Dresden City Hall (Rathaus) with its 98-metre tower. Photo: Christoph Münch (DWT)

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City Mayors reports news from towns and cities around the world. Worldwide | Elections | North America | Latin America | Europe | Asia | Africa |


City Mayors ranks the world’s largest, best as well as richest cities and urban areas. It also ranks the cities in individual countries, and provides a list of the capital cities of some 200 sovereign countries. More


City Mayors profiles city leaders from around the world. More


City Mayors describes the history, architecture and politics of the greatest city halls in the world. More


Mayors from The Americas, Europe. Asia, Australia and Africa compete for the World Mayor Award. More


Use
Mayor Monitor to rate the performance of mayors from across the world More


In your opinion: Praise Criticise. Write


City Mayors reports political events, analyses the issues and depicts the main players. More


City Mayors describes and explains the structures and workings of local government in Europe, The Americas, Asia, Australia and Africa. More


City Mayors deals with economic and investment issues affecting towns and cities. More


City Mayors describes and explains financial issues affecting local government. More


City Mayors reports urban environmental developments and examines the challenges faced by cities worldwide. More


City Mayors reports on and discusses urban development issues in developed and developing countries. More


City Mayors reports on developments in urban society and behaviour and reviews relevant research. More


City Mayors invites readers to write about the people in their cities. More


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City Mayors lists and features urban events, conferences and conventions aimed at urban decision makers and those with an interst in cities worldwide. More



City Mayors deals with urban transport issues in developed and developing countries and features the world’s greatest metro systems. More


City Mayors examines education issues and policies affecting children and adults in urban areas. More


City Mayors investigates health issues affecting urban areas with an emphasis on health in cities in developing countries. More


City Mayors reports on how business developments impact on cities and examines cooperation between cities and the private sector. More


City Mayors examines the contributions history and culture make to urban society and environment. More


City Mayors examines the importance of urban tourism to city economies. More


City Mayors questions those who govern the world’s cities and talks to men and women who contribute to urban society and environment. More


City Mayors profiles national and international organisations representing cities as well as those dealing with urban issues. More


City Mayors reports on major national and international sporting events and their impact on cities. More


City Mayors lists cities and city organisations, profiles individual mayors and provides information on hundreds of urban events. More


Dresden City Hall
By Gregor Gosciniak, German Editor

7 August 2005: Dresden’s famous skyline, which has been painted by many great artists including, in the 18th century, by Canaletto (Bernardo Bellotto), is dominated by historic buildings such as the Semper Opera House, the Residenzschloß (Royal Palace), with the Hausmannsturm tower, the Catholic Hofkirche (Court Church) and the distinct cupola, known as ‘lemon squeezer’, of the Dresden Art Academy. In 2004, this unique scenery was completed by the restoration of the cupola of the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady). The Dresden City Hall, too, blends in harmonically with the city’s silhouette. Being the heart of the Dresden’s political life and administration, it has seen many changes and upheavals in its history.

Dresden, today’s capital of Saxony, was first mentioned in 1206 in an official document of the margrave Dietrich der Bedrängte (Dietrich the Thronged). In 2006, the city will celebrate its 800-year jubilee.

Sauntering from Brühlsche Terrasse towards the Altmarkt (Old Market), one reaches the historic centre of Dresden. First mentioned in 1370, the Altmarkt used to be the setting for lavish festivals, tournaments and bloody animal fights, until the Zwinger building was constructed.

Dresden’s first City Hall was situated just north of the Residenzschloß. In its first official record in 1295, it was called a ‘Kaufhaus’, a store. Only with its increasing significance as residence of the city council, administrative building and meeting place in the 14th and 15th century, the Kaufhaus officially became the City Hall in 1380. In the centuries that followed, it underwent constant architectural modification.

