I went to Dresden on Saturday
Everyone knows the city was basically destroyed in WWII, but not everyone knows that it was famous before that.
Dresden was considered Germany's Venice in the first half of the 20th century, and a lot of Germans thought it was over the top for the US and British to destroy it so completely
The Allies argue that Dresden was a communications, infrastructure and production hub in 1945, and that intelligence at the time suggested that bombing it would hasten the end of the war by up to 6 months.
To which the Germans retort that all the war production and infrastructure was outside the city center. Dresden's major bridges, for example, weren't even targeted by British bombers.
Meanwhile, while everyone's been arguing, the city has rebuilt itself, exactly as it was.
Walking around, you realize that the grandeur of old-timey European architecture is as dependent on its age as its artistry.
Baroque buildings without grime or wear, built by construction cranes and rendering software, dull their impact and make you feel like you're at LegoLand.
That's not really Dresden's fault, of course. What else are they gonna do?
Fashioning a bunch of replicas beats building a mall or a high rise, and allows the city to feel like it's finally trampling the past.
Still, it's strange to be reminded of destruction not by ruins but by renewal.
Suddenly old buildings aren't monuments or achievements, they're survivors.