Dresdner Stadtfest

Trip Start Nov 14, 2011
Trip End Feb 28, 2013

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Flag of Germany  , Saxony,
Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mary's Impressions:
Our travels took us to the city of Dresden as we needed to pick up our rental car somewhere in Germany that was close to Prague (Czech Republic) and Wrocław (Poland) as we would continue our travels via car throughout Poland (thus Dresden seemed to be the perfect location). We took the train from Prague to Dresden arriving with the sun shining and clear blue skies – a great day for touring around the city.

I was curious about Dresden and what we would find here as the majority of the city centre was completely destroyed during WWII when the Allies in February 1945, dropped explosive bombs and incendiaries over the city.  With the city in ruins and under Communist rule after the war, some of the important buildings were rebuilt but the leaders at the time chose to rebuild the city in a "socialist modern style" to break away from the city's past as the royal capital of Saxony and stronghold of the German bourgeoisie.  Other historical buildings were either neglected or leveled (primarily in the 1950s and 1960s by the Soviet and East German authorities) instead of being repaired.  From my past experience visiting Poland when it was under Communist rule and how the towns and cities were developed, my expectations were extremely low in finding a very pretty city (my impression of Communism is that they needed to kill and eliminate anything of beauty – everything needs to be stark, dark and functional!).  We had heard that Dresden did a nice job in restoring its city centre.  I was glad that we could make a stop in Dresden to experience the city for ourselves (albeit briefly).

Our timing into Dresden could not have been planned better as we arrived the weekend of the City Festival (Dresdner Stadtfest).  The city centre was alive with all types of activities – street performers, musicians, dancers, concerts, special events for young and old alike as well as lots of food and beer tents set up everywhere.  It was one huge party!!  Jeff and I headed towards the downtown core and got immediately into the spirit of the festival having lunch (and a German beer of course) at one of the outdoor terraces.

Since the reunification of East and West Germany, the city has undergone a transformation where more historical buildings have been restored and there are a number of large construction projects underway (we passed closed off areas advertising the plans for development).  Walking around it was hard to imagine that the majority of the buildings we saw were once broken and burnt out shells.  The work in restoring these buildings is truly a masterpiece.  In the evening, Jeff and I took our position along the Elbe river with the rest of the Germans in watching the massive fireworks display (the last event scheduled for Dresdner Stadtfest).  As we watched the fireworks, I thought about all the things that this city and its people have had to endure over the years – the war, Communist rule, Reunification – each one presenting its own challenges.  There is a positive energy of hope for the future that can be felt walking around the city and from the people we met.  It’s a shame that we only had a day to enjoy this wonderful city as there are so many things we were not able to see and experience.  More reason to come back someday!
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