Last updated: 01/11/2019
Dresden is a German city full of history, bombed during the Second World War. Rebuilt, the city is home to incredible cultural riches.
THE CITY OF DRESDEN
Situated on the banks of the River Elbe, Dresden is a beautiful city with a long history as the capital and royal residence for the Kings of Saxony for several centuries. Considered the “Jewel of the Elbe”, Dresden stood out for the architecture of its buildings in Baroque and Rococo style. In the 20th century, Dresden was a communications center and an industrial center with many factories and workshops. During World War II, the city was designated by the German military command as a defensive strongpoint to prevent the Soviet advance. As the capital of the German state of Saxony, Dresden not only had garrisons, but an entire military city.
The city was attacked 7 times in the final years of the war. In 1945, a controversial bombing by the British and American governments in an attempt to weaken Nazi forces, killed thousands of civilians and completely destroyed the entire historic center of the city. After World War II, Dresden became an important industrial center in the German Democratic Republic (formerly East Germany) with a considerable research infrastructure. Many important historic buildings have been reconstructed.
CURIOSITY: NO LONGER A UNESCO HERITAGE
The city had its cultural importance recognized by UNESCO, with the Elbe Valley that crosses Dresden declared a World Heritage Site in 2004. From the river, it is possible to see the historic center of the city, with an emphasis on the Semper Opera, the Frauenkirche church and the baroque buildings. from Zwinger. However, this part of the city lost Heritage status in 2009. This happened due to the construction of an 18 km bridge connecting the banks of the River Elbe. This fact was considered a violation by UNESCO, which decided to revoke the status of Heritage. The venue became the first in Europe to lose the title and the second in the world. The Waldschlößchenbrücke, the bridge that was the reason for the discord, is still standing today.
WHAT TO DO IN DRESDEN
The main attractions are located in the historic center of the city, which is easily accessible on foot. As we said before, we took the train and disembarked at the city's central station. A 10-15 minute walk is enough to get to the center. Our suggestion in this post is to visit the city in 1 or 2 days. In 1 day it is possible to visit the main attractions in the city center (blue color on the map below). In the second, we recommend visiting areas that are a little further away and that complement the visit to the city (green color on the map below). In red, are suggestions for restaurants and shopping.
Residenzschloss, also known as Dresden Castle or Dresden Royal Palace, is one of the oldest buildings in the city. For nearly 400 years the building housed Dukes and Kings of Saxony from the house of Wettin. One of its features is the mix of architectural styles ranging from Baroque to Neo-Renaissance. Currently, the palace houses an incredible museum complex:
- Grunes Gewölbe: A unique historical museum that contains the largest collection of treasures in Europe, with a rich variety of exhibits from baroque to classicism. includes the Historisches Grünes Gewölbe it's the Neues Grünes Gewölbe.
- Munzkabinett: O Dresden's oldest museum, founded in 1530, has the third largest numismatic collection (coins and medals) in Germany with around 300,000 objects.
- Kupferstich-Kabinett: This museum of figures, drawings and photographs has an incredible collection of approximately 500,000 items, but only a portion is on display. The most renowned artists in the collection include Albrecht Dürer, Jan van Eyck, Francisco de Goya, Hans Holbein, Michelangelo , Rembrandt and Rubens.
- Rüstkammer: In this museum is one of the world's largest collections of ceremonial weapons, armor and historical textiles. The current exhibition comprises around 1,300 artifacts, representing less than 10% of the entire collection. The “Turkish Chamber” is part of this museum, which displays more than 600 individual pieces of art. The largest piece in the collection is a three-masted tent brought from the camp at Zeithain in 1730.
- Address: Taschenberg 2, 01067 Dresden, Germany
- Schedules: Wednesday to Monday 10am to 6pm / closed on Tuesdays
- Ticket Residenzschloss (includes all museums except Historisches Grünes Gewölbe): 12 euros
- Ticket for all museums (includes the Historisches Grünes Gewölbe): 21 euros
- Only for Historisches Grünes Gewölbe: 12 euros
- For Kupferstich-Kabinett only: 6 euros
- Photographs: photos of the museum collection are not allowed, only outdoor areas
The “Theater Square” is one of the most important squares in Dresden. There are located important city landmarks such as the Hofkirche, the Semper Opera and the Zwinger Palace. In the center of the square is a statue of King Johann, mounted on a horse.
The Hofkirche is Dresden Cathedral. It is an important Catholic church in the city, also known as the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Built between 1738 and 1751 at the request of King Augustus III of Poland, it is the largest church in Saxony. The church was heavily damaged during World War II and was rebuilt in the mid-1980s.
