Dresden is a stunning city which has one of the highest volume of tourists in the whole of Germany and has been called “Elbflorenz” (Florence of the Elbe). Rail lines connect Dresden to the rest of Germany and the nearby Czech Republic. Also, Berlin is only about 190 kilometers (120 miles) north of Dresden with Prague 90 miles south of Dresden.
The hills north and south of the Elbe Valley play a part in the mild climate which Dresden enjoys. Situated on both banks of the Elbe River, this unique site was a UNESCO World Heritage site until June 2009. Numerous parks and cultural monuments can be found along the Elbe. Dresden or Meissen china (porcelain) is something else which the city is famous for with the art of making porcelain originating in Dresden, but the industry moving to nearby Meissen in 1710. Learn more about the fascinating city with these 10 best things to do:
Compared by some to the famous Louvre Museum in Paris, this museum displays paintings, sculptures and even a gallery dedicated to the history of mathematical and physical instruments. It was originally designed as an orangery where orange trees and other potted plants could be stored in winter. Later it was used for court festivities and then for exhibitions.
Considered one of the best examples of Baroque architecture and built by the architect Pöppelmann in cooperation with the sculptor Permoser, The Zwinger was completed in 1719 and was commissioned by Augustus II. The name ‘Zwinger’ refers to the space between concentric rings that can be found in city fortifications. The museum here is known as the Semper building. The Old Masters Picture Gallery has more than 700 Old Master paintings, the Porcelain Collection and the Museum of Mathematics and Physics houses scientific apparatus including cartographic and measuring devices as well as optical equipment.
Address: Sophienstraße, 01067 Dresden, Germany
The Frauenkirche is a Lutheran church and an icon of the city with a history reaching back 1,000 years. It is also a place of music with an estimated 130 concerts and church music events a year. The famous dome structure here was built by George Bähr In the 18th century and dominated Dresden’s cityscape for 200 years. At 70 meters (220 feet), the viewing platform offers unique views over Dresden and its surroundings.
With interiors painted mostly in pastel shades not often seen in European cathedrals, this church has seven entrances and is located in the heart of Dresden. The church welcomes all guests who wish to enjoy the beauty of the building and admission is free during open church hours. However, donations are much appreciated.
Address: Neumarkt, 01067 Dresden, Germany
3. Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister
The Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery) is part of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections) that are among the most prominent museums in the world. It houses 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 (Dutch and Italian) and works by some of the greatest artists that ever lived. Attracting more than 500,000 art lovers from all over the world, the structure was originally built in 1855 following Gottfried Semper’s plans and was one of the most important museum projects in 19th-century Germany. The quality of the works here and the magnificent architectural features of the building continue to enthrall visitors to this day.
Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister
Address: Theaterplatz 1, 01067 Dresden, Germany
Website: Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister
4. Royal Palace
Containing treasures owned by the old Saxon royalty such as swords with diamonds and emeralds, a Turkish collection of weapons and more, The Dresden Royal Palace is a Renaissance castle that housed Saxony’s kings and electors in the beginning of the late 1400s. Built with defense in mind with limited gates and massive walls, visitors can explore antiques, artwork and other unique items as well as the two courtyards attached to the palace. For centuries it was used as the seat of government for the Saxon Rulers of the Wettin family and today, visitors can find a number of museums including one of Dresden’s most famous attractions, a vast treasure chamber known as the Green Vault.
Address: Taschenberg 2, 01067 Dresden, Germany
Website: Royal Palace (Residenzschloss)
5. Grünes Gewölbe
The Grüne Gewölbe (Green Vault) is part of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections) and is among the most prominent museums in the world. Also known as the Green Vault The Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault) is one of the richest treasure chambers in Europe. More than 3 million visitors have visited it and admired the treasures it holds within two separate permanent exhibition areas. The Historisches Grünes Gewölbe contains captivating works of art in a baroque setting, with the treasures displayed on gilt consoles in front of mirrored walls while the Neues Grünes Gewölbe has around 1,000 selected masterpieces of treasury art in showcases made of antiglare glass.
