Dresden was so heavily bombed during WWII that almost nothing remained of the baroque city. Huge restoration projects took shape after the war was over and now visitors can walk through the city without ever knowing that only 60 years ago, it was all but rubble. On this guided tour we take you to all the most popular sites in Dresden's Historic Old Town.
The Zwinger is one of those historic buildings that is so seamlessly incorporated into the fabric of the city. Yes, it is also a very popular tourist destination, but the people who live and work here, don't treat it with kid gloves. As if it's something precious and should only be viewed from a distance. They luncheon here, bring their children to play and dash through the archways on their morning run.
The Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (or Old Masters Gallery) is honestly the best art gallery I ever had the pleasure of visiting. It doesn't feel too big nor too small. It's like a grand old home that someone has decorated with exquisite pieces of arts — a stellar collection that's lovingly curated.
The first place I wanted to visit in Dresden was the fabled "Green Vault". The Green Vault or *Grünes Gewölbe* is Europe's largest collection of precious, historical treasures. It was the first public museum in all of Europe featuring a collection of crown jewels, royal bowls carved out of crystal, agate and ivory, golden figurines with multicoloured gems inlaid within and the ‘Dresden Green’ - the largest green diamond in the world. When walking up to the Green Vault, I suppose you expect to see a big green building but in fact, the gallery got its name a different way. During it's original construction, the columns and bases which held up the vaulted ceiling were all painted green - giving the entire place an Emerald city like vibe.
The Dresden Frauenkirche or Church of Our Lady in one of the grandest buildings in all of Europe, but it is its destruction, and reconstruction is to me, what makes this church stand out. The interior and overall design aren't in my top ten but the story behind, literally, every stone, is one I will never forget.
Along the side of the Georgentor, is one of the unique and valuable sites in Dresden. You'll walk by its dozens of times while visiting Dresden and I think it's worth more than a quick glance and few photos. This is the Procession of Princes of Fürstenzug.
The Dresden Theaterplatz (Theatre Square) is the main square which occupies the space in from of the Semperopera. This was one of the squares we frequently would be caught walking through and was for sure one of my favourite places. If you're entering the Theaterplatz from the Zwinger gates, you see the statue of King John in the centre, the Semperopera on the left and the Dresden Catholic Church and Royal Residence on the right.
The Schloßplatz, or Palace Square, is the main square in the old town district of Dresden. It is named the Palace Square since the former royal residence resides right on the edge of the plaza. A balcony down from the residence looks out over the area below so that the Royals could take a peek at the people of their city going about their lives. The Schloßplatz also houses the Catholic Church, the court houses of Saxony, the Georgentor, and Augustus Bridge the over the River Elbe. Like most other parts of the old city, the Palace Square the 15th-century designs of the square was destroyed in the WWII bombings. The building has been laboriously restored to their original historic design.
This building was always critical to the Catholic people of Dresden. After Augustus the II converted to the Protestant church, his son, seeing that the large Catholic population of his country needed a place of prayer, commission the construction of this church in 1738. Although like the rest of Dresden, the building was almost destroyed in WWII, the valuables such as the organ and altar pieces were saved and reintroduced into the restored church to bring together the original and restored church. The new church is built to the specs of the original using photography and first-hand experience to get all the details just right.
One of the best places to grab a bite to eat, enjoy people watching while being surrounded by one of the most beautiful views in Dresden, is at the Dresden Neumarkt. The Neumarkt is the cultural centre of the Dresden historical district. This area was mostly entirely destroyed in WWII during the same bombing runs that destroyed the Dresden Frauenkirche. After the war, during the communist era, the surrounding buildings were rebuilt in the socialist, realist style. This was not a favourite of the German people and after reunification these buildings were demolished and the reconstruction of the Neumarket to restore it to its original architectural style got underway.
Brühl's Terrace, or Brühlsche Terrasse, also known as the "Balcony of Europe". The area where the Terrace now stands is where the ancient old city ramparts were built in 1738. Once the Fort was no longer needed to protect the city from invaders, it was converted, by the King's orders, into an outdoor garden and space for the citizens of the city.
I had seen these boat tours advertised when we were walking around the city yesterday and thought that might be an excellent way to see the city from a different perspective as well as see a little more of the countryside outside of Dresden.
The Porcelain Gallery is easy to find. It is right underneath the glockenspiel that rings in the Zwinger every hour. The bells on the outside are also made from the same famous porcelain that is on display inside the gallery.
The Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon or Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments contians within it a myriad of historic clock and various different scientific instruments. But the incredible part about this museum is that these items not only serve a functional purpose but also are some incredbily beautifully artistic creations to feast your eyes on.