DRESDEN, GERMANY: Situated by River Elbe, Dresden became a city in early 12th century. It has been the capital of German federal state of Saxony for many centuries. Therefore, this is the home to many Saxon kings and princes. They furnished the city with rich culture and artistic splendor over their reigns. Bombing during WWII destroyed the entire city center and ruined its original look. It was later reconstructed and restored to its former glory including some of the important buildings and churches. But you can still some black and burnt buildings in the old town…some evidences of what a war can do.
I loved Dresden. It didn’t, for some reason, look like another German city. Whenever I think of Dresden, its old town with astonishing old architectures come to my mind. Another of my favorite was walking by the river…even in cold winter, summer will surely be more beautiful here.
TIME of TRAVEL: Dresden was our fifth stop during the winter road trip we took in Christmas of 2013. Before coming to Dresden we made few stops at Fussen in Germany, Innsbruck and Salzburg in Austria, and then to Prague in Czech Republic. Germany can get really cold and windy in December but we handled it very well. The weather was unexpectedly not that freezing or snowy. It was below zero at night but during day it was very nice.
Last time we were in Dresden was in April of 2009. It was a short visit only for an hour when we were coming back from Prague. My husband stayed in the car with our daughter and I just took the camera and walked to Dresden Zwinger to take some pictures.
OUR HOTEL: We stayed in Holiday Inn Express in Dresden, less than 15 minutes of walk from the city center or old town. The hotel had free breakfast and Wi-Fi. The location was good too in a sense that it was only few steps away from a shopping street.
EATING and SHOPPING: We had our first dinner at a sushi place right in front of our hotel. Next lunch was at Restaurant Zur Frauenkirche in old town near Frauenkirche. They had plenty of different options of soup, salad, and yummy pastries.
I won’t say old town of Dresden is a paradise for shopping. It had souvenir stores here and there. No clothing or accessories stores came to my attention, may be they are on other sides where we didn’t go.
PLACES WE’VE VISITED: Most of the touristic spots of Dresden are in its old town or alstadt. We covered it on food but horse-carriage is also available. It’s pretty compact and organized. We had only a day to explore this town and these are what we did in Dresden:
1) FRAUENKIRCHE: Located in Neumarkt of old town, Frauenkirche is the most famous landmark of Dresden. The church is very beautiful inside as well as outside. Interior of this church is relatively modern and not a typical looking one. A statue of King Augustus II and another statue of St. Martin Luther stand at two sides of this church. Frauenkirche was completely destroyed during WWII and was later reconstructed in 2005. It’s free to enter and visitors can climb its tower for a great view.
2) SCHLOSSPLATZ – FURSTENZUG and HOFKIRCHE: This is probably one of the best places to enjoy River Elbe. There is a pedestrian bridge or terrace where we went to get a fantastic view of the river and its banks. This is a nice place to take a stroll and enjoy city’s old architecture. Also, if you love taking photos at night, this is a perfect place for that too. You can see shadows of buildings and their lights on the river, looks stunning.
Furstenzug or “Procession of Princes” on Augustusstrasse in Schlossplatz is a famous mural from 1870s. This large mural depicts processions of the rulers of Saxony on their horses in parade uniforms from 1127 – 1904. The original painting from late 19th century was replaced with some 23,000 ceramic tiles in early 1900. With a length of 335 ft., this is considered world’s biggest porcelain art-work.
Hofkirche or Dresden Cathedral in Schlossplatz is located by River Elbe in the old town. This is a big cathedral with all white interior, a grand organ, and nice altar. Its exterior is intriguingly beautiful with many statues of saints on the walls and roofs.
3) NEUSTADTER MARKT and GOLDENER REITER: After spending some in Schlossplatz we crossed the big bridge, called Augustus Bridge, and entered new part of the town. There are few things to see here, like Japanese Palace and some museums. We only went to the big square on the other side of the bridge after crossing an intersection. There is a golden statue of King Friedrich Augustus II in Neustadt, known as Goldener Reiter.
4) ELBE RIVER BANKS: We enjoyed view of the banks of Elbe while crossing King Augustus Bridge that connects old town with the new town. This long stretch of meadow by River Elbe is a very beautiful place to sit around or picnic goers in summer.
5) SEMPER OPERA: Semper Opera is definitely an eye-catching building in old town and is one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. It was badly destroyed during WWII but was later rebuilt in 1985. It is located in Theaterplatz, opposite of Hofkirche. It can only be visited by guided tour, but unfortunately the tour was not available during our visit.
6) DRESDEN ZWINGER: This is the main attraction of Dresden. It’s a big garden surrounded by old Baroque palace buildings on all sides. These palaces were never completed. Dresden Zwinger includes Semper Building, Glockenspiel Pavilion (Clock Tower), Crown Gate, Rampart Pavilion, Nymphs’ Bath, and Marble Hall. Three museums that tourists can visit in these buildings are – Math and Physics, Porcelain, and Art museum. This is a beautiful place to walk around. I remember from my 2009 visit here that all the gardens were looking fabulous with all the flowers and fountains. It was a bit dull in winter but you can still enjoy walking on the terrace or on the ground with many other tourists.
Dresden Zwinger is located right beside Semper Opera. There is no ticket to enter the courtyard or garden but the museums require tickets.
7) GRÜNES GEWÖLBE – MUSEUM of TREASURY ART: The Grunes Gewolbe is world renown as one of the richest treasure chambers in the world and definitely Europe’s most splendid treasure chamber museum. There are two permanent exhibitions in the Residenzschloss. Historic Grunes Gewolbe – Baroque Treasure Chamber is on the first floor of Residenzschloss. And the one we visited was Neues Grunes Gewolbe.
Museum of Treasury Art includes three sections: Turkish – Ottoman art from 5th century, Treasury – Historical Green Vault, and Armory.
Museum of Treasury Art, the Neues Grunes Gewolbe contains more than 1,000 priceless and exquisite antique objects. We were fascinated by every individual item and the infinite wealth of details on these extraordinary works of art like everyone else in that museum. It contains unique goldsmith’s artistic items made by court jeweler Dinglinger, an outstanding artist of Baroque jewelry work. You can also find precious objects made of amber, mother of pearl, and ivory gemstone vessels and elegant bronze statuettes. Exclusive royal jewelries, wall-hangings/tapestries, portraits, and parade textiles are also here. These are from personal collection of King August the Strong, mostly dating from 1697 to 1719.
Two of the most dazzling and remarkable work of art here are: 1) “Dresden Green Diamond” – the most valuable diamond of the entire jewel treasure in the Green Vault and is the biggest green diamond in the world. This is an exceptionally precious 41 carats green diamond with tiny cherry stone carved with gold and silver. No one knows how it came to Dresden from India many years ago. 2) The “Royal Court” at Delhi (India) on the occasion of the Grand Mogul Aurangzeb by Johann Melchior Dinglinger from 1701. This is a detail ornamental depiction of “The Throne of the Grand Mogul Aurangzeb”.
In the Turkish exhibition, you can see August the Great’s huge Turkish collection, armory, and antiques. Armory section also has a gorgeous collection and depictions of arms, swords, battle-uniforms, amours, weapons, and shields.
Museum is located in old town and is open every from 10 – 6 except Tuesdays. It was 10 euros per adult to visit Neues Grunes Gewolbe (Historic Grunes Gewolbe is separate). We weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside.