Thomas Will, Dresden, Reconstruction of the Neumarkt, May 2008.

In the 1980s, questions were already being asked about the possibility of restoring Neumarkt square “to its original state”, but it was only after the astonishing reconstruction of the Frauenkirche that this dream seemed possible.

In order to carry out this highly ambitious project, a list of historic buildings was drawn up: remarkable buildings that were to be restored to their original state. At first the list was limited to 19 buildings, but it eventually grew to include 62.

Neumarkt square and its surrounding streets were redesigned according to the city’s plan and the resulting plots were given to various developers. The developers had to follow the general plan, so as to ensure the homogeneity of the new urban composition, which saw these buildings raised from the ashes of bombed Dresden. In the gaps between the listed buildings, new buildings were constructed, whose designs avoided any ostentatious modernity.

The new Neumarkt is a city that has retained only the outward appearance of old Dresden’s buildings: behind the baroque and eclectic facades are covered courtyards and interiors that meet today’s living standards (lifts and other modern amenities). This “identical” reconstruction, which is almost completed, only concerns the appearance of the buildings because, for the sake of speed and economy, no attempt has been made to reuse the construction techniques of the past. It is an effective setting that is in harmony with the Frauenkirche, delighting the gaze of many tourists who are now rediscovering Dresden as it was always meant to be: Florence on the Elbe.

Sonia de Puineuf