Really playing catch-up here. At the start of December, I went to Dresden to see the Christmas markets. The markets are huge Christmassy. You can see a gorgeous pic and read about them here.
Luckily for me (and a colleague who came with me), Saturday December 5 was Stollen Festival Day! Here’s a video about the festival, with lots of footage of the markets. It’s in German, but everyone speaks Stollen.
I bought a big slab of Stollen. We ate a little, and I gave the rest away. It was a ton of fun:)
A highlight at the Christmas markets were the chimneysweeps. THEY ARE REAL. IT’S A THING.
Nearby the main markets were the medieval markets. I did feel a wee bit like a time traveler, which is the most wonderful feeling:)
There was one unusual aspect of the medieval markets. It was cold, and there was a wooden hot tub set up with a half dozen or so people in it, laughing. A lot. From a distance, I wondered if they had anything on, since I couldn’t see any straps. Then one guy stood up, and all was revealed. Those wacky Dresdeners.
At the other end of the spectrum was the Frauenkirche: Church of Our Lady. It’s a stunning building with an equally stunning history. It was bombed near the end of WW II, and lay in rubble for 45 years. Just after the ‘peaceful revolution’ which led to the reunification of Germany in 1990, a group of concerned citizens campaigned for the church’s restoration. Here’s the first paragraph of their ‘Appeal from Dresden‘:
“On February 13th 1945 – just a few weeks prior to the end of the war that had already been decided – air attacks on Dresden reduced the Frauenkirche to rubble. For decades, these ruins were an indictment and a reminder for all peace-loving people. In the difficult times of political suppression and the build-up of arms throughout the world, young people never stopped lighting candles and placing them amid the ruins. This form of non-violent protest was intended to give a sign of hope that peaceful times, justice and normal life would return. And yet, the ongoing deterioration of the ruins that remained couldn’t be stopped. Their protection and conservation would require significant structural and financial efforts…”
This Deutsche Welle video shows the history of the church and its restoration. They used many of the original bricks in the reconstruction.
Dresden was lovely. It made me a bit sad, coming from Prague, that so much of the city was destroyed. It’s really only the oldest, central part of historic Dresden that has been restored. I did a fair bit of walking outside the centre, and the housing was rather bleak and boxy—all the same, I thought. The older areas are absolutely beautiful though.