- Address: Schloßstraße 24, 01067 Dresden, Germany
- Schedules: Monday to Thursday 9am to 5pm / Friday 1pm to 5pm / Saturday 10am to 5pm / Sunday 12pm to 4pm
- Entrance: free
Semperoper is the most famous opera house in Germany, home to one of the oldest and most famous orchestras in the world, the Sächsischen Staatskapelle. The building was built between 1838 and 1841. It was destroyed during the Second World War and only reopened 40 years later, in 1985. It is not necessary to attend a show to get to know it, as guided tours are offered.
- Address: Theaterplatz 2, 01067 Dresden, Germany
- Tour: hours vary depending on the day (see here) / 11 euros
Zwinger is a palace built in Rococo style. The site was formerly part of the Dresden fortress, which retains the outer walls. Currently, the palace houses a series of museums that include: the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Gallery), the Dresdener Porzellansammlung (Dresden Porcelain Collection) and the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon (Royal Hall of Mathematics and Physical Instruments). If you don't have time to visit the museums, this is not a problem. The complex's gardens are beautiful and admission is free.
- Address: Sophienstraße, 01067 Dresden, Germany
- Schedules: daily from November to March from 6 am to 8 pm / from April to October from 6 am to 10 pm /
- Entrance: free for the gardens / 6 euros for any of the 3 museums / 10 euros combined entry for the 3 museums / 2 euros reservation fee online
- Gala concert: see information in this link
Fürstenzug (Procession of the Princes in English) is a huge mural of a horse procession of Saxony's rulers. It was originally painted between the years 1871 and 1876 to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Wettin dynasty, Saxony's ruling family. The panel was later replaced by 23,000 porcelain tablets between 1904 and 1907. The 102-meter-long mural depicts 35 noble ancestors of the Dukes and Kings of the House of Wettin between 1127 and 1904.
- Address: Augustusstrasse, 01067 Dresden, Germany
Neumarkt is the “New Market Square”. It is here that the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady that we will talk about in the next topic) is located. It is called “new” because it was built in the 16th century, two centuries after the “old” square (Altmarkt). After a series of damage during the Seven Years' War (1754-1763), several structures at Neumarkt were rebuilt in Rococo and late Baroque styles. A fire caused by the bombing in 1945 practically destroyed the square. It was rebuilt in the Post-War period.
The Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) is one of the most important Lutheran churches in the city and one of the postcards of Dresden. The building was initially built as a Catholic church. The church is considered an excellent example of Protestant sacred architecture, with one of the largest domes in Europe. The church was built in the 18th century and completely destroyed during the 1945 bombing. The remaining ruins were left for 50 years as a war memorial. The church was rebuilt, starting in 1994, after the reunification of Germany. The reconstruction of its exterior was completed in 2004 and of the interior in 2005. It is possible to go up to its dome.
- Address: Neumarkt, 01067 Dresden, Germany
- Schedules: Monday to Friday 10am to 12pm and 1pm to 6pm / hours vary on weekends
- Entrance: free / take a tour with an expert guide by clicking here
- Ascent to the dome:
- Price: 8 euros – buy tickets here
- November to February: Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 16:00 / Sunday from 12:30 to 16:00
- March to June and September to October: Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 18:00 / Sunday from 12:30 to 18:00
- July to August: Monday to Thursday from 10 am to 6 pm / Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm / Sunday from 12:30 pm to 6 pm
9. BRÜHL'S TERRACE
This terrace on the edge of Lake Elbe is one of the most beautiful places in the city, frequented by locals and tourists alike. Its nickname is “Balcão da Europa”, for providing beautiful views. We highly recommend taking a walk through the back of several historic buildings on one side and the grandeur of the River Elbe on the other. Sit on one of the benches and enjoy the view!
The old market square is the heart of the historic centre. Built in the 14th century, it is the oldest square in Dresden. Around 1550 for a first expansion of the city, a new market was created, the Neumarkt. When we were visiting the city, the Altmarkt was beautiful, full of decorated stalls selling typical foods during the autumn festival. We ate typical food and a fantastic Nutella crepe!
The Kreuzkirche is a Lutheran church built in the Baroque style between 1764 and 1800. Previously, there was a Gothic church built in the 15th century on the site. It was badly damaged during the bombing of World War II and, to remember the event, it has been partially restored. The church is famous for being home to the Dresdner Kreuzchor choir, which has been around for over 700 years. Its tower is 92 meters high and the observation platform is 54 meters from the ground.
