Saturday, January 2, 2010

Saxony

A first view of Dresden's older quarter from afar
A mosaic remainder of socialist timesThe guard of the passage...an example of the ornate decorations on seemingly EVERY building in old town! ...He reminds me of the Muppets.

View from the Bridge...the domed building in the center is an art institute nicknamed, "The Lemon Squeezer"
One of my favorite sites in Dresden...a street with a mosaic depicting all the kings of Saxony, along with their sometimes humorous and curious nicknames (ie-"the one who was bitten")
Probably the most famous church in Dresden. It was destroyed during the war and rebuilt entirely with donations. The darker stones are the original ones which could be recovered.
View from the top of the church.
Old Town's "skyline" from across the river. This river is where the first steamboat's actually sailed...the one's from which the famous Mississippi steamboats of Mark Twain's day were designed.
Courtyard of the old palace, now a museum
The Milchmeyers, my lovely hosts!
A slightly newer block of buildings

It's official...I may be a bad traveler or traveling may just be risky, but either way I don't trust the German train system. Unlike their people, they have a reputation for being late, as my connection to Prague was. Still, I had a great time in Saxony, getting a glimpse of both more rural Hoyerswerda with my second-year Georg and of the more cosmopolitan Dresden with Laura and her family.

Of course, Dresden is famous both a city which was severely bombed during the Second World War but also as the sight of many demonstrations against a divided Germany in the 1980s, during which many protestors saught sanctuary in various churches. Laura's father went to university in Dresden, so it was interesting to hear how much has changed in the past few years! What I found most interesting there was the Church of the Holy Cross, which I unfortunately didn't get any decent pictures of since we visited in the dark. It was damaged during the war, and it's still very plain on the inside partly due to lack of funds and partly due to their belief that a church doesn't have to be ornately decorated to be effective...with which I agree. Instead, they've come up with some creative uses for the space, my favorite of which is a room where children from the congregation have made replicas of famous medeival religious paintings and their interpretations. (For example, a copy of a Madonna scene with the caption, "Joseph went shopping, so Mary and the baby Jesus are waiting for him on a gold chair.") The church also features a Cross of Nails, a tradition started after WWII when English churches took metal from the ruins of churches destroyed by German bombs, fashioned them into crosses, and sent them to German congregations as a sign of reconciliation and unity. Today, German and English churches have spread these crosses to countries around the world to foster the same sense of unity, and last year, one was even brought to the evangelical church in Mostar! I remember this occasion not only because there were Bosniak, Croat, Serb, and Roma ethnicities joined together for worship, but also because the Franciscian brotherhood and leaders of several other denominations in the city sent their representatives or blessings. It was so refreshing to see faith used as a force of unity rather than division, and to see the origins of these small but revolutionary actions in Dresden.

After a day of walking through the city and checking out some traditional German craft and sampling the ever-present Gl├╝hwein (mulled wine), I went headed to Hoyerswerda to visit my second-year Georg and his mother. Hoyerswerda is about twice the size of Centralia population-wise, but it has many similarities in its demographics and in that mining used to be a major industry. Despite the snow, we made it to a nearby convent where I saw a prayer service and had a nice view of Saxony's winter countryside. The next day at the supermarket in Hoyerswerda, Georg and I found a surprising reminder of our Balkans home. Apparently Mostar's not the only place increasing its culinary imports!

No comments: