Dresden, capital of the German Bundesland Saxony and located on the shore of the river Elbe, is a paradise for lovers of architecture and the arts. Heavily bombed and destroyed during WWII, renovation and restoration has nearly completely restored the city’s former glory.
Here is a list of the top 10 attractions to visit whilst in Dresden.
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10 Top Tourist Attractions in Dresden
10 Pfund’s Dairy
Make your way to Bautzener Strasse and enter the enticing world of Pfund’s dairy. Sine 1997 entered in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s most beautiful dairy, the brain child of Paul Pfund will leave you breathless. 248m2 of hand painted tiles decorate walls and ceilings of the diary. Paul Pfund came to Dresden in 1879 with a vision to provide clean and healthy milk for the population. Since then his empire has grown to products such as milk soap, milk grappa, all types of cheeses and much more.
Sample food and local wines either in the shop or the adjacent restaurant and don’t forget to buy some of the products as a unique souvenir.
Dresden is a city which has, literally, risen from the ashes. You an experience her many attractions either on foot, on a guided tour or getting on one of the hop-on, hop-off buses.
Not to be missed is a boat tour on the river Elbe to see the panorama from the water. The Elbe is one of Germany’s biggest and busiest rivers, emptying into the North Sea at Hamburg. River traffic has a long tradition in Dresden. The so-called Elbkaehne are legendary. Catch one of the steam boats at the stop a 5 min walk from Theaterplatz, then go upriver to Blasewitz. Walk back over the Blaues Wunder , then take the mountain railway up the Elbe slope to Oberloschwitz. You can’t get a more complete overview of all the major attractions in any other way.
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9 Japanese Palais
Kurfuerst Friedrich August had a dream: he wanted to build a small castle made entirely from porcelain. In 1717 he bought a palais located at the shore of the river Elbe in Dresden’s Neustadt and ordered the conversion.
Visit the Japanese Palais today and see how far he got. Although the complete porcelain castle did not become a reality, the Japanese Palais features curved Japanese style roofs, chinoiserie walls and decorations and was, until 1830, home to what is today called Moritzburger Federzimmer (feather chamber) . August was captivated by a French made luxury bed, the canopy and curtains of which were made from over 1 Mill. colored feathers, woven into the fabric. August loved the canopy but had the curtains made into wall hangings.
In 1830 the bed and other valuables were removed the nearby Schloss Moritzburg which is a lovely destination for a short day trip from Dresden. Apart from being an architectural jewel, the Japanese Palais houses the natural history museums and a coin collection.
Dresden’s Altmarkt, first mentioned in 1370, is the city’s oldest square. The most outstanding building is the Kreuzkirche which dominates one corner. Originally a Renaissance building, the church, like so many others in Dresden, was destroyed and has been rebuilt in Baroque style.
As a center of trade and activity, the Altmarkt was the location of many enterprises and interesting buildings over the centuries. Old Townhall, Café Kreuzkamm and Goldener Ring, the most elegant inn, are just a few names defining Dresden’s past. Remarkable is also Loewen Apotheke, where the pharmacist developed Chlorodont Toothpaste in 1907.
WWII and the bombs put an end to all this and none of the original buildings remain. But, Dresden is a thriving city and the Altmarkt is yet again a center for shopping and relax. Visit the gallery DeutscheEuropshop in the pedestrian area and have a coffee in the new Café Prag.
Altmarkt is the venue for the Strietzelmarkt at Christmas and for the huge Dresdner Herbstmarkt. Several commemorative plaques remind the visitor of the Altmarkt’s history.
Dresden’s Frauenkirche, situated on the Neumarkt is an absolute must not least because of the church’s history. The protestant equivalent to the catholic Hofkirche, the origins of the Frauenkirche date back to the year 1000 when it was a wooden church.
The biggest extension to the church took place between 1726 and 1743 when it became one of the most important clerical Baroque buildings in Europe with an immense stone cupola.
Disaster struck in 1945 when three consecutive bombing nights totally destroyed the church leaving just a blackened ruin.
For several decades, the ruin remained untouched as a Monument Against War. Only in 1994 was it decided to rebuild the Frauenkirche in its Baroque form, an undertaking which was completed in 2005. Remarkable is the underground part of the church, called Unterkirche which today also serves as a concert hall.
Located in the heart of Dresden’s Old Town, the Residenzschloss is another top attraction. The first castle dates back to the 16th century, with subsequent extensions and renovations as the power and influence of the Kurfuersten von Sachsen grew. It’s a Renaissance building which already under Kurfuerst Friedrich August in 1723 was opened to the public to allow them to view the vast collections of art.
Today, the Residenzschloss houses the five most important museums of Dresden. Highlight is the Green Chamber, a richly decorated hall with columns made of green malachite which gave the room its name. A total of more than 4000 works of art are exhibited in the Residenzschloss. Over 1000 are kept in the Green Chamber alone, most of them miniatures adored with semi precious stones and gold. Entire scenes are depicted like the throne and audiences of Great Mogul Aureng-Zeb.
The Residenzschloss can claim to be one of the oldest museums in the world and houses the biggest collection of its kind in Europe.
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5 Das Blaue Wunder
Dresden’s location along the river Elbe necessitated the construction of several bridges. The Loschwitzer Bruecke, inaugurated in 1893, is the newest and longest with 280m. It is the only one made without the support of pylons in the river, hence the nickname Wunder or wonder. Painted blue and illuminated at night, the bridge connects two residential areas of Dresden and is accessible to cars and pedestrians. It is also the trade mark of Dresden and well worth a visit.
Should you be lucky enough to visit Dresden around Christmas, a visit to the oldest Christmas market in Europe is a must. The tradition goes back to 1434 when the market started as a day long meat market. Later it evolved into a huge Christmas market which, among other things, features the world’s biggest wooden pyramid and a Stollen baking festival. Stollen is the traditional bread like sweet of Dresden.
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The Hofkirche is the catholic cathedral of Dresden, connected by a walkway to the Residenzschloss. Again built under the reign of Kurfuerst Friedrich August who was also King of Poland, the cathedral is an important monument of Baroque.
78 statues and sculptures of saints decorate the façade. The gold and marble High Altar in the interior catch the eye as does the gigantic organ.Five bells sound three times a day over the roofs of Dresden.
Dresden’s Zwinger is a complex of representative buildings, gardens and parks and one of the most important examples of Baroque in Europe. Commissioned by Kurfuerst Friedrich August and inspired by Versailles and Italy, the Zwinger served as castle, theatre, opera house and a place for the collection of porcelain, mainly from Meissen.
The vast complex consists of several pavilions and galleries and is entered through the Kronentor, a richly decorated arch. They house not only the porcelain collection but also paintings and other works of art and science.
The gardens in the style of Versailles invite to strolls along sculptures and fountains. Highlight is the so called Nymphenbad with elaborate cascades. Reserve several hours for your visit if you want to appreciate the opulence of Baroque art and lifestyle.
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Named after its architect, the history of Dresden’s Opera house goes back to 1667. The present building at Theatre Square in the heart of Dresden’s historical old town is actually the third. Previous structures fell victim to fires and bombs, and even this one was seriously damaged in a great Elbe flood in 2002.However, you can admire the formidable opera house, nowfully repaired. Semper created the semi circular main building in the style of early Italian Renaissance. Acoustics are enhanced by shell shaped ornaments along the balconies. Highlight is the hand painted curtain, hand sewn from Belgian linen.
Paintings and sculptures throughout catch the eye. Even if you don’t have the time to attend a performance, you can tour the opera house.