- Address: An der Kreuzkirche 6, 01067 Dresden, Germany
- Schedules: vary by time of year - see here
- Entrance: free / 4 euros to climb the Tower
12. NEW CITY HALL OF DRESDEN
Dresden City Hall is housed in a beautiful Renaissance-style building that features a 300-foot tall dark tower with a clock. It had to be rebuilt after World War II. There are two bronze lion sculptures in front of the golden gates. On the dome is a 5 meter tall statue of Hercules. There is a 68-meter observation deck under the dome that provides beautiful views of the historic city center. More information in this website.
- Address: Neues Rathaus, Kreuzstraße 6, 01067 Dresden, Germany
- Observation platform: open daily from May to October from 10 am to 6 pm
The Albertinum is a modern art museum founded in 1887. The name is a tribute to an ancient Saxon King named Albert. The museum was heavily damaged during the bombing of the Second World War and underwent a restoration process starting in 1953. The museum has an impressive collection of sculptures and around 300 paintings from the 19th century that include great names such as Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet.
- Address: Tzschirnerpl. 2, 01067 Dresden, Germany
- Schedules: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm
- Entrance: 10 euros / audio guide included
The “Transparent Factory” is the name of the Volkswagen production plant known as “Die Gläserner Manufaktur”, in German, which can be literally translated as “Glass Manufacture”. The name is due to the fact that most of the factory has transparent glass walls, so you can see practically everything! Volkswagen offers guided tours of the factory, explaining how luxury cars are produced on site. We love the experience! Unfortunately, taking pictures is prohibited during the factory tour.
- Address: Lennéstraße 1, 01069 Dresden, Germany
- Schedules: Visitors area: Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 6 pm / Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm
- Tours: in English: Monday to Friday at 10 am, 12 pm, 3 pm / Saturday at 12 pm, 3 pm and 5 pm / Sunday at 3 pm / Duration: 75 minutes / Price: 7 euros – buy online here
15. GROẞER GARTEN
This is a beautiful public park in the city, built in a baroque style in a rectangular shape. It covers an area of 1.8 km². It dates from 1676, but became open to the public in 1814. Inside the park there are two main attractions: the Dresden Zoo it's the Dresden Botanical Garden. A mini train, known as Dresdner Parkeisenbahn, takes visitors through the park and operates during the summer months.
- Address: Hauptallee 10, 01219 Dresden, Germany
ECONOMY TIP: DRESDEN CITY CARD
Enjoy the many benefits of Dresden City Card to save money and enjoy 1, 2 or 3 days full of cultural activities and fun. This card offers a series of discounts on cultural and leisure activities, such as concerts or dining in restaurants. In addition, the card gives free access to the city's public transport, including buses, trams and trains. There are versions for 1, 2 or 3 days in the city.
NICE TOURS AND EXCURSIONS IN DRESDEN
- Dresden: Walking Tour and Panometer
- Gala Concert at Dresden Zwinger: Dresden
- Dresden Walking Tour of the Historic Old Town
- dresden old town walking tour
- Dresden Combo: Semper Opera and Old Town Tour
- Minibus Tour of Dresden for Small Groups
- Dresden: Historic Tour in Florence on the Elbe
- One and a half hour central Dresden boat tour
- Dresden: Elbe River Cruise to Pillnitz Castle
- Dresden Mural Tour: Street Art and Paintings
- Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland National Park Day Trip from Dresden
WHERE TO EAT IN DRESDEN
When we were in Dresden, we enjoyed a beautiful and delicious fair of typical food that was happening at the Altemarkt. In addition, we also suggest these other locations:
- Viba Erlebnis-Confiserie & Café (Altmarkt 25, 01067)
- L'Osteria Dresden (Wilsdruffer Str. 14-16, 01067)
- Kurfürstenschänke – Historisches Gasthaus (An der Frauenkirche 13, 01067)
- Kutscherschänke – Uriges Wirtshaus (Münzgasse 10, 01067)
- pulverturm (An der Frauenkirche 12, 01067)
WHERE TO BUY IN DRESDEN
Two suggestions in the center of Dresden with many shopping options:
- Altmarkt-Galerie Dresden (Webergasse 1, 01067 Dresden, Germany)
- Centrum Galerie (Prager Str. 15 – 17, 01069 Dresden, Germany)
WHERE TO STAY IN DRESDEN
Check out some of the accommodation options in Dresden. These are well-located and well-rated hotels in the city.
- Swissôtel Dresden Am Schloss (4 stars)
- Hilton Dresden (4 stars)
- Star Inn Hotel Premium Dresden im Haus Altmarkt, by Quality (3 stars)
- ibis budget Dresden City (1 star)
BOOK NOW your hotel and save more than 35%. Travelers readers are with a SUPER DISCOUNT! And the best, with FREE CANCELLATION*!
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