Dresden: A Fantastic Destination in Germany

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Dresden is one the greatest Baroque cities in Europe. Located in Germany, around 30 km north of the border with the Czech Republic, it stands majestically astride the Elbe River _ which divides the Old Town from the New Town.

The Saxon rulers seated here and built sumptuous palaces and magnificent churches and left behind an array of historic artifacts that are now displayed in museums in Dresden and worldwide. Severely destroyed during the bombings that took place in the WWII, it’s hard to believe that the awe-inspiring city is the result of its rising from its ashes after being neglected under the Soviet regime.  Take your time to stroll along Brühl’s Terrace, admire the town from its bridges and discover everything it has to offer. It bursts with history and culture and it’s one of the major tourist destinations in the country.

Those organizing a road trip across the Sachsen region in Germany should definitely include it. Amongst the major cities nearby we can mention Berlin, Nuremberg and Leipzig. Roads in Germany are in general in excellent driving condition and American drivers can always buy car rental insurance online to get the protection and coverage they and their rental need.

Are you tempted to discover some of the most remarkable highlights of the city? Go on reading to find out why Dresden is an absolute must-see!

Visit the Frauenkirche

Built in 1726-1743, the Frauenkirche or Church of Our Lady is the most important Baroque church in Germany. Its sandstone dome is the largest stone dome north of the Alps. It was destroyed by Allied bombing in 1945 and in 2005, after 11 years of work, the reconstruction project was finished. It’s one of the must-sees in Dresden as it dominates the historic center of Dresden in Neumarkt Square in the heart of the Aldstadt.

The Frauenkirche is a Lutheran church and a place of music with an estimated 130 concerts and church music events a year. Visitors can climb up one of the towers and reach a viewing platform located at 70 meters from where they can appreciate unique views of Dresden and its surroundings. An elevator takes you up the first third stairs and a gradual spiral ramp the next. Finally, there’s a short steep set of stairs followed by a spiral staircase.

The interior of the church is equally stunning. Painted in pastel shades not often seen in European cathedrals, it has quite expansive interiors, fitting four stories of wooden balconies surrounding the altar. The altar, pulpit and baptismal font are directly in line of view of the congregation.

There are guided tours available where you can learn about the church’s history and its reconstruction process.

Brülsche Terrasse

Nicknamed “The Balcony of Europe”, Brülsche Terrasse or Bruhl’s Terrace is a promenade lined by some of Dresden’s most beautiful buildings such as the Albertinum Museum, the Opera House or the Royal Art Academy amongst others. Strollers can admire great views of the Elbe River on one side and the Frauenkirche on the Old Town side and if they go to the western end of the Terrasse, get ready to see some incredible sunset views! Since it’s only a short walk from the Neumarkt and Frauenkirche, it’s a very popular spot amongst tourists.

The Brülsche Terrasse is a great place to stop for a coffee and a delicious slice of cake while watching people passing by. A staircase flanked by four bronze sculptures connects the terrace with the Schlossplatz.

It was originally built as fortifications, as a part of a structure designed to protect the city from intruders. Between 1738 and 1748, a minister called von Brühl transformed the ramparts into a garden with terraces.

Zwinger Palace

Zwinger Palace is one of the finest examples of late Baroque architecture in Germany. Built between 1710 and 1728, it was used for court festivities and tournaments. Today, it’s a complex of pavilions, galleries and inner courtyards that is home to splendid museums including the Old Masters Gallery, the Semper Gallery, the Mathematical-Physical Salon and the Porcelain Collection. You can visit the museums individually or purchase a combined ticket to see all of them in a day.

Needless to say, it’s one of the most famous attractions in Dresden. Its ornate architecture will please design lovers while its pristine gardens are perfect for a relaxed stroll or a romantic picnic. It was built by Pöppelmann in cooperation with the sculptor Permoser and it was commissioned by Augustus II. Take your time to admire the Zwinger Carillon at the SE end: a clock with a cascade of bells made from Meissen porcelain that plays a melody every 15 minutes.

Despite being completely destroyed during WWII, it was rebuilt soon after while it was under Soviet control. It’s a magnificent palace and you’ll definitely enjoy your time here! It’s one of the most picturesque places in Dresden and just walking along its lovely gardens makes you feel like royalty.

Your eyes will naturally be drawn to the richly embellished Rampart Pavilion at the centre. An unexpected highlight is the Nymphenbad, an enclosed courtyard and fountain area with a mix-match of fascinating nymph and Triton statues. Take your time as well to admire The Crown Gate, The Wall Pavillion, the Arched Gallery amongst many other gorgeous attractions.

Admire Art at the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery)

The Old Masters Picture Gallery in Dresden is part of the city’s art collections and it’s amongst the most prominent museums in the world. One of the pavilions at the Zwinger Palace, it is home to one of the finest collections of Old Master paintings in the world with an extensive collection of Italian Renaissance art as well as some of the earliest European art and works by some of the greatest artists that ever lived.

There are over 750 paintings, including works by Rembrandt, Raphael, Jan van Eyck, Johannes Vermeer, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Titian, Tintoretto, Dürer, Holbein, Brueghel, Van Dyck, Botticelli and many others. Art lovers will love its different exhibition halls and discover masterpieces everywhere they look such as Raphael’s Sistine Madonna! Don’t miss Canaletto’s portrayals of XVIII-century Dresden on the top floor!

Admire Dresden PorcelainCollection

The Dresden Collection is the largest and most exquisite specialist ceramics collection in the world with the hall of Meissen porcelain animals as a special attraction. It features porcelain dating from the XVII and earl XVIIIcenturies and more and it contains Japanese and Chinese porcelain including blue and white porcelain and the Dragoon Vases, which were acquired from King Frederick William I by Augustus in exchange for a regiment of dragoons.

