“Dresden, a beautiful city, absolutely worth a visit.” I don’t know any other city where people are that united about their opinion as with the capital of the Free State of Saxony in Eastern Germany. A significant reason for us to visit the city, also called “Florence of the Elbe”, ourselves.
From Hanover it takes almost 4 hours by car until we arrive in Dresden. Our first accomodation is a modern and new building direct on the opposite to the famous Dresden Zwinger. As it’s not possible to get into our apartment directly after arrival we take the time for a short overview of the city. We pass through the Dresden Zwinger, one of the most popular attractions in Dresden. Built on behalf of August the Strong, it’s one of the showpieces of baroque architecture. We leave the Zwinger on side of the Taschenbergpalais where we make stop for lunch. It’s the time of federweisser and onion tart. Delicious.
We keep on moving. From Taschenbergpalais the famous buildings of the Semperoper and the Schinkelwache are within sight. Also the Dresden Castle is directly next-door. Just a few steps further and we are directly in front of the Frauenkirche on the Dresden Neumarkt Square. Again a couple of steps and we are standing on the Bruehlsche Terrace, a former rampart, converted to a park and strolling area with an awesome view to the river Elbe, in the 18th century. We notice: most attractions can be reached by feet as everything is very close to each other.
Our hotel package includes a 2-day museum pass for the famous art collections in the Dresden Zwinger, in the Albertinum as well as in the Lipsius Builiding. It’s going to be a cultural marathon. We are starting in the Zwinger with the Gemädegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Gallery): here we find important works of European painting. During our visit the gallery is not completely opened due to construction works in the building. So only the highlights of the collection are shown in a smaller area. We see paintings of very popular artists from the time of Renaissance to the epoch of Enlightenment, like Rembrandt, Dürer, Tizian, Boticelli, Vermeer and as special hightlight the Sistine Madonna by Raphael, popular for both small angels. It’s a great composition of paintings.
After that we visit the porcelain collection in the Zwinger. August the Strong was obviously a passionate fan and collector of porcelaine. Porcelaine was very rare in the 17th Century and was imported oversea from China and Japan. Porcelain was a symbol of pomp and wealth. August the Strong has brought this passion to Saxony by founding the – in the meantime world-famous -porcelaine manufacture of Meissen.
Another part of the Zwinger holds a collection of historical measuring instruments, globes, mechanical gadgets, magnifying glasses, clockwork mechanisms and so on. Basis of this collection was also the great interest of August the Strong in these sciences.
Now we are leaving the Zwinger and move on to the Dresden Castle where the next exhibitions are waiting. We are starting with the Green Vault. Here we find magnificent objects from all over the world: impressing carvings of ivory, small fancy boxes, richly ornamented goblets made of exotic materials, glass arts from rock crystal and opulent jewellery – simply everything the aristocracy of this time was delighted in.
We continue our visit in the armoury, with an exhibition of weapons, armours and garments of the last centuries. We pass through the princely gallery, have short view to the coin cabinet and visit the collection of copper engravings with a special exhibition about copper engravings of Rembrandt. Enough cultural input for this day.
We continue on the next day with a visit of the Albertinum. There we start with the exhibition of the New Masters. We see famous artworks from different epochs of modern art starting with Caspar David Friedrich up to Gerhard Richter. The other halls of the Albertinum are showing sculptures. One of the higlights is the famous sculpture of Auguste Rodin “The Thinker”.
Lunch – an on. Next point on our agenda is the visit of the German Hygiene Museum. This was established in the beginning of the 20th century by Karl August Ligner, manufacturer of the popular Odol-mouthwash. Here we see an exhibition about the human body from birth to death. Other topics are nutrition, sexuality and psyche. It’s okay for a visit, but not one of the highlights.
In the evening we return to the Dresden Neumarkt Square. At 6 pm is an evening prayer in the Frauenkirche with organ playing and an acoustical information tour about the Frauenkirche. Frauenkirche and many other buildings of the New Market Square were destroyed or heaviliy damaged during bombardments in World War II. The reconstruction started after reunification of Germany in the begining of the 90ies. Seeing the New Market Square today it’s difficult to imagine that this historical place is mainly a reproduction.
On the next day we make an excursion to the countryside. We go to the national park Saxon Switzerland. Saxon Switzerland is located in the South East of Dresden and popular for it’s bizarre rock formations of sand stone. Famous is the so called “Bastei” area with it’s prominent sandstone bridge. SO this is our first destination. We are parking nearby and start a round hiking tour in the Bastei area. We are crossing deep forests, passing through green mossy canyons, climbing endless steps up and down. The closer we come to the bridge the more people we are meeting on the path.
