Up early this morning . . . to finish packing for Berlin. After a quick protein shake, first on our day’s itinerary is to take Zelda and Tejomaya to a hair salon appointment for deep conditioning and consultation. This is a salon, across from the Frauenkirche, that Juli goes to and worked wonders on her hair. So, it stands to reason that mom and sis need to follow suit . . . or do I mean "follow hair?" . . . yea, it's early!
Across from Theaterplatz is the Katholiche Hofkirche with its distinctive green-copper, onion domed steeple. Like the Royal Palace, this church was completely reconstructed after the WWII firebombing of Dresden by Britain and America.
Though Dresden was primarily a stronghold of Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation, when Augustus the Strong died, his son wanted to continue as king of Poland, like his father. The pope would only allow it if Augustus Junior built a Catholic church in Dresden, which he did.
By far, the most impactful part of the church for me was the Memorial Chapel. Though originally dedicated to the Bohemian Saint John Nepomuk, since the Hofkirche was restored in 1976, it serves as a memory of the victims of the fire bombings on Dresden that killed 35,000 people, on February 13, 1945, and all victims of violence.
This amazing memorial was created by Dresden sculptor Friedrich Press (1904-1990 out of white Meissen porcelain.
A free-standing block altar depicts five heads at the base, from which fire flames arise — reminiscent of the burning city of Dresden. On the walls of the Memorial Chapel are the names of priests who were persecuted and incarcerated between 1933 and 1945.
Back at the hair salon Zelda and Tejomaya are gorgeous, and before we leave set-up appointments after our return from Prague for cuts and color . . . and now we ready to take on Berlin!
Full disclosure . . . I love European train stations. There is something so majestic about the curved ironwork of the ceiling structures and the feeling that adventure is but a moment away.
Our trip to Berlin finds us in a compartment with two others. Space is tight, but comfortable for the two-hour trip. Not sitting by a window, I can't bore you with photographs of the passing countryside . . . too bad . . .
The Berlin Hauptbahnhof is ginormous — Europe’s largest — with five-floors with escalators and elevators connecting them. It is light, airy and bustling as both long-distance and city S-Bahn trains meet here. Once on the street, it is easy to hire a taxi to take us to our home for the three nights — Regent Hotel — in what was the former East Berlin and now considered Berlin-Mitte.
The monument consists of 2,711 concrete stelae arranged in a grid pattern of 54 rows (north-south) and 87 (east-west) at right angles set slightly askew. Walking through these long, strait, narrow alleys of varying heights of concrete stelae set on undulating ground is an extremely moving experience of canyon-like claustrophobia, solitutde, introspection, timelessness, hope. and despair (seemingly at night when there is no blue sky or sunlight above. The fabrication and installation began in April 2003, took 20 months to complete, and was opened to the public in 2005. According to the Eisenman’s project text: “The stelae are designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason.” No matter what experiences one brings with them to this memorial, it is powerful and offers plenty of room to create ones’ own meaning!