Part of the Zwinger Palace, you’ll have the chance to admire works from the Ming and Qing Dynasties in China to Japanese Imari and Kakiemon pieces. Another important part of the collection is the Saxon porcelain, in particular, Meissen porcelain.

Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments

No matter how hard you found Maths and Physics while at High School, the Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments, within the Zwinger Palace, is a fascinating museum where you can appreciate globes, astronomical, optical and geodetic devices that date back to the XVI century as well as historic instruments for drawing, calculating and measuring.

Visit Residenzschloss, Dresden Castle

Residenzschloss or Dresden Castle is an incredible castle and an absolute must-see. With origins as a Romanesque keep, it has undergone several extensions and reconstructions since the 1200s so it’s now a mix of architectural styles and influences mostly neo-Renaissance and Baroque. It was home to Saxony kings in the XV century. It was destroyed in the WWII during the bombing of Dresden but luckily for us now, it was rebuilt in the 1980s and we can now admire its wonderful architecture.

Located in the Altstadt, it’s one of the most remarkable highlights in Dresden and, once inside, it hosts some of the finest museums in the country: the historic Green Vault and the New Green Vault; the Numismatic Cabinet; the Collection of Prints, Drawings and Photographs and the Dresden Armory with the Turkish Chamber.

The Turkish Chamber has one of the best collections of Ottoman artifacts outside of Turkey. Silk and gilded leather tents with their marquee-like shape reach to the ceiling. Horses dressed in heavy armor gilded with precious metals and glittering gems take center stage. There’s plenty of Ottoman weaponry, swords and rifles that are more decorative than functional as well. The New Hall of Giants holds an impressive jousting exhibition. Suits of armor, jousts and horses decorated with ornamental cloth and iron shields will captivate children and adults alike.

The Collection of Prints includes over 515000 historic artifacts. The items on display include prints and drawings from some of the Old Masters such as Michelangelo and Rembrandt.

Needless to say, you can easily spend several hours here exploring the various collections on display so make sure you give yourself plenty of time. Start in the Royal State Apartments, the lavish series of rooms designed in 1719 under August the Strong; they include an audience chamber with an elaborately painted ceiling and the king’s throne and a royal bedroom with an imposing imperial bed.

Don’t Miss The Grünes Gewölbe or Green Vault

The Green Vault, one of the five museums within the Dresden Residenzschloss, is one of the most unique museums in Germany and it deserves a separate mention in our list of most interesting things to see and do in Dresden.

Opened by Augustus  the Strong in 1723, it contains the largest collection of treasures in Europe. There are all kinds of artifacts dating from the Baroque to the Classical period and some believe it’s one of the oldest museums in the continent.

The assortment of treasures is absolutely fabulous. Along with the ten rooms, you can appreciate rococo chests, ivory carvings, bronze statuettes, intricately designed mirrors, gold jewelry and priceless porcelain.

The Historisches Grünes Gewölbe contains captivating works of art in a baroque setting, and the treasures are displayed on gilt consoles in front of mirrored walls. The Neues Grünes Gewölbe has around 1000 selected masterpieces of treasury art in showcases made of anti-glare glass.

Take your time to walk through the different treasures. It’s an experience of a lifetime! Amongst the highlights of your visit, don’t miss the largest green diamond in the world, an exotic ensemble of 132 gem-studded figurines representing a royal court in India and a cherry pit with 185 faces carved on it!

Admire the Fürstenzug

Located along one of the outer walls of the Dresden Castle, the Fürstenzug or Procession of the Princes is an impressive mural of the rules of Saxony. It was painted in the 1870s to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Wettin Dynasty. In the early 1900s, the painting was replaced with 23 thousand Meissen porcelain tiles to ensure the mural could withstand all types of weather. Spanning 102 meters in length, the Fürstenzug is the largest piece of porcelain artwork in existence.

As you admire it, you’ll be able to spot 35 margraves, electors, dukes and kings of the House of Wettin between 1127 and 1904. The view is absolutely mesmerizing, especially if you pay attention to the details as each ruler is portrayed showing off something interesting or funny about him.

Visit the Albertinum

Named after King Albert of Saxony, the Albertinum is the most famous art museum in Dresden. Its collection includes sculptures and paintings from renowned artists such as Richter or Rodin and it is acknowledged as one of the finest art institutions in Germany.

The museum was built on the foundations of a former armory, this superb museum includes pieces of art from ancient Greece and Rome and European carvings all the way from antiquity to the present. The collection also includes works from the Baroque, Renaissance periods and Late Saxon wood carvings.

The Albertinum is one of the must-see attractions in Dresden. It stands out because of its collection of sculptures that spans from the classical antiquity period to the XX century. Home to the New Master’s Gallery and a sculpture collection, it’s a gorgeous gallery on Bruhl’s Terrace. Admire works by Picasso, Van Gogh or Richter amongst many others! And fall in love with sculptures such as The Thinker or John the Baptist by Rodin or charming The Little Dancer by Degas.

Stroll the Kunsthofpassage and Look For the Singing Pipes

Rainy days in Dresden have something ultra special for tourists: head to the Neustadt area and stop by the Kunsthofpassage. It’s one of the most iconic landmarks in the Neustadt’s and it’s an invitation to admire and be surprised with the series of connected courtyards with some very cool art on display.

It’s one of the coolest and trendiest areas in Dresden and it’s home to cool bookshops and cafés.

Each of the courtyards has its own charm and beauty but the most popular amongst tourists are the Court of Elements and the Court of the Animals. In the Court of Elements, music is created by water running through interlinked rain pipes affixed to a turquoise facade. In the other one, monkeys leap above the head of a giant giraffe. It’s a great place to take some cool photos and enjoy a German beer in a great atmosphere!

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