Dresden's location amidst natural beauty is self-evident, but it was the creative drive and love of art of the Saxony Electors and later the city's inhabitants that gave Dresden its unique cultural landscape.
This is reflected in such famous buildings as Zwinger Palace, the Church of Our Lady, the Residenz Palace, the Semper Opera House and Brühl Terrace in the historical old quarter, as well as the Elbe palaces in Loschwitz, the exclusive villas of Blasewitz, and Hellerau garden city. Today, this tradition continues with award-winning modern architecture. The twelve museums of the Dresden State Art Collections form the basis of the city's reputation as an international centre of arts and culture. They are, however, only part of a varied and acclaimed museum scene that includes the masterpieces of the Alte Meister gallery, the treasures of the Green Vault, and one of the world's most extensive collections of porcelain, as well as the 19th and 20th century works on display at the Albertinum museum. Dresden also boasts a long musical heritage, along with leisure activities and entertainment for the modern day.
The garden city of Hellerau was established in 1909 together with the Hellerau furniture workshops. Built to plans by Richard Riemerschmid, the development combines a modern garden city settlement with a manufacturing facility that offered exemplary working conditions for its time.read more »
Set within the picturesque Elbe landscape, the summer residence of the royal court of Saxony blends architecture with landscape design to exceptional effect. The Riverside Palace and Upper Palace were built in the early 18th century and reflect the period's fashion for oriental design.read more »
For more than 100 years, the two mountain railways have formed part of the picture-perfect scenery of the Loschwitz hillside above the river Elbe. The world's oldest ascending suspension railway, which climbs 84 metres from Loschwitz to Oberloschwitz, was constructed in 1901.read more »
The three Elbe palaces, perched on the Loschwitz hillside high above the river, afford a magnificent view out over Dresden. Albrechtsberg Palace was built for Prince Albrecht of Prussia, inspired by the style of a Tuscan villa.read more »
The world's oldest and largest fleet of paddle steamers is a technical monument to pleasure. As they journey between Seusslitz near Meissen and Bad Schandau in the Elbe Sandstone Massif, the ships of the Sächsische Dampfschiffahrt fleet pass through some of Europe's most picturesque river scenery.read more »
Where Louisenstrasse meets Alaunstrasse lies a district originating entirely from the Gründerzeit era with its own distinctive charm. Outer Neustadt is made all the more alluring by the juxtaposition of old and restored buildings, narrow streets and labyrinthine courtyards concealing bars, restaurants and shops (from the sophisticated to the outlandish).read more »
The settlement on the north bank of the River Elbe originally went by the name of 'Altendresden' (old Dresden). The area was a granted a town charter back in 1403, but always remained in the shadows of the Royal Palace across the river.read more »
First documented in 1434, the Striezelmarkt is Germany's oldest Christmas market. It is inextricably linked with its namesake, Dresden's Christstollen cake, also known as striezel.read more »
The Semper Opera Ball has grown to become the foremost ball in Germany. Opera stars and internationally acclaimed pop musicians make regular guest appearances at the event and young debutante couples captivate onlookers with a ten-minute choreographed routine.read more »
The Saxon capital is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The city centre consists mainly of Baroque-style buildings. However, a magnificent Gründerzeit district and modern buildings by renowned contemporary architects also shape its distinctive and charismatic face.
Dresden is continuously evolving, with the Old Town being a perfect example. The historic districts around the Neumarkt area have been reconstructed according to the historic model, with work still ongoing. Most notably including the "Frauenkirche" church, one of the city's world-famous landmarks and a pearl of baroque architecture.
Dresden's architecture is not just about Baroque. Extensive elegant residential areas delight architecture enthusiasts, while carefully restored Gründerzeit districts form the core of Dresden's urban cityscape. Everywhere you go in Dresden, you can find a charming symbiosis of old and new. One example is the new domed glass roof of the "Kleiner Schlosshof" (small inner courtyard) in the "Residenzschloss" (Dresden Royal Palace). Not forgetting the Albertinum, home to an important art museum and a new flood-proof storeroom. The 12-metre high structure appears to "float" above the building's atrium. Or the "Kraftwerk Mitte" – a former power station that now generates culture instead of electricity.
As well as buildings such as the "Gläserne Manufaktur" (Transparent Factory) and the "Festspielhaus Hellerau" (Hellerau Festival Theatre), the "Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr" (Bundeswehr Military History Museum) is another example of outstanding architecture. Star architect Daniel Libeskind designed the renovation of this historic arsenal. A new wedge-shaped construction cleaves the monumental building. This incision into the museum's design represents a link to theoretical references and provides an amazing viewing platform from which to admire Dresden's dazzling new beauty.
Dresden has many faces – and the most youthful, multicultural and liveliest of these can be found on the right-hand side of the River Elbe, in the trendy district of Neustadt. Boasting the densest concentration of bars and clubs in Germany, it is simply brimming with restaurants, bars, clubs and fashionable shops.
