Dresden Elbe Valley (2004)

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The 18th and 19th century cultural landscape of Dresden Elbe Valley extends some 18-km along the river from Übigau Palace and Ostragehege fields in the northwest to the Pillnitz Palace and the Elbe River Island in the southeast. 

Germany 2000. Blue Wonder Steel Bridge in Dresden

It features low meadows, and is crowned by the Pillnitz Palace and the centre of Dresden with its numerous monuments and parks from the 16th to the 20th centuries. 

The landscape also features 19th and 20th century suburban villas and gardens and valuable natural features. 

Some terraced slopes along the river are still used for viticulture and some old villages have retained their historic structure and elements from the industrial revolution: notably the 147-m Blue Wonder steel bridge (1891-1893), the single-rail suspension cable railway (1898-1901), and the funicular (1894-1895). The passenger steamships (the oldest from 1879) and shipyard (ca 1900) are still in use.

  • Germany 2000. Blue Wonder Steel Bridge in Dresden. 
The Dresden Elbe Valley has been the crossroads in Europe, in culture, science and technology. Its art collections, architecture, gardens, and landscape features have been an important reference for Central European developments in the 18th and 19th centuries. 

The Dresden Elbe Valley contains exceptional testimonies of court architecture and festivities, as well as renowned examples of middle-class architecture and industrial heritage representing European urban development into the modern industrial era. 

  • Germany 2001. 250th anniversary of the Catholic Court Church in Dresden. Rococo Architecture. 

Germany 2001. 250th anniversary of the Catholic Court Church in Dresden.

Germany 1994. Suburban landscape in Dresden. Painting by Erich Heckel

The Dresden Elbe Valley is an outstanding cultural landscape, an ensemble that integrates the celebrated baroque setting and suburban garden city into an artistic whole within the river valley.

The Dresden Elbe Valley is an outstanding example of land use, representing an exceptional development of a major Central-European city. The value of this cultural landscape has long been recognized, but it is now under new pressures for change.

  • Germany 1994. Suburban landscape in Dresden. Painting by Erich Heckel. 

One of Europe's foremost cultural centers before World War II, Dresden's major landmark is the carefully restored 18th-century Zwinger Palace. The Zwinger houses several noted museums, the most famous of which is the Semper Gallery. The highlight of its collection of more than 2000 paintings is the Sistine Madonna, executed c. 1513 by Raphael, a magnificent image of the Virgin and Child appearing among radiant clouds, above two of the most engaging putti (cherubs) in Renaissance art. Meissen porcelain, pewter items, scientific instruments, coins, and the crown jewels of Saxony are among other exhibits in the Zwinger Museums. 

Germany 2003. The Zwinger Palace and the Semper Gallery (Staatliche Gemälde Galerie) in Dresden
  • Germany 2003. The Zwinger Palace and the Semper Gallery in Dresden, facing the Elbe River. 

  • Italy 1983. Sistine Madonna in the Semper Gallery, Dresden. 

Italy 1983. Sistine Madonna by Raphael in the Semper Gallery, Dresden.

First mentioned in the early 13th century, Dresden gained prominence from 1485 to 1918 as the capital of the powerful dukes (later electors and kings) of Saxony. The city emerged as a leading cultural center in the 17th century, most notably during the reign (1694-1733) of Frederick Augustus I, elector of Saxony (also during the reign, 1697-1733, of King Augustus II of Poland). During this period the alchemist John Friedrich Böttger invented the Meissen porcelain technique, making possible European production of the porcelain previously imported from Asia. 

German Federal Republic 1966. View of Dresden. German Democratic Republic 1968. Moritzburg Castle, Dresden. Germany 2000. Brühlsche Terrasse, Dresden. Germany 2000. Opera House in Dresden.

The city was partly rebuilt after suffering heavy damage during the Seven Years' War (1756-1763) and subsequently became known as the Florence on the Elbe because of its magnificent baroque and rococo architecture and its fine museums. Napoleon achieved his last major military success here in 1813. 

An artist whose name is invariably connected with Dresden, is the Italian Baroque painter Bernardo Bellotto (1720-1780), also known as "The Second Canaletto". 

Bellotto's use of the name Canaletto (which is how he is still generally known in Central Eastern Europe) was no doubt partly intended to open the doors of patrons who knew of his uncle's renown.  Because he signed many of his works done abroad with the signature “de Canaletto,” many of his paintings were mistakenly attributed to his famous uncle. Read more about his uncle, Canaletto, here

Baroque Art. Bernardo Bellotto. Post card showing a panoramic view of Dresden, Germany.

Although his work was quite similar to that of his uncle Canaletto, it differed in his use of massed clouds, darker tones, and rich foliage.  An example of this is visible on this postcard from Dresden, picturing the right bank of the River Elbe, that flows through the city. The circular "stains" on the right side of the card come from the postmark on the backside.  

His meticulous images of Central European cities were extensively used in the reconstruction of historic buildings, most notably in war-damaged Dresden and Warsaw.  Bellotto died in Warsaw in 1780. 
  • Germany 2005. Inauguration of the Dresden Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), partly restored on the basis of Bellotto's paintings. 

Germany 2005. Dresden Frauenkirche.

Dresden developed into an important industrial center in the late 19th century. On the night of February 13, 1945, hundreds of Allied bombers released a firestorm of bombs on Dresden, killing 135,000 people and demolishing 80 percent of the city. Much of the city was meticulously restored after the war. 

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in Germany (on this site). Inactive links are not described on stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section Germany for further information about such sites. 

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Revised 03 aug 2006  
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