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Wednesday, 02 September 2015 15:43

The World’s Most Famous Angels

Written by  Professor Barry Goldsmith
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Everywhere you go in Italy, you see towels, cups, calendars and fridge magnets with the ubiquitous image of Raphael’s two devilish angels. Someone on my last Rome tour asked me to take them to the museum to see the original angels. My reply? Okay, after we’ re finishing touring Rome, let’s go to Dresden.

Speaking of magnets, Dresden has a big tourist magnet and doesn’t even realize it and promote it. Ironically, those two impish angels that have become a symbol of Italy are in Dresden’s wonderful world-class Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister, (“Old Masters Gallery”), home to many more well known Old Masters. In fact, those famous angeles aren’t even easy to find within their museum - they’re hidden at the very bottom of Raphael’s great Sistine Madonna.
It’s the Dresden Tourist Board - not the Italian Tourist Board - that should be promoting those Raphael angels on every “Welcome to Dresden” ad. Dresden, was known as Germany’s “Baroque City” until a saturated-bombing raid (February 13, 1945) resulted in destruction of 90% of Dresden’s buildings, and the rebuilding is still going on. I call Dresden “Germany’s Museum City.” The exquisite “textbook” Rococo palace, the Zwinger (restored in the 1950s) is home to three museums. The nearby Neo-Renaissance Semper Opera House is one of the world’s finest.
My first visit to Dresden 20 years was an enlightening and sad experience. The Frauenkirche, a gem of a church, which dominates Dresden’s skyline, was still a pile of ruins. Reconstruction, (completed in 2005) incorporated thousands of charred fragments. The Frauenkirche’s surrounding area, “Neustadt,” was a jumble of Communist-era drab. Today that ecclesiastical gem has a befitting new, “old” setting - a totally restored Neustadt with reconstructed 17th and 18th-century facades. Dresden Palace, home of the Kings of Saxony, also a pile of ruins since WWII, reopened in 2013 -- is home to yet another three museums. Dresden’s location couldn’t be better. It’s an easy day trip from Berlin. And, if you believe in sightseeing by crossing countries’ borders it’s also a great day trip from Prague.

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