In 2008 Dresden looks even younger, is more luxurious and is in a truly festive mood
Every city has a personality of its own. The diva among German cities has to be Dresden - timelessly beautiful, a gesamtkunstwerk (‘synthesis of arts') with a changeful but on the whole glorious history; a city whose biography has been fitful but whose present has won it respect and whose future holds great promise. And of course it is a city that offers a wealth of material for passionate debate, calm reflection and declarations of love.
It is therefore no wonder that the divas of the contemporary music world have selected Dresden as the location for a musical event that is unique in Germany. On Saturday 2nd August 2008, under the title "Diva Maxima", Montserrat Caballé, Angelika Milster and Milva will be performing on the Theaterplatz in Dresden, with the Semper Opera House, the Palace and the Catholic Cathedral providing a magnificent backdrop.
This is just one of many exciting events on offer for the citizens of Dresden and their guests. Exactly a week later, on 9th August, Pillnitz, the pleasure palace beside the River Elbe which is famous for the legendary festivals held there by the erstwhile ruler of Saxony, Augustus the Strong, will be transformed into a stage for a midsummer night's dream of light, water, costumes and music in what will be called the "Pillnitzer Schlossnacht". And you wouldn't be wrong to compare the recreated magnificence of the Dresden court in the Baroque era with that of the imperial court of China. For that is precisely what the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections) will be doing in autumn 2008 in collaboration with the Museum of the Forbidden City in Beijing, when there will be a major art exhibition - the most important of four exhibitions on the subject of "China and Dresden".
On the weekend 15th - 17th August the whole of Dresden's city centre will be turned into a festival arena - from the Baroque Neustadt district, across the banks of the Elbe and throughout the monumental Altstadt. The Dresdner Stadtfest (City Festival) will offer music, entertainment, art, sport, fun and relaxation as well as culinary specialities in all the numerous streets and squares as well as on stages, enabling visitors to stroll among them and take in the festive atmosphere.
But the festival calendar will begin right at the start of the new year, when there will be a grand celebration on Theaterplatz and a firework display on the banks of the Elbe. Later in the year there will be the Neustadtfest, the Steamship Parade, the Dixieland Festival, the Music Festival and numerous smaller district and music festivals, extending right up to the Striezelmarkt, the oldest Christmas market in Germany that has taken place annually without interruption ever since its inception.
With these events, Dresden also fits well into the two themes chosen as this year's focal points by the Deutsche Zentrale für Tourismus. The motto of this tourist organisation for 2008 is "Kunst und Kultur: Schlösser und Parks in Deutschland" (Art and Culture: Palaces and Parks in Germany), along with the supplementary themes "Stadtfeste in Deutschland" (City Festivals in Germany) and "Kulinarisches Deutschland" (Culinary Germany).
Those who take pleasure in architecture also have plenty to look forward to in 2008: following the completion of the Frauenkirche in 2005, the historic Neumarkt around the church is continuing to take shape. The complex known as the "jewel beside the Frauenkirche", which consists of reconstructed buildings with baroque and modern façades, including a restaurant in which a historic tram has been integrated as a special feature, completes the eastern side of the square. To the north, the house that formerly belonged to Heinrich Schütz, who held the position of court composer in Dresden during the baroque era, is being rebuilt.
The Royal Palace, or Residenzschloss, which now houses two exhibitions of the unique treasury called the "Grünes Gewölbe" (Green Vault), one in recreated historic rooms and the other in a modern environment with state-of-the-art display cabinets, is being further developed as a museum centre of top international rank. The next development will be the fitting of a modern roof structure spanning the Small Courtyard. It was designed by the Dresden star architect Peter Kulka. In 2009 the "Türkische Kammer" (Turkish Chamber) is to be the next part of the museum to be opened in the Palace.
The year 2009 will also see the reopening of the Albertinum. The firm of architects under Volker Staab is building a new central storeroom complex above the inner courtyard of the historic museum building which was originally the municipal arsenal. According to Staab, this steel construction, which weighs 2700 tonnes, is a "structural Noah's Ark", which will simultaneously transform the former courtyard into a new modern space. At the same time, the famous architect Daniel Libeskind is conducting major alterations at the Militärhistorisches Museum (Museum of Military History) of the Bundeswehr. The opening of the spectacular link between the old classical-style building and a new building which cuts through it like an arrow is planned for 2010. The new permanent and short-term exhibitions also promise exciting new discoveries.
Like all divas, Dresden loves luxury. The only sales showroom of the luxury watch manufacturer Lange und Söhne, based in Glashütte, has just opened in the QF quarter near the Frauenkirche. The other Glashütte watch and clock makers have appointed retailers in Dresden.
Over the next three years Dresden will be celebrating the 300th
anniversary of the development of European porcelain. In 1708
the first experimental firings were conducted by Friedrich Böttger and
Walter Ehrenfried Tschirnhaus below what is today the Brühl Terrace. In
1709 Augustus the Strong announced the new discovery. And in 1710 he
established the first European porcelain manufactory in Meissen.
The luxury of the white gold can be enjoyed throughout the year in the
Dresden Porzellansammlung, the world's largest porcelain museum, as well as
in the specialist shops that sell Meissen Porcelain or Dresden
Porcelain from the
135-year old Dresden manufactory. During these jubilee years, celebrity chefs from Dresden will also be holding special culinary evenings in which food will be presented on services made of this luxury china.
Those who would like to take art home with them from Dresden, a city so famous for its art, will find an ample selection of antique shops and galleries, which specialise particularly in contemporary art from Dresden. Some of them, such as the Lehmann and Baer galleries have made a name for themselves internationally.
It is no wonder that Dresden is becoming ever more popular with visitors from around the world, and not just among art and music lovers. In 2006 Dresden recorded almost 3.5 million overnight stays. These include more and more congress attendees who appreciate Dresden as a prime location for science, research and production in such spheres as micro- and nanotechnology.
In 2008 Dresden will also host the Chess Olympiad which will attract the world champions of this mentally challenging sport.
Is Dresden a city that makes people happy? This question will be the subject of an exhibition at the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum in spring 2008, thus helping visitors to experience the splendour of the diva that is Dresden - a diva who, with each passing year, gains both in beauty and in interest and thus looks ever younger.
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