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Dresden is celebrating the 800th anniversary of its foundation
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
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
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.
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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