Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Day 4 - Berlin - Dresden - Prague

This morning we loaded our suitcases onto the bus and began our two hour drive to the town of Dresden. This would be the first time we stopped in Dresden, as in prior years we had traveled by train from Berlin to Prague. As we entered the city, Olaf told us that Dresden, which means “the people living next to the forest”, was a traditional medieval city, first mentioned in 1206, and was the capital of the principality of Saxonia, now the state of Saxony. Dresden has a population of about 500,000 and is famous for its Christmas market, the historic young men’s choir, Cross Choir, dating back to 1300, and is the city where the first European porcelain was manufactured. We learned that in February 1945, shortly before the end of the war, the Allies bombed Dresden reducing almost everything in the city to rubble, partly in retaliation for the German bombing of Coventry, but also, as Mr. Barmore would later tell us, to break the German spirit, inasmuch as the city was so symbolic to the Germans. After the war, the city of Dresden was rebuilt as closely as possible to what had existed before the bombing, including the historic buildings.

We had learned from Olaf that Germany now has 16 states, but Mr. Barmore said that in order to form the German nation, in the 19th century, it necessitated the unification of more than 400 ‘units’, such as Saxony (Dresden), Prussia (Berlin), and Bavaria (Munich). One of the main forces for unification of these units: there was one culture. As he said, culture cemented people before politics. Saxony became so important in the 17th and 18th centuries because it epitomized the Age of Baroque. The Baroque style of architecture was quite ‘busy’ he said and the Palace of Versailles in France became the standard against which all other buildings of this period were measured.

We walked through the courtyard of the magnificent Zwinger palace into a large square where we could view the Catholic Church of the Cross and the National Opera House. In this new nationalism of the 18th century, we were told, museums, theatre and opera, became institutions that expressed culture so that every country needed to have a national symphony or a national museum - by which the cultural identity could be expressed.

Our next stop was the New Green Vault, which houses one of the richest treasure chambers in the world: more than 1,000 examples of Baroque jewelry art. Mr. Barmore had told us that the Baroque period manifested itself in competition - demonstrations of wealth by various rulers – and that was definitely apparent in this exhibit, culminated by the exhibit of the precious green diamond, purchased by August III in 1742.

We ate lunch in a charming medieval-style restaurant, where we were joined by our Prague guide, Kamila who would be talking over for Olaf as we continued our journey. We walked around the town of Dresden for a short while, learning about the importance of processions during the period as we viewed the Furstenzug, a large mural of a mounted procession of the rulers of Saxony, and enjoying the beautiful market squares and surrounding buildings. We made a brief stop at the train station where we said goodbye to Olaf, our Berlin/Dresden guide and to Jeff, our security detail, and then headed south to Prague, following the course of the Elbe River, admiring the beautify scenery of the Czech Republic.

Arriving in Prague, we checked into our hotel, located in the center of the city, and then headed off to dinner at the Municipal House


  1. Wow! Thank you for all this amazing history. Each day I can't wait read about and see pictures of all you are learning. Truly you all are having an opportunity of a lifetime.

  2. Looks like everyone is having the usual incredible experience on this trip. Eyes open, ears tuned to everything and you will all come back wiser people!

  3. Glad all is well Can't wait to learn more

  4. Dresden looks like a beautiful town. So much art and culture. It must have been hard to say goodbye to Olaf and Jeff. Thank them both for all they did for our kids.

  5. It is the experiences that enrich our understanding. It is the people that deepen our wisdom. And it is our willingness to reach out that moves the world. All of you on this journey are living what education should be--an education that impacts humanity beyond all existing borders and boundaries. I am encouraged by the students’ reflections and look forward to more. I am proud of the educators and their commitment to this world-class program. I miss the guides, my colleagues, and Mr. Barmore. Sending all of you my thoughts.

    1. Wow! This looks like an amazing day filled with old facts and plenty of sightseeing! I found it amazing that the people of Dresden were able to build their city up again and build it the same way it would have looked before it was bombed. That shows pride for the town and they were definitely not willing to give up! My older sister studied abroad in Berlin, Germany three years ago and absolutely love it. She would move there in a heartbeat, but while she was there she was able to go to the Christmas Market in Dresden. She said it was spectacular, and she even brought us home some ornaments and special items just from Dresden. This also said that the town was full of culture and that is what they thrived on, reading the post from above. It find it incredible that all three units were able to agree on one thing and that was culture.