Address: Residenzschloss, Taschenberg 2, 01067 Dresden, Germany
Website: Grünes Gewölbe
6. Brühl's Terrace
Nicknamed Europe’s balcony and one of the most popular places in Dresden with beautiful views of the Elbe river and stunning architecture, the terrace was originally part of ramparts built to protect the city before being transformed into a terraced garden which opened to the public in 1814. Here, you can enjoy coffee in a quiet spot in the lovely garden on the east end, grab a bratwurst from the cart on Münzgasse and watch the boats go by or take in the view of the Opera House, Cathedral, George’s Gate and Dresden Castle. A staircase flanked by four bronze sculptures (each symbolizing one season) connects the terrace with the Schlossplatz.
Address: Georg-Treu-Platz 1, 01067 Dresden, Germany
Website: Brühl’s Terrace
Displaying fine art and national treasures. The Albertinum was built on the foundations of a former armory by Karl Adolf Canzler and was completed in 1887. A center of art from the Romantic period to the present day and one of several historical buildings occupying Dresden’s famous Kultur Quartier (“Cultural District”), the museum’s Skulpturensammlung (“Sculpture Collection”) includes works from ancient Greece and Rome in addition to European carvings all the way from antiquity to the present. The collection also has Renaissance and Baroque works as well as Late Saxon wood carvings. The massive glass-fronted display storerooms here provide visitors with a look at previously hidden works as well as the internal workings of the museum.
Address: Tzschirnerpl. 2, 01067 Dresden, Germany
8. Dresden porcelain collection
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. Featuring oriental porcelain dating from the 17th and early 18th centuries and more, the Dresden collection contains traditional Chinese and Japanese 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.
Set against the Baroque backdrop of the Zwinger courtyard, here you will find works dating from the Ming Dynasty in China to Japanese Imari and Kakiemon pieces from the early 17th and the 18th century. Augustus the Strong (1670 to 1733) was passionate about porcelain and his passion resulted in this collection. Today the collection features 20,000 artifacts made of porcelain.
Dresden porcelain collection
Address: Theaterplatz 1, 01067 Dresden, Germany
Website: Dresden Porcelain Collection
9. Semper Opera House
Dresden’s Semper Opera House is the most famous opera house in Germany and is home to the Saxon State Orchestra which is among the world’s oldest and best-known orchestras. Built by the German architect Gottfried Semper in 1841 and rebuilt in 1878, The architectural style of the opera house clearly referenced the French theorists of the eighteenth century. The building launched a new theatrical type with its facade consisting of a semi-circular loggia as well as the higher auditorium articulated with Corinthian pilasters. The Semper Opera Ball held every January is also closely associated with the Opera House.
Semper Opera House
Address: Theaterplatz 2, 01067 Dresden, Germany
Website: Semper Opera House
10. Pillnitz Castle & Park
Built by Augustus the Strong and the former summer residence of the Saxon royal court is today the home of the Museum of Decorative Arts. Situated on the banks of the Elbe, the Upper Palace and Riverside Palace both offer a blend of late baroque and Chinoiserie styles while the two Asian-style palaces stand on either side of the New Palace. But the main attraction is the beautiful park with its rare trees and blend of baroque and English landscape garden styles. Pillnitz also includes an orangery, a, a Vineyard Church, “Lion’s Head” Bastion, fake Gothic ruins and a glass-walled Palm House.
Pillnitz Castle & Park
Address: August-Böckstiegel-Straße 2, 01326 Dresden, Germany
Website: Pillnitz Castle & Park
Culture along the Elbe in Dresden, Germany
Also known as “Elbflorenz” (Florence of the Elbe) and one of the most visited places in Germany, Dresden is well connected by rail to the rest of Germany and the nearby Czech Republic. Situated on both banks of the Elbe River, this spot was a UNESCO World Heritage site until June 2009. There are numerous parks and cultural monuments here along the Elbe and porcelain is something else which the city is famous for.
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