Most people in Britain will know Dresden best for being one of the cities which took the brunt of allied bombing towards the end of World War Two. Whilst the continuous air raids and the subsequent firestorm tore through some of the German city’s most important buildings, many of which lay in ruin for a long time after the war had finished, meticulous work has been carried out to restore them to their former glory.
Today, the capital of Saxony is most certainly a city of two halves. A juxtaposition of new and old sit comfortably beside each other, with the Aldstadt displaying the fantastically redesigned buildings of the past and the Neustadt being home to a mixture of Baroque masterpieces that escaped destruction and more modern buildings adorned with creative street art.
Here are some great architectural wonders to seek out on your trip to Dresden.
There are many museums in Dresden housed in beautiful buildings, meaning it’s difficult to single one out specifically. When it comes to sheer architectural brilliance, though, the Zwinger probably leads the way. This stunning Rococo-style palace is a former orangery and festival arena that was almost completely destroyed in the war. Reconstructed and now a museum complex, it is home to the Old Masters Picture Gallery, the Dresden Porcelain Collection and the Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments.
Other museums that are works of art in themselves include the Albertinum (housing the museum of modern art) and Dresden Castle (home to the Dresden State Art Collections). Incidentally, if you do want to visit some of the museums on your Dresden city break, it might be a good idea to purchase a Dresden City and Museum Card, granting you free admission to a wide range of attractions and complimentary public transport.
In the centre of Dresden, lies an unmistakable landmark that was left in ruin for many years following the war. This was the case until the 1990s when restoration began on the Frauenkirche – a process that was completed in 2004. So, today, the church stands as proudly as it did in 1743 when it was first finished. The inside is as beautiful as the external structure, with the altar, font and pulpit placed in a central position for all to see. Visitors can climb to the top of the dome for fantastic views over the River Elbe and the rest of the city.
Proving that Dresden’s striking architecture is not just restricted to buildings, the Furstenzug is an exquisite mural on the external wall of the castle stables. Originally painted directly onto the wall, the artwork is now made from porcelain in order to preserve it from adverse weather conditions. At more than 100 metres long, it is considered the largest porcelain mural in the world and depicts members of the royal house of Wettin. The Procession of Princes, to give its English name, features members of this royal dynasty on horseback and on foot, flowing from Conrad, Margrave of Meissen (who ruled until 1156) to King George of Saxony (who reigned for just two years from 1902 to 1904).
A visit to Schloss Mortizburg involves taking a trip out of the city, but it is a great journey to make if you’re planning a two or three-day Dresden city break. There are two ways to get to this charming castle, the easiest of which involves taking the 326 bus from Dresden Neustadt to Moritzburg Schloss – a journey that lasts roughly half an hour. Or, for a more nostalgic approach, you can take the S-Bahn (S1) from Dresden Central Station to Radebeul Ost and then climb aboard the historic Lößnitzgrundbahn steam railway until you reach Moritzburg. Either way, you will arrive at a picturesque lake, which is home to this former hunting lodge – the brainchild of Augustus the Strong. Visitors can tour some of the 200 rooms inside the castle (including the famous Feather Room), as well as the well-preened gardens and the only lighthouse in Saxony.
Back in the city centre, the Pfunds Molkerei is a great example of why not to judge a book by its cover. This rather unassuming milk shop sells cheese and other milk-related products but receives just as many visitors for its elaborate décor as it does for its delicious dairy delights. Showcasing Saxon extravagance at its very best, the shop features hundreds of hand-painted Villeroy & Boch tiles that cover the floor, ceiling and even the counter top. There is also a restaurant upstairs where you can indulge in some cheese and wine tasting, but even those who are lactose intolerant will be able to appreciate the beauty of a shop that has become a key feature of life in Dresden.
As you can see, there are many architectural wonders to enjoy on a trip to Dresden and many other attractions besides. If you would like to plan a visit as part of a holiday in Saxony, our team can help you build this fantastic city into your itinerary.