More than 800 years of vibrant urban history wherever you look. Culture and fine living at every turn. World-famous attractions such as the Church of our Lady, Zwinger, Brühl’s Terrace and the distinctive skyline of the historical centre.
The Saxon state capital welcomes visitors from all over the world with generous hospitality and all the flair of a lively metropolis. The presence of so many international scientists and entrepreneurs shows how attractive this city is. They are drawn by the characteristic ‘Dresden Spirit’ – the uncomplicated way in which the academic and business communities collaborate across all disciplines and all sectors of the economy. The status of TU Dresden as a University of Excellence also exerts a massive pull.
The best place to survey the splendour of Old Dresden at a glance is undoubtedly Theaterplatz, a city square that is pure Baroque, framed by the Residenzschloss (Dresden’s Royal Palace), the Zwinger, the Semper Opera House and the Hofkirche (Catholic Cathedral). The urban landscape owes its splendour primarily to August the Strong. With his obsession for collecting and for self-aggrandisement, the Saxon prince-elector made Dresden a splendid royal residence and bequeathed to us the artistic and cultural capital of European standing which we see today.
The 14 individual museums of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen (Dresden State Art Collections) – including the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Gallery) with priceless works of art from various centuries – are among the most important in the world. Accommodating part of the State Art Collections is the Residenzschloss, with the incomparable Historical and New Green Vault, the Kupferstich-Kabinett (Collection of Prints, Drawings and Photographs), the Rüstkammer (Royal Armoury), the Türckische Cammer (Turkish Chamber), the Riesensaal banqueting hall and the fascinating Münzkabinett (Coin Cabinet). The Church of our Lady, Japanese Palais and Pillnitz Palace are other products of this architecturally fertile period.
The Verkehrsmuseum (Transport Museum), on the other hand, represents a leap forward into the modern era. Over the centuries, this listed Renaissance building in the centre of the city has served as an armoury, a painting gallery and a historical museum. It is now a family attraction offering a lively programme of activities.
Neustadt – pleasantly different.
If you feel like a break from all the Baroque and history, we recommend a visit to the other side of the Elbe river, crossing via the Augustusbrücke and heading for the Goldener Reiter (Golden Horseman) statue. Here, in the district of Neustadt, a unique and colourful world opens up in front of you, an ‘alternative quarter’ which is home to the young, creative and multicultural scene. The mix is anything but mainstream: boutiques, art studios and galleries, countless pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and clubs with live music.
Regardless of which side of the Elbe you prefer to frequent, there is culture aplenty in Dresden. The Semper Opera House is, of course, one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world and home to the illustrious Sächsische Staatskapelle orchestra. And the recent history of Dresden has also been shaped by culture. Kraftwerk Mitte Dresden – an industrial monument of the 19th century – was opened in 2016 as a vast new site for the performing and creative arts.
The recently renovated Kulturpalast (Palace of Culture) is impressive for its modern architecture and for the great acoustics in its state-of-the-art concert hall. Not to be forgotten are the many festivals and events that fill the calendar, highlights of which include the Dresden Music Festival, the Dresden Jazz Festival, the Dresden International Dixieland Festival, the CANALETTO summer city festival and the Dresden Striezelmarkt, the oldest Christmas market in Germany. Dresdeners are also famous for having a ‘sweet tooth’. The traditional Dresdner Christstollen is a must-eat at Christmas time, but the famous Dresdner Eierschecke can be enjoyed all year round. This regional speciality is still baked today, as it was in the times of the writer Erich Kästner, who was born and raised in Dresden Neustadt.
If you are looking for peace, relaxation and nature, you do not need to stray outside the city bounds, because it’s all around you – the Grosser Garten park, the grassy Elbe river embankments and, on the outskirts, the wooded Dresdner Heide. The Saxon Elbland region offers an incomparable blend of nature, recreation and physical exercise. You can explore it from the water by taking a trip along the Elbe river on one of the historic paddle steamers of the Sächsische Dampfschifffahrt (Saxon Steamship Company), passing picturesque vineyards on the way downstream to Meissen, the home of the world-famous state porcelain manufactory.
If you are not averse to heights, you should take a detour to the climbing and hiking paradise of Saxon Switzerland. From the Basteifelsen rock, you can survey the Elbe valley and the surrounding mountains. Rising up from the valley of the Elbe river is 750-year-old Königstein, the largest fortress of its kind in Germany. Yet another architectural jewel is the baroque castle of Moritzburg, the former hunting lodge of August the Strong. On and along the route, there are many great opportunities for wine tasting – a Saxon delight.
Discover for yourself what else is on offer, why a visit (or a return) to Dresden and its magnificent surroundings is so worthwhile, and why the people here are so enamoured of their city and region.