Dresden Mini Guide
Dresden - Tell me More
The controversial bombing of Dresden by the Allies in World War II completely destroyed the inner city and wiped out centuries of beautiful architecture that had led to the city being called the ‘Jewel Box’ Much work has been done on restoring some of the main sights but the total destruction of the original asks some questions of the authenticity of the renovations.
A Little History Lesson
The name Dresden means ’people of the riverside forest’ and first appeared in the 12th century although the city officially existed only from 1206. In the 18th century the city was a centre of European art, culture and music, remaining so until the fateful bombing in 1945. Rather poignantly the anthem to peace and European unity, Ode to Joy was written here for the city.
Many airlines fly there including the budget airlines German Wings and Air Berlin. The airport has its own S-Bahn station and so access to the city is swift, convenient and cheap.
What to See in the City
The must-see sight of the city is the Zwinger Palace, a Baroque building of immense beauty, surrounded by beautiful, well-manicured gardens. There you’ll find the famed Madonna Sistina of Rafael too which this year turns exactly 500 years old and is being celebrated by an exhibition as well as a concert. In the city you should also visit Semperoper, thought to be the most beautiful opera house in Europe. Finally, in a gesture of solidarity for lives lost in World War II, visit the Frauenkirche which was reconstructed following the bombing, including a cross given by the people of Coventry in atonement for the destruction.
What to See Outside the City
Outside of the city, the rural landscape is inviting. Many of the people of the city head out of a warm summer’s evening to the Elbewiesen and picnic, party or play sport in the lush meadows. There are also regular concerts staged there.
Things to Do in the City
There can be few ways to spend more pleasurable hours than on a paddle steamer plying the River Elbe. With food and drink available on board plus the beautiful views of the countryside, you can easily spend a day just watching the world go by. There are also a number of creditable sports teams in the city in the fields of basketball, hockey and football. For a more cultural experience, try to get a ticket for the Semperoper. The performances in the acoustically perfect auditorium are out of this world.
If you Like to Shop
There are a number of malls, centred around the Altmarkt including a covered mall at the northern end. The key shop everyone visits is the Karstadt department store which sells everything including food
The city claims to have invented doner kebabs after finding the Turkish variety unsatisfying. The recipe is credited to a food seller in the 1970s who hit upon serving the meat with salad in pita bread.
The city is host to the massive Bunte Republik Neustadt music festival held annually which is attended by thousands of people. The Dixieland Festival is Europe’s biggest jazz festival and again occurs annually. Finally, Dresden is home to the oldest Christmas Market in Europe, the Striezelmarkt which lights up the centre of the city in November and December.