There are many ways to define culture and beauty. But they can be easily summarised in just one word: Dresden. The sheer wealth and splendour of the cultural treasures just a stone's throw from the Elbe plains are enough to take your breath away.

Although the attribute 'world famous' is dished out all too often, it is a befitting term for Dresden. The city is famed not only for its three major landmarks – the Baroque Zwinger Palace, Semperoper opera house and the Church of Our Lady – but also for Brühl's Terrace and the Royal Palace, the Elbe Castles on the Loschwitz hillside, the exclusive villas of the Blasewitz borough, the garden city of Hellerau and, of course, the twelve Dresden State Art Collections. Here you will encounter treasures such as Raphael's The Sistine Madonna and the Green Vault, the world's largest treasure chamber.

Dresden is also famed for its music. The opera house, the Staatskapelle orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic and the Kreuzchor boys' choir all leave audiences enraptured. The cultural calendar is packed all year round, with the city hosting international festivals and captivating theatre and dance productions. In summer, the city flocks to open-air events in parks and on the banks of the atmospheric Elbe River. Dresden is more than just a city of history and heritage, as evidenced by several modern architectural masterpieces. If you happen to be in Dresden in December, be sure to visit Germany's oldest Christmas market. The Striezelmarkt was first officially documented in 1434 and remains to this day a spectacular celebration of lights, colours and tantalising aromas.

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