The artistically designed courtyards in the Kunsthofpassage are home to little boutiques selling art and crafts as well as welcoming cafes and restaurants. Not far from here, you can find daily live music and a wide selection of whiskies in the "Blue Note" jazz bar. Dresden's vibrant nightlife can also be experienced in the area around the Scheune youth club with its beer garden and Indian food.
Travel guides describe all the other "must-see" aspects of Dresden, but the best way to decide what you need to make time for is to take a typical Dresden approach: leisurely, open-minded and completely relaxed. Perhaps in the city's many galleries and theatres, in the "Festspielhaus Hellerau" festival theatre, a meeting place for the avant-garde of contemporary art, at festivals, in record shops, alternative spaces and concert clubs. Or in the "Großer Garten" (Great Garden) and along the Elbe Meadows, meeting places and sport and relaxation areas for Dresden's citizens. They are ideal places for a quick break or to spend a whole balmy summer evening in the heart of the city and with a view of beautiful architecture.
What makes shopping in Dresden such a pleasure? It must be something to do with the city's history, with its sense of distinction and quality, its fine products and brands underpinned by centuries of tradition.
Established in 1434, Dresden's "Striezelmarkt" is one of the city's best-known markets and possibly boasts the longest tradition. It is one of Germany's largest and most beautiful Christmas markets.
In days gone by, Saxon rulers purchased valuable items from all over the world to fill their collections and museums, from porcelain to weapons, fine robes, paintings and goldwork. Over time, they arranged for these fine wares to be made locally.
One milestone in this process was the establishment of Europe's first porcelain production site in Meißen in 1710. Crowned heads and wealthy citizens from Europe and all over the world then travelled to Dresden to purchase luxury goods, a tradition that continues today - the Meißen porcelain factory still stands for premium top-quality craftsmanship. Dresden's jewellery designers and jewellers are perpetuating the tradition and artistry of the city's famous goldsmiths. The premium timepieces made in nearby Glashütte enjoy a worldwide reputation. From Meissen to Lange & Söhne, Juwelier Leicht, Glashütte Original and more, all these Saxon brands have their flagship stores in Dresden.
Dresden's extremely diverse shopping attractions include specialities such as wines from the hills around the River Elbe, regional designer fashion and everything the city's large shopping malls or small and attractive boutiques have to offer. Many hotels also provide pure luxury in every conceivable incarnation; from boutique hotels to grand hotels and designer hotels, there is something for every taste.
Exploring art and culture is hungry and thirsty work. Luckily Dresden offers a wide array of culinary pleasures in addition to intellectual pursuits. What will it be? Gourmet cuisine or street food? Savoury or sweet? Traditional Saxon fare or exotic cuisine?
Whatever your taste, Dresden has a lot to offer. The city has even lent its name to a classic German Christmas pastry. The popularity of "Dresdner Christstollen" has extended beyond the Elbe region to the entire world. All year round, you can enjoy "Quarkkeulchen" (pancakes with Quark cheese) and "Eierschecke" cake. Each baker has his or her own closely guarded secret recipe for these culinary specialities – as well as for Stollen.
And every chef no doubt has a favourite recipe for Saxon "Sauerbraten" marinated beef. In Dresden, it features on the menus of gourmet restaurants as well as in down-to-earth hostelries and venues serving modern, innovative cuisine. Farmers producing within the urban area or nearby provide fresh and often organically grown ingredients. Continuous new interpretations are keeping Dresden's culinary traditions alive.
And what would you like to drink? Dresden is home to several breweries and is the most northerly city in the world to be situated in an official wine-growing area. The city's brewers and wine-growers will be happy to let you take a look over their shoulder as they work. Fine liqueurs made from local fruit are another tempting treat.
… starting from the very beginning. One example is the Dresden Transport Museum, featuring exhibitions devoted to every conceivable technical and social aspect of human transportation.
As well as permanent exhibitions on road transport, railways, shipping and air traffic, visitors can also explore projects covering topics such as "engine bonnet art" or migration movements. Another attraction is the Transport Museum's location in the "Johanneum". This listed Renaissance building has been connected to transportation since its creation in 1586, when two halls on its ground floor provided enough space for carriages, coaches and 128 horses.
In Dresden, we like to think ahead, and this art has been perfected by the renowned "Friedrich List" Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences at the TU Dresden, where the mobility concepts of the future are conceived, researched and tested. The automobile driving simulator and the EcoTrain are just two examples. The future of the automobile is also the focus in the "Gläserne Manufaktur" (The Transparent Factory) in Dresden. Volkswagen has converted the former production site for its "Phaeton" car into a showcase for its electromobility and digitalisation concepts. Visitors have the chance to try out some environmentally-friendly electric cars on a test circuit.
At the other end of the spectrum, visitors to the city can also enjoy a fun experience in a two-stroke car. A tour of Dresden in a "Trabant", the little car that is such an integral part of Saxony's technical history, is a must for car lovers. "Trabi safaris" rattle through the city, naturally following the most scenic routes, passing many of Dresden's main sights.