The ugly blot on Dresden’s landscape: Bridge opens after Unesco dispute
Thousands of Dresdeners cocked a collective snook at Unesco today and held a party on the Elbe city’s “ugly” new road bridge, which opens to traffic tomorrow despite furious objections from the UN heritage body, which stripped Dresden of its world heritage status in protest against the structure.
The new €182m (£156m) four-lane “Walschlösschenbrücke” is designed to ease traffic congestion at crossing points over the Elbe. But it took more than seven years to build and faced massive legal and public protests despite being approved by two-thirds of the city’s voters.
The project became steeped in controversy almost from the word go. Unesco dubbed the bridge a “national disgrace”.
A powerful anti-bridge movement, which accused Dresden of “capitulating to the car industry”, formed and demanded that a tunnel be built instead. It organised protest rallies attended by leading figures, including the Nobel Prize-winning writer, Günter Grass.
Stanislaw Tillich, the conservative Prime Minister of the east German state of Saxony, of which Dresden is the capital, applauded the city’s residents for giving their continued “courageous backing” to the bridge despite international and domestic protest.
Unesco put the Dresden on its list of 981 World Heritage sites in 2004 after millions of euros were spent on reconstructing the city – once dubbed “Florence on the Elbe” – from the rubble heap it was reduced to in a single night during the Allied air raid of 13 February 1945.
The UN body was particularly impressed by the view of Dresden’s restored 18th-century skyline, which can now be seen again from upriver. The panorama includes the city’s rebuilt baroque “Church of our Lady” completed in 2005. Unesco said that the new bridge wrecked the view.
However the arguments of the anti-bridge protesters and the UN were defeated by a German appeals court in 2007. Judges upheld the result of a 2005 Dresden referendum which found that 68 per cent of voters were in favour of the bridge. They said the result had to be respected as a product of “direct democracy” and ruled that the protesters were in no position to oppose the bridge.
Unesco responded in 2009 by taking the unprecedented decision to “de-list” Dresden from its World Heritage line-up.
But a spot poll in which 500 Dresdeners took part at the weekend found that the overwhelming majority felt that: “The bridge is not as bad as it’s made out to be”.
Peaches Geldof cause of death: 'Heroin addict' socialite had taken fatal dose of drug, inquest concludes
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned
Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israel may have committed war crimes, says UN human rights chief
Peaches Geldof inquest: Tragic final moments of socialite's life reveal she lied to husband about failed heroin tests
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...
£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...
£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...