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fieryfox Dresden - A travel report by Farizan
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Dresden,  Germany - flag Germany -  Sachsen
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fieryfox's travel reports

A Brief Guide to Dresden

  22 votes
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Located in Freistadt Sachsen is the metropolitan of Dresden - a city once roamed by great kings and armies. Today it is famed for it's Baroque buildings and the relics within them. Underneath all the fine affluence of modern development lies a past that longs to be told.

(This guide is written based on my 6 months experience in Dresden in the first half 2003. I took the opportunity to learn about it’s history and became acquainted with it’s not so known nooks and corners.)

report of the month contest
Sep 2004

Altmarkt - Prager Strasse
Altmarkt - Prager Strasse

Dresden’s skyline of palace domes and church steeples on a bend in the Elbe river is one of the glories of European civilization. As it stands today, it is the result of three catastrophes. In 1685, fire ravaged the Renaissance city, and Saxony's scheming, ambitious prince Augustus the Strong (August der Starke) rebuilt it as a baroque residence for his court.

Seventy years later, the Prussians wreaked new destruction in the Seven Years' War. Again Dresden rebuilt, adding a splendid neo-Renaissance opera-house in the 19th century.

In 1945, from the night of 13 February to noon the next day, British and American fire-bombs rained down and practically razed the city centre. Books on this mass destruction can be found in any bookstore in Dresden and are in fact favourites amongst tourists.

In some excerpts of these books it is noted that Churchill's memoirs referred to "a heavy raid on Dresden, then a centre of communications of Germany's Eastern Front". But British military historian Basil Liddell Hart says "Dresden was subjected to a devastating attack - with the deliberate intention of wreaking havoc among the civil population and refugees -striking at the city centre, not the factories or railways."

The presence of countless refugees from the east made it impossible to fix the number of dead, estimated at around 35,000. Postcards showing the devastation are sold along the passages of the Altmarkt, especially along Augustusstrasse.

It is amazing to see the level of reconstruction that has taken place compared to what was left of Dresden after that fateful 13th February. The process of rebuilding must have been painful but resolute.

Just after the millennium, another disaster struck Dresden. In August, 2002 Dresden suffered what is called the “hundred year flood”. The Elbe River overflowed and caused massive damage to Dresden, especially castles and buildings located at the bank of the river. Schloss Pilnitz, for example suffered severe damage to its WasserPalais and Meissen’s passage to Albrechtsburg was completely submerged. I was told that Dresden was under water for a good 8 days before the water subsided to normal levels. Again, the process of recovering is continues. Dresden does what it does best - to strive and overcome devastation.

In 2006, the city will be 800 years old and strong. If the city's modern architecture seems uninspired and bleak, the old historic centre has recovered much of its charm. This, the cheerful spirit of the people and magnificent royal art collections, which happily escaped destruction, makes Dresden the most popular of Eastern Germany's cities.

Getting to Dresden.
Getting to Dresden is easy; if you are a tourist coming into Germany From Frankfurt or Hamburg it is possible to just take direct flights to Dresden. The following link provides very comprehensive information on ways to get to Dresden.

Favourite spots:
AltStadt - Near the Royal Palace
AltStadt - Near the Royal Palace

Favourite spots are very much a subjective question and it all boils down to what your preferred activity is. While in Dresden, apart from sightseeing you would probably want to do some shopping and spend time in the higher end and upbeat side of Dresden. Altmarkt Galerie on Dr. Külz ring's and Prager Strasse is probably the best place for shopping in the Altstadt.

Every week there will be "Sonders Angebot" (Special offers!) in the bazaars of Prager Strasse and you must drop by to get souvenirs here. If you are willing to go to Neustadt, take tram no. 13 and get down at the last stop in Mickten, cross the street and take Bus no. 91 heading to this huge shopping area called "Elbe Park" - almost every conceivable chain store can be found here!

The other favourite spot for visitors are Museums and Art Galleries. Dresden's principal art collections are kept together in the Albertinum, Brühlsche Terrasse. The building, incorporating the Renaissance arsenal, is named after Saxony's 19th-century King Albert. The space there allows only a selection to be shown from the astonishingly rich collections of the Gemäldegalerie, divided into Old Masters and 19th and 20th Century (Alte and Neue Meister).

Awaiting its relocation in the restored Royal Palace, the extravagant treasures that Augustus the Strong kept in his Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault) are also exhibited in the Albertinum. Among the gold, silver and jewellery from the 14th to 18th centuries, the prize piece is the dazzling Royal Court of Grand Mogul Aurangzeb (1708). Also, look out for the fabled Delhi court with 3,000 precious gems; diamonds, emeralds, rubies and pearls, it is a breath - taking experience to see it up close and personal.