Bastei bridge and observation deck are quite crowded. The view to the Elbe valley with it’s towns, streets and railway is awesome. It looks like a miniature world. We pass the Bastei bridge and visit the ruins of the rock castle Neurathen. It takes much fantasy to imagine that on this place was a castle long time ago. After that we go straight to our car. Next destination is a real castle: Fortress Königstein.
This place indeed used to be a castle – but only until the 15th century. Then it was expanded to a military fortess due to it’s strategical good location on an almost 240 m high table mountain. Nowadays it’s a historical open-air museum. When we climb up the steep path from the parking area to the fortress entrance we are suprised by deafening noise: shots. Our view goes up to the fortress and see clouds of smoke going up. We are wincing again. Further shots. When we arrive at the fortess we see many people historically dressed up. Tent camps are built up on the fortess area. Soldiers in historical uniforms are marching around the area. It’s time of the military spectacle “Gunfire over the Elbe valley” where historical cannons are presented – of course not with live ammunition. This is really a special trip into the past. Beside the impressing fortess with it’s buildings and its interesting museum, the view from the fortess is absolutely great. It’s definitely worth the entrance fee of 12.00 EUR per person.
Also on the next day we want to have some excercise and also the weather is perfect for an open-air tour. So we are renting bicycles and take the way at the river Elbe to Castle Pillnitz which is 13 km away from Dresden City. Castle Pillnitz used to be the summer residence of August the Strong. As we already know he was keen on the Chinese culture – just think of the procelaine. This Chinese influence can be explicitely discovered in the architecture of parts of Castle Pillnitz, like the pagoda-like roofs. In the castle are interesting exhibitions about the castle and the life there, but also exhibitions about handicraft and interior design. The castle garden is perfect for strolling around and offers some specialties to see. For example the Camellia of Pillnitz with it’s movable glass house.
After visit of the castle we go for coffee and a typical “Dresdner Eierschecke” to Café Wippler nearby, before we are cycling back to the hotel – struggling with strong headwinds.
In the evening we are going to visit a special event. We could buy discounted tickets for the famous Semper Opera House and are going to see Puccini’s La Bohème. Okay, we must admit that we both have no affinity to the opera, but it’s a great opportunity for us to see – or better: to experience the spectacular Semper Opera Building from the inside. And this is indeed very impressing, though the visit could not wake up our passion for opera in general.
On the next day we discover Dresden as a modern location for industry: we are visiting the Volkswagen factory in Dresden. The factory is called “Gäserne Manufaktur” which can be translated with transparent manufacture. The Manufacture was built for the end assembly of the luxury vehicle VW Phaeton. Customers of this car should become the opportunity to experience the end assembly of their car in a classy ambience. The Phaeton is part of VW history in the meantime. Since 2016 VW assemblies the E-Golf in Dresden and generally they seem to focus on E-mobility and autonomous driving. The tour througth the factory is very informative. It’s very interesting to see how automatized lots of processes are. At the end of the visit we are enjoying an original VW curry sausage, probably the “part” with the highest stock turnover.
Actually our Dresden trip would now end. But as we still have some days left for holidays, we spontanious decide to extend our trip for two nights and book a room in the low budget hotel Super 8 by Windham. Rooms are small and functional, but to be realistic: during a city trip where we spend most of the time outside of the hotel it’s just enough to have a clean room and a comfortable bed.
The hotel offers rental bikes free of charge. Perfect. So we take again bikes and take our way along the Elbe river. Passing wine slopes and magnificent villas we arrive at the town of Loschwitz. There we see and take the oldest suspension railway of the world, which connects Loschwitz with Oberloschwitz. The suspension railway goes regularly up and down the slope. From Oberloschwitz on the top we have a great view to the Elbe and the bridge “Blaues Wunder” but also to the vineyards and villas in Loschwitz and Oberloschwitz.
On the way back we make short stop at the Lingner-Castle. We climb up many steps up the slope until we arrive at the erstwhile castle of the former Odol-manufacturer Karl August Lingner. An impressing castle which surely requires still some renovation works. We are having a drink in the beer garden there with a stunning view down to the Elbe valley.
On the way back on the Elbe cycle route to the city centre of Dresden we are quite astonished as we pass comedian Olaf Schubert who represents a stereotypical Saxon in German TV shows. Back in the Dresden Neustadt we are strolling around through this alternative city disctrict with it’s distinctive gastronomy and bar scene.
We pass through the “Kunsthofpassage”, a complex of several courtyards, which are known for a fancy and creative facade design. There are some nice shops with art and other stuff. And not to forget a really good café.
With all these impressions our trip to Dresden, which we can describe as histrorical, eventful, cosmopolitan and really colourfol city, comes to an end. From now on we can also say: “Dresden – absolutely worth a visit.”