Luther statue in Dresden
We had a beautiful time in Dresden, where are many Reformation connections there, as well as lots of other historical and cultural sites. You see what it means that Dresden was the capital of the influential Kingdom of Saxony for hundreds of years. From my own research, I love seeing the things that have to do with the dukes of the 16th century: Georg, Heinrich, Moritz and August. Georg hated the Reformation, his brother Heinrich introduced the Reformation, Moritz (I would argue) helped save the Reformation, and August institutionalized it. That's about 80 years of Dresden's religious history in a nutshell.
This is a photo taken from the ground floor of the Kreuzkirche (Church of the Cross), which has burned down five times over the centuries, often due to war. The last time, they decided not to rebuild it in its previously ornate baroque style. So it stays a very stark white/gray as a statement against violence. Looking up from where I was standing are some puti adorning the balcony. Maybe a hundred feet higher at the top of the ceiling is that simple cross.
Rubbing Bach's shoe for good luck.
There's this thing that happens in traveling: how to balance seeing the cool stuff and not feeling like you're on a forced march.
I think we're doing a pretty good job of enjoying really fascinating history, buildings, talks, tours, etc. with time for people to explore, shop or rest on their own. Today there wasn't as much shopping or exploring time as other days. However, we had a very good tour of Erfurt, along with visits by bus to the Wartburg Castle and the Bachhaus in Eisenach. There we heard an outstanding little concert of instruments from Bach's time.
So it's a puzzle. Tomorrow is another mix of guided tour, free time, bus travel, checking into a new hotel, and exploring Weimar and Dresden. It should be very cool... but it will take a little effort!
On Sunday night we enjoyed a free public concert of a Leipzig orchestra (THE Leipzig Orchestra?) playing soul music. Dinner in Auerbachs Keller was great (beef roulade & dumplings).The tour, free time and discussion of the 1989 Peaceful Revolution were also very good about how people worked together to fight the regime. We're now in Erfurt, which is another one of my favorite cities: charming, kinda quiet, pretty and a Luther city.Today we go to Wartburg Castle and Bach's birth house in Eisenach. It's a gorgeous day. Check out the new Leipzig University chapel below (a combination lecture hall/classroom space/chapel). Very nice bathrooms.
Today we worshiped in the church where Luther was baptized in Eisleben on St. Martin's Day 1483. He died here, too, in 1546.
Lunch was bratwurst and crepes outside, with a dessert of roasted almonds. We then went to Halle and visited the Francke Foundations.
We're now in Leipzig, going to dinner at Auerbach's Keller, a 480 year old restaurant where Faust ate in Goethe's play. Tomorrow we get to visit Bach's Thomaskirche and learn about the peaceful revolution of 1989.
My favorite thing about the trip overall has been a sense of how relevant the past is. There's always something to learn. We don't have to duplicate the past but it is inspiring to see how people like Francke took what they were given and adapted it to meet the needs of their time.
Salutations from Leipzig.
It's beautiful here in Wittenberg. But the floods are still coming down the Elbe, so the big town festival has been cancelled. It is too bad, but really it would be worse to bring so many people to an area that may potentially get flooded. The old town section should be safe, but the trains have been shut down in some directions. Rather than complain, though, we are glad to be here and hope and pray that people stay safe. There's a chance that some of us may help with sandbags, turning this into a potential service project.
Berlin was great, with visits to Unter den Linden, remaining parts of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie and Potsdamer Platz. Hilde and I had a great walk along with Spree with our friend Claus just after we arrived. My dad and I ate Schweinshaxe for lunch yesterday, before Hilde and I went to Legoland. Also, the group has been great to travel with.
Today we tour the city of Wittenberg, also visiting the Luther House and Melanchthon House. I'm across the street now from the Bugenhagen House, which was a parsonage for almost 500 years before being converted into a conference center, where I had the privilege of being part of a conference in 2007. That's the Bugenhagenhaus out my window, in the foreground of the City Church.
So things are great. Please pray for those affected by flooding, meaning not my group of travelers but people whose lives have been great upset by it.
Getting ready to go and praying for those affected by flooding in Germany & Prague. Our tour may have to be a little flexible, but that's nothing compared to having daily life changed dramatically by severe weather. Ready for a great trip with Hilde and the rest of the Reformation Trippers!