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You are here: Home Leisure Arts & Culture Dresden celebrates 800 years
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05/01/2006Dresden celebrates 800 years

Dresden celebrates 800 years 2006 marks the 800th anniversary of Dresden's founding by the margrave Dietrich the Hard-Pressed. We look at how the Elbe city is planning to celebrate.

Dresden is celebrating the 800th anniversary of its foundation

Dresden is in a festive mood already. "Florence on the Elbe," as the city was once known, is preparing to celebrate its 800th anniversary in 2006. It plans to mark the occasion with an array of exhibitions, concerts, open-air events and much more.

Strictly speaking, the former residence of Saxon dukes, electoral princes and later kings will not be celebrating its 800-year history as a city, but rather the first written record of it as a place. Originally a Slavic fishing village, Dresden still had no city charter when its name appeared in a legal document on March 31, 1206.

It was not until 10 years later that the city's founder, Dietrich the Hard-Pressed, Margrave of Meissen, referred to "our city Dresden."

Keeping it politically correct in 1956

Dresden's last big birthday bash was in 1956, when it marked its 750th anniversary. The city's then Communist leaders sought to keep things "politically correct" by contrasting bygone Baroque luxury in the historical pageant with "the oppressed masses." The people hired to play the oppressed masses failed to show up, however.

Dresden's Frauenkirche was re-consecrated in 2005 to much fanfare

The focus will be different this time around. "The anniversary is a community affair, and it was important to us to include the people connected with the city in the planning," said Werner Barlmeyer, director of the Dresden City Museum and chief organizer of the 2006 festivities. Well over 400 events are on the programme.

Reconstructing Dresden's heritage

Dresden's splendid Church of Our Lady was re-consecrated in October 2005. Its reopening, a symbol of Dresden's resurrection from destruction by Allied bombers in February 1945, had been planned for 2006. But the Baroque Protestant church, known in German as the Frauenkirche, was rebuilt largely with private donations sooner than expected.

Dietrich the Hard-Pressed, looking surprisingly relaxed

The Frauenkirche is the subject of a major special exhibition in the newly renovated Dresden City Museum titled "Dresden's Frauenkirche. Its Rise, Works and Reconstruction."

Another exhibition devoted to the church will run until May 1 in the Lipsius Art Academy on Bruehl's Terrace, overlooking the Elbe River. Called "The View of Dresden. The Frauenkirche and the Development of Dresden's Skyline," it traces artists' and chroniclers' views of the city over the centuries, and how they shaped the way the world came to see the city.

A unique atmosphere

Both the locals and visitors alike agree that Dresden, capital of the eastern German state of Saxony, has a unique atmosphere. That atmosphere will be the theme of an exhibition titled "Dresden's Aura. A Cultural-Historical Review," to open on April 8 in Dresden's German Hygiene Museum.

The multifaceted exhibition will touch on Raphael's "The Sistine Madonna," one of the most beautiful paintings in Dresden's Old Masters Picture Gallery, as well as Dresden's famous Christmas fruitcakes.

Glory days

Dresden was a festive city in its glory days, which is reflected today in the festivals held in its various districts. The open-air festival season from May to September continues this lively tradition.

On August 27, some 3,600 people and 200 horses are expected to take part in Dresden's 800th-anniversary procession. Saxony's royal family will come to life again with the re-enactment of the "Procession of Princes" fresco.

And in early September, before the festivities are over, the Historic Green Vault, Europe's most precious treasure chamber, is scheduled to be reopened in Dresden's Royal Palace.

5 January 2006

Copyright DPA with Expatica 2006

Subject: Dresden, 800th anniversary, Frauenkirche, German heritage

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