Dresden was really a gem

February 3, 2012 § 4 Comments

Looking at Dresden through a passage. Dec 19, 2011.

Looking at the Google map, to go to Berlin from Prague by train, I saw the train will pass through a city called Dresden. This is the city that was introduced to me from my high school history class, then it was movies and documentaries. It was devastatingly destroyed in 1945, however, the people did not abandoned their beloved city. Throughout the years, lots of hard work, effort and money went into reconstruction to bring back its former glory. So, I decided to make a short stay over this rebuilt city, and see what it looks like after 66 years.

As the train move onto the land of Germany, I could see the landscape changed outside the window: I noticed more hills and more little houses scattering sparsely by the river, very pretty and very tranquil. This train ride was just about 2 hours, and I arrived in this city without knowing what to expect. Will there be still traces left from the bombing? Would it be a sad town over-shadowed by the war? After checking into my accommodation and a quick lunch, I headed over to the Green Vault [Grunes Gewolbe]. I thought it would be just a few reconstructed small rooms with a bit of royal treasures……

Last frame at the courtyard before entering the Green Vault. Dresden. Dec 21, 2011.

When I bought my combi ticket, the lady asked me if I was going to see the Historic Green Vault now. I answered yes. Then I saw my ticket was printed with a time, which was about 5 minutes before I got the ticket. I wasn’t sure what was that about, but I trusted the staff wouldn’t give me an invalid ticket… I must say German weren’t really good with displaying clear written instruction. They seem to expect every visitor would know what to do as no explanation was on the ticket about the time. No details about the audio guide at the counters (and the staff don’t speak English well). Anyway, when I finally found the entrance to the exhibition. The guard told me “your time is still good”, and she let me in.

Then I was in a hall of beautiful stuff. Lots of things were made out of ivory, mother of pearl, silver, coral, rock crystal…… decorated by all kinds of precious stones and intricate sculptures. They also found out how a natural pearl could fit perfectly to become a body part of a sculpture.  Every piece was super labour intensive It took quite some time for me to go through everything in this room. Sometimes I wonder was it really necessary to make a drinking cup with expensive material like rock crystal? Then a guard made an announcement in German. Suddenly everyone lined up in front of a screen door. Of course I followed. When it came to my turn, the guard look at my ticket’s time and asked “Deutch?” I shook my head. Then she just smiled and use her keycard, instead of my ticket’s barcode, to open the screen door. I can tell from her smile, she must be thinking: “sigh…. another clueless visitor.”.

While waiting for the second screen door to open, I thought: “oh my… tightest security I’ve seen in a museum.” 5 second later, I understood why. Oh-my-lord-sweet-mother-of-Jesus. It was rooms after rooms of the most sumptuous rooms I’ve ever seen. There were a lot more cups and goblets made out of ivory. I never seen ivory being carved like that, in different shapes and sizes. It must be a difficult task to carve ivory as the raw material is curved naturally. It was just amazing to see a wall full of things carved from ivory.

In the following rooms, they were of a different theme. One room has lots of silver and ruby red glass (An alchemist found out the perfect amount of gold to add into the glass mixture to get that brilliant deep red colour), some has a lot of amber, some has a lot of rock crystal and occasionally I see some adorned by coral. But this wasn’t it.We then walked into a room full of gemstones in crazy large scale: blocks and blocks of diamonds and gem stones. All were of top quality, some crystal were ridiculously clear that you can use it as a magnifying glass. I couldn’t stop starring at every one of them. The stones were so clear, and the shine were the brightest I’ve seen. It must be the cut. It was the first time I dropped my jaws while looking at jewelry exhibition. By this time, the question in my head was: “how the hell did the Saxon kings got THIS rich?” Seriously, I’ve only heard Dresden got bombed, but no one ever told me they possessed such a crazy collection of treasures.

Well, with such a tight security, photography of course was not permitted inside any room. So I apologize for posting pictures from the official website. But seriously, even if you’re not interested into jewelry, do yourself a favor and see the Historic Green Vault and make sure you take a glimpse of the 41 carats Dresden Green Diamond. I don’t think anyone would regret seeing such a manmade wonder.

Note: You should show up at the screen door within the time frame listed on your ticket. The tour of the Historic Green Vault begins and ends in the same hall. So you can always look at those beautiful treasures after the tour.

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§ 4 Responses to Dresden was really a gem

  • Deano says:

    Nice post. Dresden has an amazing history – royal times, World War 2, East German communist period etc. I was there in 2005 and was lucky enough to get a special tour of the Dresden Frauenkirche just before it reopened to the public after total restoration (I was in the right place at the right time).

    • Katharine says:

      you were so lucky! When I walked into the Frauenkirche, all I could think of was “this is what a church supposed to look like : clean white wall!” 😉

      It was interesting that you mentioned about the communist period. Since when I walked around the old town, there was no trace of that part of the history. I’m sure, when they rebuilt Dresden old toen, they decided to leave it out.

  • Elsie Peng says:

    I was waiting for a class today while reading your post. It really made me laugh out loud especially the part about German people. Really nice. your post reminds me the time I was in England visiting the Windsor Castle. But unfortunately, I am not allowed to take any photos inside the room. These rooms were just as pretty as the German’s.

    • Katharine says:

      Oh the part where no written instruction? It only get worse from here 😉 stay tuned. hahaha. Ah Windsor Castle was amazing. It was different to visit a castle that’s still in use by the royalties, and seeing the guards in their official uniform? a.w.e.s.o.m.e.

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