (no doubt tormenting some poor German soul by exiting via the entrance as opposed to joining the surge of soldiers passing through the exit).

Next stop was the Residenz where with some assistance I was able to get the ticket I wanted and wander indoors.


Basically the whole of the Residenz was bombed to smitherins by the Allies during World War II and only recently has it been rebuilt to what it used to look like (in some rooms only).
 It is no doubt due to this that unlike Munich, the Residenz here is not a palace style building with the ability to visit rooms as they were once lived in. Truthfully, I don’t even know if these rooms existed and were open to the public before World War II. Instead now, the building is divided into separate museum compartments; one section for armoury, another for Turkish treasures, a third for drawings, and two treasure vaults. Only one of these vaults , the historic Green vault, has been reconstructed in its original style. All the others are very modern museum display rooms behind a historic facade. Unfortunately as a small peephole in the wall showed, all these rooms would have once been beautifully historic as well.

In the Historic Green Vault, a lot of the artwork and paperwork attached to these pieces were saved due to the initiative of the museum staff, but some of the rooms themselves were destroyed, and in many cases these were as amazing as the treasures they contained. Thankfully, being a treasury and therefore relatively secure, it meant that some of the rooms were also relatively fire proof thereby protecting the fittings as well as the content.

In fact it is remarkable just how well documented the original building was and how much time and effort has been taken to return it to this original condition. It may well be that we are only being shown the rooms that they can restore so accurately but there is still a level of detail that is truly impressive. Particularly when you think that the process would have required skills and techniques that are no longer as prevalent than they used to be (or have been improved) and as a result a hell of a lot of funding for the research and implementation of these artisan skills.

Looking at the details of the restoration work as explained (in German) in one room made me desirous of finding a book that discussed in detail not only the damage that was done to the historic centre of the city, but what has been involved in restoring it to its former glory.

Roaming around Dresden I realised that for a European city, I wasn’t completely appreciative of it as I would usually be. What I love about Paris is that every building is old and everywhere you go there is old architecture to look at and they’re all just regular buildings that are aging, some gracefully, some disgracefully. Also, these buildings are usually build rather close together; suitable for two horse cart to fit through, but not designed to cope with the size and volume of modern traffic. In Dresden, there are an unnaturally large number of open spaces and wide streets. In addition, I find that if the building is old or looks old, it ultimately means it is a building of some importance and therefore no doubt one of the buildings you, the tourist, are looking for, be it the Zwinger or Residenz or an old church. Everything else is modern, even if it is trying to follow the general ideas and proportions of the older former buildings. While I as a historian appreciate the resurrection of this important history, it makes it feel as though there is something strangely discombobulating about the town. I know it’s not the original building, but I don’t easily know exactly what it once looked like before World War II, or what it looked like in the immediate aftermath of the bombing. In a way it feels as though part of the history of this city has been veiled, or hidden behind identical scaffolding as the Europeans do.

Maybe I’m just not going to the right places.

Having had my fill of the art works in the Residence – some of which were absolutely stunning might I add, I headed out in the direction of the ‘Woman Church’.

One of the things that intrigues me and annoys me in translations, is that they also translate the name of a place. So Herrenchiemsee became ‘Mr Island’; Frauen Chiemsee, Mrs Island. The other one that got me was the translation of Ludwig II into Louis II. Louis II was a French king; Ludwig Bavarian. Calling the one by the name of the other even if it is the equivalent just gets confusing. Beside it is a Proper Noun therefore it doesn’t need to be translated. So, the ‘Woman Church’ probably more accurately translated into ‘Church of Our Lady’ is the Frauenkirche.

A beautiful building, it however looks far more like a theatre than a church. The reason for this is that the auditorium is circular and there are tiers up the church from which you can view the service. In addition, the ‘dress circle’ appears very much as though it has boxes hidden behind the little glass shutters.

Photos technically weren’t allowed, but no one was paying any attention and there was no one to stop us (like in Sacre Coeur, Paris or the Sistine Chapel, Vatican City).

After that I really should have gone to the City of Dresden Museum, but was already feeling tired and so instead wandered through the surrounding Christmas markets and then walked back to my accommodation. Nothing exciting really. 

Did find a Medieval-style Christmas market though. 

One thing I have discovered from the numerous Christmas markets, attending them with Tegan and Andy and Mum is that they’re far more interesting when you attend them with someone else. I’m not particularly a big eater and so it becomes difficult to sample everything that takes your fancy. With others, you can share a gluhwein and a flaming rum drink, a roasted salmon burger, a flesh-stick (one of which I discovered had chunks of Liver on it), grunkohl mit knacker (green cabbage puree and crunchy sausage), polish cabbage stew, quarkbollchen...

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