I knew I would like it when we pulled up to the light and next to us stood a burned out old brick warehouse with smashed windows. My favorite cities always combine the same elements - a great former glory coated with dirt and achy human sadness and yet signs that there is hope and a bright future to come. To me, the best cities force you to think of the past, to imagine yourself in it and who you would be had you been born at that time, in that place. Yet your mind also can't help but flit about, too restless to focus on the present, instead seeking the satisfaction of building up a piece of it - the house that looks too far gone or an old garden overrun with weeds perhaps.

Dresden has all of that. Old and new and newer still. M. and I inevitably talked about WWII and the DDR and who thought what and why did people do what they did. A city like Dresden leaves you with a lot of whys.

M. was trying to understand why I like these moody kind of cities. For him affluence and a vibrant appearance are the best characteristics of a city. Maybe it is my childhood in Philadelphia, a grungy city mixed with the overactive imagination of a child's mind. I constantly renovated the streets and the houses and the gardens of that dilapidated city. Maybe it is even more subliminal, something passed down from my Eastern European ancestors, something neither genetic or envronmental but there nonetheless that makes me connect with these Eastern cities. I think, though, that more than anything, I like how there is a balance in a city at a turning point; it seems to mirror the human mind and spirit, where all possibilities lay ahead but only time will tell if happier or darker times are ahead.

Posted from Basel


aimee said...

the architecture is stunning.

vailian said...

I was so sorry to have missed the Meetup (he whines)! Dresden is one of my favorite places in Germany.
I happened to be there the week the Wall went down, now THAT was an experience! (I did a concert there) When I arrived, the people were sullen and suspicious and depressed, but as I left they were transformed and giddy with joy and excitement.
But I am a heretic about one thing: the Frauenkirche. I knew it as a monstrous pile of stone, and somehow I found the ruins of the church more impressive and moving than the rebuilt version (it is for my taste a depressing example of the Baroque style).
(I also am against rebuilding the Schloss in Berlin, and was furious that they tore down the Palast der Republik-- it may have been a symbol of the GDR but the people I know, who despised the regime, still loved going there, it was a real People's Palace and had a wonderfully versatile auditorium. Building a replica of a 19th century castle on that site seems to me to be very shortsighted. And as I predicted long before the Palast was torn down, there is now a huge nostalgia for it, as evidenced by the museums and souvenir shops that have sprung up.)

kat said...

Beautiful pictures! Brussels is another city like this, under all the dirt, you can see how pretty it could be (well at least the last time I was there it was very much like that).

O. said...

ha ha ha... that's such a cute car :-))))

Expat Traveler said...

I love the architecture as well.

Seeing that I work for a lighting company, one of the subtle differences from Europe to North America is that the lighting in each town generally fits into the period of time of the city.

For instance, that last photo has a lovely street lamp (luminaire) that fits in the time. Other lights are not cluttered about either.. To me that is just true beauty too..

I love the old buildings. They say so much, and probably is why I miss Europe so much..


Looks like it was so much fun.

J said...

I was quite disappointed that I only saw two Trabbis the entire four days I was in the former East Germany.