What's really great:
The Zwinger Palace
The Zwinger Palace

With so many things to do, it is hard to narrow down the attractions to just one. I suppose the greatest thing that Dresden is famous for is its history and it's 'relics. Baroque buildings that have been destroyed and left dilapidated during the GDR times here have been restored over many years and the city hall is resolute to bring them into their prime once again.

No visit to Dresden is complete without paying a visit to the centre of the old town (AltStadt) where the oldest baroque buildings are located. Zwinger and Theaterplatz are some of the important historical monuments that must not be missed.

Zwinger Palace
Within the palace there are single-storey sandstone galleries linking two-storey pavilions around a formal French-style garden courtyard. The roofs and balustrades are embellished by the sculpture of Balthasar Permoser and the walls evoke the delicacy of Meissen porcelain.

The Long Gallery (Langgalerie) to the right of the Kronentor houses Dresden's Porcelain Museum (Porzellansammlung) with its entrance just outside on Postplatz. With its windows looking out on the rococo palace, the gallery is the perfect setting for one of the world's most important collections of Meissen, Japanese and Chinese porcelain. The best of the Meissen sculptural pieces are by the 18th-century master, Johann Joachim Kändler--harlequins, monkeys, lions and a monumental equestrian statue.

The galleries of the Zwinger's east wing curve inward to clasp the grand Glockenspielpavillon named after Kändler's porcelain carillon (which you can see in the Porcelain Museum). Opposite, with Balthasar Permoser's Nymphenbad fountain beyond the north-west gallery, the Wallpavillon houses a museum of mathematical and scientific instruments. More romantically, summer concerts (Zwingerserenaden) are held in its garden.

The square forms a handsome architectural ensemble around the proud equestrian statue of King Johann of Saxony. Behind him is stately opera-house, better known as the Semperoper which was fully restored in 1985. In the neo-Renaissance style the opera-house makes an impact of sober elegance amid Dresden's predominantly baroque and rococo monuments. The statues on the façade portray Shakespeare beneath Sophocles, and Molière beneath Euripides.

The Royal Palace (Residenzschloss) remains a bombed-out shell but on the Augustusstrasse, take notice of the 19th-century Princes' Procession (Fürstenzug), a frieze of 25,000 pieces of painted Meissen porcelain depicting 35 Saxon princes, artists and scientists on the façade of the Langer Gang (1591). Along its inner side, this long Renaissance wing leading to the royal stables (Stallhof) has a splendid Tuscan-style arcade.

Neumarkt and the Elbe
On Neumarkt square is the ruin of the baroque Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), once considered by many to be the most beautiful Protestant church in Germany. Today, it is undergoing massive reconstruction from just two gutted window bays standing in a mound of rubble and shrubbery, is almost fully restored and is due for opening in 2006 when Dresden celebrates its 800th hundred year jubilee.

From the ruins of the Frauenkirche, stroll over to the river for a walk in the 18th-century gardens of the Brühlsche Terrasse. Among the sculpture is Dresden's oldest surviving statue, the Moritz monument (1553), showing the fallen prince Moritz of Saxony handing his sword to his brother. Weisse Flotte river cruises start down on the quay below the terrace. For a fee of 25 Euros, you can take a ferry down to Meissen and back.

Entrance to the Albertinum, presently housing the city's main museums, is from the Brühlsche gardens.

Fountains of Albertplatz
Fountains of Albertplatz

The first attraction that comes to my mind is the Grosse Garten (the largest and oldest lake gardens in Dresden) with a lake and a castle in the middle of it and also adjoining the Dresden Zoo. Stroll, cycle or rollerblade and spend a day on a picnic under these beautiful trees and landscaped gardens. Take note of several monuments and gothic status in between the shrubs and trails.

Next is the fountains of Albertplatz in Neustadt. Beautiful gothic statues and sculptures from the 17th century are blended into the fountain and there are two of them opposite each other. Also when in Neustadt, don't miss the baroque statue of the Golden Rider (essentially representing King Augustus the Great) just next to the Albertbrücke (Alberts Bridge).

Also, you can look these up on the map, The Yenidze (a factory in the shape of a mosque built in the early 1900s), the Frauenkirche, Zwinger and other baroque buildings in Altstadt.

The clock tower
The clock tower

I would recommend the IBIS Hotel Lilienstein if you are planning to spend time in the city for shopping and sightseeing in old museums and art galleries. This hotel is located in the city centre of AltStadt on Prager Strasse and is strategically situated in the central business district, next to famous shopping complexes, such as Karstadt and just 5 minutes walk from Altmarkt Galarie. In fact, Prager Strasse is a padestrian lane with shops and bazaars on both sides of the road. The hotel is also just 5 minutes walk from the Hauptbahnof (Main Train station) into Dresden and about 20 minutes walk from Grosse Garten - the oldest and largest lake gardens in Dresden. Generally, Ibis Hotel has about 300 over rooms with climate-control with rates beginning from 55 Euros. It has a bar within and a small restaurant. There’s ample parking outside of the hotel.

