Dresden – guide and sights
Dresden is a city of magnificent monuments, full of museums and galleries. It is an interesting tourist destination, both for travellers and native Germans. The main points of interest for people coming to Dresden, are:
- Sights – Dresden was extensively bombed during World War II, but several architectural treasures survived the bombing and others were repaired or even rebuilt after the war
- Christmas Markets – these are famous and among the largest in Central Europe. They are held regularly during Advent
- Museums and Galleries – as the museums and galleries regularly change their exhibitions, tourists will find something new to see on every visit
- Shopping – there is a wide variety of shops and shopping malls with a huge selection.
Dresden is the second largest city in Saxony (population of about half a million inhabitants).
History of Dresden
The first mention of Dresden is as a fishing village and later as a commercial crossroads on the Elbe River in the mid 12th century. The city as we know it was founded in the 13th century by the Saxons.
One of the most important periods for Dresden was during the life of Fridrich August I (called “August the Strong”), who lived from 1670 to 1733. The monarch, who later became the king of Poland, made Dresden the cultural center of Germany.
One very drastic event that contributed to the history of Dresden was the bombing in 1945, when a fire broke out as a result of the bombing, which caused approximately 25 000 casualties and practically the whole town was destroyed.
Many sights were built by Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann, who was the court architect of August the Strong in Dresden. Among the most interesting of his works include the Zwinger (a system of Baroque buildings that were part of the original fortifications and now serve as the museum’s collection). Other works of the architect include the Japanese Palace, the Royal Street, the Taschenbergpalais and August’s Bridge (which was a model of Prague’s Charles Bridge). Pöppelmann had the “luck” in his life that half of Dresden was burned down and August the Strong decided to build what was essentially a new district called the New Royal City. It is located across the river over August’s bridge. On the opposite side of the river there is the older part of Dresden: “the old town”.
The old town is rich in monuments and you will find some unique structures, such as the Brühl terrace – a remnant of the original fortifications and a museum fortification. Right next door is the Albertinum, the Academy of art. The Brühl Terrace ends at August’s Bridge and you will find yourself next to some very interesting buildings: The Estates House, the Cathedral, the Georgentor, the Residential palace and the Semper Opera.
The most interesting sight in Dresden is Frauenkirche church that was entirely rebuilt after the war.
Other places of interest
If you come with children, we recommend a visit to Dresden Zoo. Just outside the city in the direction to the Berlin is the Tropical Island – a hall with a tropical island.
There are several castles close to Dresden, the most famous is certainly the Pillnitz.
Accommodation in Dresden
Dresden offers a number of hotels and guesthouses. We recommend that you use Booking.com. Personally, we recommend the IBIS hotel in the city centre, on the famous Prager Strasse (famous shopping street). It is close to the main train station, and it is just a short walk from the centre.
Shopping and Christmas markets
Dresden has a well-deserved reputation as a shopping centre and a lot of tourists come here just for that purpose. Here you will find many shopping centres with a huge selection of brands and sizes. If you arrive by train or bus, I recommend some of the shopping malls in the city centre, such as The Altmarkt Galerie, Prager Strasse and the Centrum Galerie. If you arrive by car, it is worth visiting one of the large shopping centres outside of Dresden: the Kaufpark or the Elberpark.
The Christmas markets have been covered separately on their own page.