Cycle Tour Im Land der Sachsen und Sorben - Rundtour
Planned tour: aus RADtouren 2/18
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Added on 26 Mar 2018,
on 27 Mar 2018
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Dresden, Sachsen, DE (110 m NHN)
Dresden, Sachsen, DE (110 m NHN)
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Dresden is the capital of the German federal-state of Saxony (Freistaat Sachsen). It's often called Elbflorenz, or "Florence on the Elbe", reflecting its riverine location and its role as a centre for arts and beautiful architecture - much like Florence in Italy. While Florence flourished during the early renaissance, the Golden Age of Dresden was in the 18th century when, under August the Strong and his son, Friedrich August II, Saxony was a rich and important state and the rulers invested in lush architectural projects in their capital and supported artists of worldwide fame.
Although Dresden suffered catastrophic damage from allied bombing in 1945 and then lost much of its remaining architectural heritage at the hands of the socialist city planners of the DDR era, the city managed to resurrect its charm by rebuilding the most important landmarks, culminating with the renovation of the famous Frauenkirche just in time for the city's 800th birthday in 2006.
Today, Dresden remains a charming, relaxed and in many ways beautiful city and has become a very popular tourist destination, in addition to being a regional economic, political and academic centre. Dresden gets about ten million tourists a year, most from Germany, with the Czech Republic, the USA, Russia and Japan being the most frequent countries of origin of foreign visitors.
Dresden is over 800 years old, having become a city as long ago as 1206. Many Saxon princes, dukes and kings called Dresden home, the most famous of them being August der Starke (Augustus the Strong), who was also the King of Poland. The many buildings that date from their reign, especially the rich art collections, are testimony to their extreme wealth. The "Madonna Sixtina" was bought by the son of August the Strong. The last Saxon king abdicated in 1918, famously saying "macht doch euern Dregg aleene" (roughly translated from the original Saxon as "do your dirty work yourselves") when he did so.
Three quarters of the historical center of Dresden was destroyed by Allied bombing towards the end of the Second World War on February 13, 1945. More than 20,000 people died in the fire-storms - the exact number is unknown. These traumatic events are still remembered each year in processions and ceremonies, but has also been used by Neo-Nazis for demonstrations, which in turn attracted anti-fascist counter-demonstrations. Suffice to say, that the date is important to Dresdners even 70 years after the events. For many years the ruins - and now the newly rebuilt Frauenkirche with its gold cupola donated by the former British enemies - acted as a call for peace among the different nations of the world. The historical center is nowadays largely restored to its former glory but some parts are still under reconstruction.
The Zwinger was rebuilt in 1964, the Semper Opera house in 1985, and the now most famous landmark of Dresden, the Frauenkirche, in 2005. When asked what they like most about their city, Dresden citizens will reply: the Old Town (which is quite compact, even though it has a lot of well-known attractions and museums of worldwide meaning), Dresden-Neustadt (an alternative central quarter) and the environs like the wine town Radebeul (birthplace of Karl May, a famous German author of wild-west-novels), the climbing area of Saxon Switzerland, lots of castles, and much of the city landscape of about 80 quarters. Architecturally, Blasewitz is the most interesting living quarter, despite it being a hilly landscape.
Many historic sandstone buildings are black. But it's not necessarily because of burnings or pollution - the local sandstone naturally blackens after a while. You can see this natural phenomenon in the nearby Saxon Switzerland and on paintings of Dresden from the 18th century, where the sandstone buildings are black as well.
Dresden was an important city in the former German Democratic Republic and the GDR-Architecture is still very visible in the city. In the city center The "Prager Straße" and the "Kulturpalast" are examples for classical GDR architecture. If you leave the center you will find a lot of apartment blocks, called "Plattenbau" as they are typical in neighbouring Poland, eastern Europe and Russia. Especially the quarters Gorbitz and Prohlis were (re-)built in the 1970s and 1980s in the then "modern" Plattenbau style, and are now faced with similar problems as those kinds of neighborhoods have in most of Germany. Very few traces of World War II are still visible in the city.
The time since the end of the GDR hasn't left too many architectural marks on the city yet, but some such as the controversial "Waldschlößchenbrücke" that cost Dresden its designation as a world heritage site are very visible even to the casual observer.
Dresden is a very beautiful, light-spirited city, especially in summer, when you can appreciate the serene setting of the historic centre. The historic centre of Dresden is quite compact and walkable.
- ⊙ Frauenkirche. The original Church of Our Lady was completely destroyed during WWII; however, it has been reconstructed. The City of Coventry, which was raided by the Luftwaffe in WWII, donated the golden cross for the dome of the church. Check out some ruins in the basement. Do not miss the tower visit and bring good shoes to climb in (otherwise you will not be admitted!).
- ⊙ Zwinger Palace (tram 4, 8 and 9 Theaterplatz and tram 11 am Zwingerteich), ☎ +49 351 4912-2000. The baroque palace features a nympheum, many sculptures of Permoser, a bell pavilion and famous art collections. Do not miss the "Alte Meister" - you'll find the famous Madonna Sistina of Rafael there including the well known angels. There is also a very nice museum on the arms of Saxon kings, the "Rüstkammer". Entry is free to the palace but to see expositions you need a €10 ticket (€7.50 discount).
- Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery) – Masterpieces in a newly arranged order
- Porzellansammlung (Porcelain Collection)
- Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon (Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments)
- ⊙ Residenzschloss (Royal Palace Dresden), Schloßstraße at the corner of Taschenberg, ☎ +49 351 4914-2000.
- The Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault) is Europe's most splendid treasure chamber museum. You can see the biggest green diamond and the court of Aurengzeb and its precious crown jewels. This is actually two museums, each requiring a separate ticket: Historic Green Vault (Historisches Grünes Gewölbe) is famous for the splendours of the historic treasure chamber as it existed in 1733, while the New Green Vault (Neues Grünes Gewölbe) focuses attention on each individual object in neutral rooms.
- Rüstkammer im Residenzschloss (Armoury in the Royal Palace Dresden) with Türckische Cammer (Turkish Chamber) and Riesensaal (New Giants’ Hall).
- Kupferstich-Kabinett (Collection of Prints, Drawings and Photographs)
- Münzkabinett (Coin Cabinet)
- Neues Grünes Gewölbe (New Green Vault), Rüstkammer, Kupferstich-Kabinett and Münzkabinett: W-M 10:00-18:00, closed Tuesdays. Admission Residenzschloss: €12.00, concessions: €9.00, children
- Historisches Grünes Gewölbe (Historic Green Vault): W-M 10:00-19:00, closed Tuesdays. Ticket Historic Green Vault: €12.00, including Audioguide, children time limit.
- Combi-ticket, adult: €21.00.
- ⊙ Semperoper (Saxon State Opera and concert hall) (tram 4, 8 and 9 Theaterplatz). Guided tours in English daily 15:00; Adults: €10, concessions: €6, families: €20, photo fee per person: €3 (but they don't check if you have it). Tours in German throughout the day.. One of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. The acoustics and the Staatskapelle orchestra, are marvellous. Its history saw many operas of Wagner and Strauss having their first nights there. Make sure to book tickets in advance. Some last-minute tickets are available from the box office shortly before the performance starts. Seats which do not have a good view are very cheap, and you can sit on benches behind the seats, right at the top of the auditorium, for free. varies for each performance.
- ