A three mile tram ride from Dresden city centre and a short walk across the river Elbe brings us to the Loschwitz Schwebebahn. Loschwitz is a comfortable, long established suburb untouched by the fire-bombing, built on the slopes leading down to the Elbe. The Schwebebahn is a suspended monorail built in 1901 that carries passengers to and from the heights of Oberloschwitz where the most grandiose of Dresden’s 19th. century suburban villas are to be found. Eugen Langen, designer of the much more extensive Wuppertal Schwebebahn was responsible for this cumbersome project with its complicated support structure - an orthodox funicular railway would have done the job at a lower cost. There’s a vaguely Jugendstil station building at the lower level on Pillnitzer Landstraße - built in rough finished stone, it has an arcaded entrance and a jaunty stepped gable. It suggests an intention to bring a sense of occasion to the Schwebebahn experience. At the summit is a tall tower built to house the winding engine but detailed as if it were a baronial fortress. Local residents use the Schwebebahn to reach the amenities at the foot of the slope and return, avoiding a breathless footslog up the fierce gradient. It makes for an incongruous sight as the two cabins slowly rise and descend over the sedate townscape with its network of twisting footpaths and narrow roads - especially strange when it inches forward across the public highway.
Those with an appetite for white knuckle rides can relive this thrilling descent in its entirety via this embedded video. Highlights include the ghostly reflections of the production team, one of whom grows increasingly restive at the imposition of a ban on conversation.