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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Dresden and Leipzig

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas AUGUST. 25, 2020

My last trip abroad seems like years ago now. It was the 8th of February. Chaos quickly ensued when we got back three days later and as a consequence I never got around to doing anything with these photos until the last week. So here is a selection of mainly architectural shots taken on the trip.

The trip was based around a concert at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, but we made a bit more of a trip out of it by staying in Dresden too. We had to fly to Dresden and take a train to Leipzig. Rumours of the virus spreading in Asia were just emerging at this time and we were quite nervous once we got to the airport. We had to change flights in Frankfurt which is a huge airport and we had to walk what seemed like miles between lounges, already a large number of people were wearing face marks which alarmed us even more. We were relieved to get back home, and although there was no mention of quarantines or anything like that back in February, we actually self-isolated anyway for two weeks just in case.

As a consequence of this trip, we cancelled a trip two weeks later to London for another concert even though we lost a lot of money as a result. Only another two weeks later London ended up being one of the biggest virus outbreaks in Europe so I think we made the right decision. Lockdown did not happen for over a month after our German trip.

These photos, take in the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, the VW factory tour in Dresden and a suspended funicular, the Schwebebahn Dresden.

Dresden railway station. A work in progress.

Gewandhaus is a concert hall in Leipzig, Germany, the home of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Today's hall is the third to bear this name; like the second, it is noted for its fine acoustics. The third Gewandhaus on Augustusplatz opened on 8 October 1981, two hundred years after the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra moved into the original hall.

The third Gewandhaus was the only concert hall to be built in the GDR (former communist East Germany). Gewandhauskapellmeister. Kurt Masur initiated the campaign for its erection and collaborated closely with the team of architects and acousticians throughout the 57 month construction period.

"Gesang vom Leben" ("Song of Life"), seen here through the glass is Sighard Gille's striking mural encompassing a vast area of the main foyer's sloping ceiling and the largest contemporary painting of its kind in Europe, it forms the Gewandhaus's figurehead. Illuminated at night, it radiates through the glass façade onto Augustusplatz. Although a really interesting and striking building, for some reason it does not lend itself to photography much. I found it very difficult to photograph.

This striking glass cube is an S-Bahn station in the city centre.

Schwebebahn Dresden, is one of the oldest suspension railways, having entered service in 1901, the same year the Wuppertal Schwebebahn entered service. Like the Wuppertal railway, this system was designed by Eugen Langen. The line is 274 metres (899 ft) long and is supported on 33 pillars. Despite its unusual suspended format, the Dresden Suspension Railway is operated as a conventional funicular railway. The two cars are attached to each other by a cable, which runs around a drum at the top of the incline. The ascending car is pulled up the hill by the weight of the descending car, assisted if necessary by an electric drive to the drum.

The Transparent Factory is car factory and exhibition space in Dresden, Germany owned by German carmaker Volkswagen and designed by architect Gunter Henn. It originally opened in 2002, producing the Volkswagen Phaeton until 2016. As of 2017 it produces the electric version of the Golf.

The factory originally assembled Volkswagen's luxury sedan, the Phaeton. It used 60,000 magnets in its fully automated assembly line. Spare capacity was also used to build Bentley Continental Flying Spur vehicles destined for the European market until 2006, when all work was transferred to Bentley's plant in Crewe, England. Production of the Bentley Flying Spur resumed in late 2013. The factory only handled final assembly. Operations such as stamping and welding and the painting of the steel bodies took place in Zwickau. Painted bodies arrived at the factory by truck. The other 1200 parts and 34 preassembled components were shipped to a logistics center and are transported to the factory by CarGoTrams that run on Dresden's public transport tracks. All vehicle production at the factory ended in March 2016, before restarting again in 2017. The Volkswagen ID.3 is to be produced here from late 2020. I can recommend a tour of this factory, it is really amazing and a unique experience.

The trademark of the Transparent Factory, visible from some distance, is the 40-meter-high glass tower where completed vehicles are stored prior to collection.

Modern Dresden city centre. Definite East German influences in the look of the city. The day we left was the 75th anniversary to the day of the Dresden firebombing. The novel, "Slaughterhouse 5" by Kurt Vonnegut is partly based on his experience of being a prisoner of war in Dresden during the event.

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