Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.
They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. – Nehemiah 2:17-18
Okay, travel-blog time!
I have finally processed a few photos from our first day in Dresden so I’m going to offer a “lightning tour” to offer the same first-impression Rebekah and I experienced. It was visual overload along with a historical deep-dive, and all we did was to check out the city center by looking at everything from the outside.
But I’d like to begin with this stunning image from 1945. I’ll post it, write a little about it, then highlight our Day-One walking tour. You have probably guessed that Rebekah and I love a good resurrection story and this – this ongoing story – is one for the ages.
In four raids – between 13 and 15 February 1945 – 722 RAF heavy bombers and 527 from the USAAF dropped almost 4,000 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city, creating 1,800-degree heat and tornadoes of fire that literally sucked people in. The bombing destroyed over 1,600 acres (6.5 km2) of the city centre. An estimated 25,000 people were killed, although larger casualty figures have been claimed.
This iconic photo looks from behind what was left of the town hall, the exact point where we got off the #3 tram to begin our walking tour.
Rick Steves is wrong!
With all respect to my favorite travel expert, Rick Steves’ suggestion that Dresden can be done in a day, two if you have the time is a “drive-by mentality” fail of the highest order. Rebekah and I dove in and went deep for more than a week of intensive exploration, and we still have much to see when we gladly return.
The walk from the restored town hall to the rebuilt Frauenkirche took us by still more ongoing reconstruction, and the square around the church has been beautifully restored, with the famous statue of Martin Luther (which survived the bombing) looking out to the city.
Inside, where we worshiped our second Sunday, nails from the similarly destroyed cathedral in Coventry make a cross (photo, left) – a gift from that sister congregation. To the side of the sanctuary rests the original cross from the dome (photo, right), thought to have been mangled and completely incinerated, but discovered in the rubble during reconstruction.
We continued on, walking through the picturesque streets past the catholic church (more on that later), past the royal residence, past the Opera House and into the grounds of the Zwinger palace/museum, a complete quadrangle of elaborate buildings specifically designed by August the Strong to hold much of his priceless porcelain collection!
On through to “The Balcony”
Returning through the maze of streets we made our way back past the catholic church and up to The Balcony of Europe, a riverfront park so named for its beauty and spectacular views.
There we looked out over the river, walked past schools and museums, looked back into the old city, and finally found a restaurant where we sat outside in the fresh evening air before taking one last look at The Balcony and catching the tram back.
A Testimony to Resurrection:
This city is a testimony to what is possible when people believe, look beyond their differences, and work together. After the devastation of WW2 East Germany was brutally occupied by vengeful Soviet forces, and it was forced to adopt a repressive dictatorial regime as well as pay reparations to the USSR.
When the wall fell in 1989 and led to a reunified Germany, all that remained of the Fraunkirche – for example – was a pile of rubble that had been bulldozed into the River Elbe.
Rebekah and I love a good resurrection story.
Please peruse these photographs below. They begin with an avenue near Andrew and Alicia’s apartment, catch the tram across the street, then follow our initial walking tour. My next post will explore more.
Dresden. Much more than a drive-by visit – DEREK