One day was all we had to explore Dresden, as a one night stopover on our way to Prague. Not only was one day not enough to take in all that the 800 year old city has to offer. That one day also happened to be a Monday, when most of the attractions were closed. A good reminder to go online and check opening times when planning your itinerary.
We arrived from Berlin at the international train and bus terminal – a curiosity in itself for a couple of Australians. After a three hour bus ride, it was very easy to wheel our luggage a short way to our hotel in the modern town square. Even though our daughter was vowing she was going to “condense” our luggage before the end of the trip. We then headed off to the “old town” to make the most of our time to explore.
A city rebuilt
This was our first experience in ‘stepping back in time” from a bustling modern commercial centre into an ancient town square. Dresden is literally a city rebuilt, having been all but levelled by allied bombing towards the end of WWII in 1945.
Many of the old historic buildings have been painstakingly recreated over the past 50 years. The belltower of historic Frauenkirche still remains spiked into the ground in Neumarkt Square as a memorial to this sombre chapter in the town’s history. The rubble from the church remained where it tumbled on 13 February 1945 until as recently as 1990. At that time it was salvaged stone by stone to recreate the original protestant church dating back to 1726. The care taken in ensuring the authenticity of the reconstruction extended to researchers examining pre-war wedding photos to ensure the church doors were exactly as they had been when they fell.
In surrounding Neumarkt square, the old baroque gabled buildings were rebuilt one by one. Today the square is bustling with tourists, restaurants and cafes and segways – the two wheeled tourist scourge of Dresden and Prague. Here we lunched on schnitzel and the most magnificent brawn I have ever tasted. I will go back to Dresden just for that brawn.
Strolling along the Elbe River we took in the panoramic views of the state buildings on the other side of the river. From Bruhls Terrace, formerly the city ramparts and known as the “balcony of Europe,” we could see across the river to the other old town centre.
The Royal Palace was covered in scaffolding and under heavy reconstruction on the day of our visit. Burnt to it’s foundations during the bombing, it too has been painstakingly reconstructed as a museum over the past 50 years.
Procession of the Princes
From Schlossplatz however, we were still able to view the 100 metre long Meissen tiled mosaic “Furstenzug” or “Procession of the Princes”. This depicts the rulers of the house of Wettin in a mounted procession. It was completed for the 800th anniversary of the Royal house in 1872 by Wilhelm Walther.
Our walking tour took us through the courtyard of the former castle of the Kings of Saxony, now a museum said to be the oldest in the world. The “Grunes Gewolbe” or “Green Vault” was also levelled during the bombing, however most of the treasures had already been moved to safety and can now be seen in the restored buildings. Just not on Monday
The baroque Zwinger Palace not only boasts a large collection of porcelain, but also a courtyard laid out with gardens and fountains, where we were able to rest a while and take in the magnificence of the reconstructed palace.
A walk across the Augustusbrücke Bridge brought us through beautiful riverside parklands to the monument of the “Golden Horseman”. Embellished with 500 grams of gold leaf, Augustus the Strong is riding a horse, pointing to the inner Neustadt district and also the kingdom of Poland, also under the rule of Augustus in 1697.
Walking back across the River Elbe, we took in the scenery of the Dresden Cathedral adjacent to the Royal Palace. The Cathedral of St. Trinitatis, houses a famous stone pulpit, 250-year-old organ and the tombs of Saxon rulers.
Yes we viewed some of the “must see” monuments in Dresden from the outside, but our visit gave us many reasons to plan a few days revisiting Dresden on a future trip.
Have you visited Dresden?
I’d love to hear what I need to include in our itinerary in the comments.
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