Dresden’s development into a city and the increasing administrative tasks necessitated a new City Hall building around the turn of the 20th century. The young architect Karl Roth from Darmstadt won the architectural tender. The city’s building officer, Edmund Bräter, took charge of the construction. The third City Hall building on the river Elbe’s left bank was erected between 1905 and 1910 in the area of the Altmarkt and the Kreuzkirche. The grand, sandstone building impresses with baroque forms and a style mixture of Neo-Renaissance and Art Nouveau. During the bomb attacks in February 1945, the City Hall was so badly damaged that it was only re-erected in a ‘simplified version’ after the war. On the Rathausplatz, a monument by Walter Reinhold commemorates the efforts of all those women who removed the debris and rebuilt the city after its disastrous destruction. These women have come to be known as ‘Trümmerfrauen’ (debris women) in the collective memory.

The highlight of the four- to five-storey building with its six inner courts is the Rathaus tower, with the Golden “Rathausmann” statue enthroned on top of its 98 meters. The coloss with 4.9 meters of height embodies Hercules as a patron, holding his right hand over the city in a protective gesture and outpouring with his left hand his cornucopia above the city. The famous Dresden artist Richard Guhr created this sculpture out of gilded copper plate between 1908 and 1910, using the artiste and wrestler Ewald Redam as his model. But time did not spare Hercules and so he had to be removed from its place for restoration in August 2004. In time for Dresden’s 800th jubilee in 2006, he will again guarding the city from his towering position.

Next to the City Hall tower there are further interesting sights and architectural features: For instance, an art nouveau stairway, designed and painted by Otto Gussmann, leads to the festival and debating chamber. And in front of the entrance to the Ratskeller, in the basement of the City Hall, there is a bronze statue by Georg Wrba, called ‘Bacchus auf einem trunkenen Esel reitend’ (Bacchus riding on a drunken donkey). It is said to bring good luck if you touch the big toe of Dionysos, the god of wine.

Another highlight is the climb to the viewing platform of the City Hall tower, from where one can enjoy a marvellous view over the city and the Elbe valley towards the Sächsische Schweiz (Saxon Switzerland). The Elbe 18 kilometres long valley is characterised by a fascinating interplay of river and architecture, nature and culture. In June 2005, it was officially included in the list of UNESCO world heritage sites. The City Hall’s viewing platform is decorated with larger-than-life sandstone sculptures, created by renowned sculptors like Peter Pöppelmann, August Schreitmüller, Bruno Fischer and Arthur Selbman.

Since June 2001, Lord Mayor Ingolf Rossberg has been leading Dresden as head of the city council and city administration. He is supported by the city council (70 members – 21 CDU (Christian Democrats) 17 PDS (Democratic Socialists) 9 Die Grünen (Greens), 6 citizen’s faction and 3 independent.


Dresden's baroque skyline with the river Elbe in the foreground. Photo: Christoph Münch (DWT)


Introducing Dresden’s open-air season
Dresden’s open-air season starts each year in May, when the city turns into a huge open-air stage for the Dixieland Festival – in 2006 from 5 May to 17 May. Since 1971, Dresden has organised one of the biggest jazz festivals in Europe: Each year tens of thousands of enthusiastic Dixie fans surge into the city to listen to more than 300 musicians from more than 10 different countries. The highlight of the festival is the traditional street parade along the Brühlsche Terrasse, Semper Opera and Zwinger. www.dixieland.de

The film nights on the bank of the river Elbe are another important event of the Dresden open-air season. For 15 years, Europe’s most beautiful open-air cinema festival has been attracting film enthusiasts and concert goers. Approximately 50 films and 10 concerts annually attract 150.000 guests between June and August. www.filmnaechte-am-elbufer.de 

Every last weekend in June the Elbhangfest – a popular folk, art and culture festival – takes place on the bank of the Elbe between Pillnitz and Loschwitz. Stretching over seven kilometers, little markets, concerts, picturesque wine villages and gardens, street music and theatre performances invite visitors to linger. In 2005, the ceremonial act on the occasion of the award „UNESCO – World Heritage Dresden Elbe valley“ was the festival’s highlight. www.elbhangfest.de