If you plan to spend time in suburbs of Dresden, with a view to do some sports or hiking activity then the Airport Hotel Dresden is the perfect place to stay. For starters, the hotel is located just 1km from the Airport and there is public transportation (buses and S-bahn (trams)) just outside the hotel. You could get around easily to any direction. The hotel is near to Altstadt (about 7km but you can take the tram), tennis courts and horseback riding ranch and golf courses. Schloss Moritzburg and Meissens Porceilien Factory is 15km away and the Sächsische Schweiz National Park is about 30km away.

Address :
Prager Strasse
Tel : (+49)351/48566663
Fax : (+49)351/48567777

A Carribbean Club
A Carribbean Club

Clubs are common in all parts of Dresden but I personally prefer something more exotic, typically Latin American dance clubs. My favourite hangout is EL PARAISO, a Caribbean pub with live concerts and a dance floor. It’s located in NEUSTADT on Louisenstraße 96. To get there from anywhere in Dresden is to take Tram No. 13 heading to Mickten and get down at the Rothenburger Str. stop. When you arrive, don’t forget to try the authentic Cuban Caipiriña or otherwise your favourite brand of beer and dance the salsa.

Louisenstraße 96, 01099 Dresden
Tel. 0351/802 0772, Fax -269 0954

Princes Procession - made of 24,000 pieces of Porcelain
Princes Procession - made of 24,000 pieces of Porcelain

A very nice pub/restaurant is Las Tapas, also located in Altmarkt but closer to the Elbe River. They have a fantastic selection of beers (in tall glasses that can be mistaken as spaghetti jars!) and other Spanish delights. Definitely worth a stop, if you intend to take a walk down Elbe under the moonlight!

Las Tapas Spanisches Flair
Münzgasse 4
01067 Dresden
Tel:0351 4960108
Fax:0351 4960109


If you like authentic Spanish steaks, then the place you must visit is the Restaurant Maredo-Standort in Dresden. The restaurant is very popular for its succulent steaks and delicious Spanish wine. A meal would cost in the range of 15 - 20 Euros per person which is not too bad. They have multi-lingual menus and the waitresses mostly speak English. In terms of location, it is located on Dr. Külz Ring next to the Altmarkt Galarie. You can get here by taking S-Bahn (trams) number 10 or 11, or walk from the Hauptbahnhof through Prager Strasse.

Restaurant Maredo-Standort in Dresden
01067 Dresden
Dr.-Külz-Ring 9
Tel.: 03 51 / 4 95 60 83
Fax: 03 51 / 4 95 50 84

Other recommendations:

There are a tonne of things that you can do when in Dresden and really you are spoilt for choice. Take your pick amongst the famous attractions and sights that I've mentioned above. In addition, you should note these other places that are accessible from Dresden, namely; Bastei (a historical bridge linking sandstone mountains and a spectacular view of the Elbe River), Königstein (A 16th Century Fortress), Bad Schandau (Sächsische Schweiz) National Park, Pilnitz and Moritzburg (famed for their Castles - see my report on Pilnitz and Moritzburg) and also the Elbe Cruise featuring the "Wein Weg" (Vineyard cruise along Elbe river).

Published on Wednesday October 13th, 2004

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Thu, May 18 2006 - 04:00 AM rating by esfahani

I was born in Sachsen, but not exactly in Dresden... its an outstanding report

Sun, Dec 18 2005 - 12:49 PM rating by jorgesanchez

very good report

Mon, Jan 17 2005 - 01:11 PM rating by davidx

This is terrific. I thought I wanted to see Dresden. Now I know.

Tue, Nov 16 2004 - 03:04 PM rating by binmke

Farizan - this is a fantastic report, very detailed and well-written. I would love to get your advice on how to format the text better, as I had some difficulties with this when I publish my reports.

Thanks for sharing your experiences about Dresden!!

Thu, Oct 14 2004 - 02:31 PM rating by picasso

Unbelievably interesting, well-written report with tons of information
Farizan-well done, and my ***** to you!


Thu, Oct 14 2004 - 11:57 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

hi fari,
well it took me long time to read ur report ,i never new that u r such great writer.
i am very happy to read this report adn it is so well written that i cant describe in words.amount of information you have collected and remember is fantastic.

Thu, Oct 14 2004 - 01:25 AM rating by marianne

well written, with all necessary information. A pleasure to read.

Wed, Oct 13 2004 - 12:30 PM rating by spaceout

Wow.. I'm impressed by all the information and details.. Dresden is now on my list of places to see.. among too many other.. I'll have to live 3 lives to see all I want to see.. HAHHAH.. travel safely.. VK

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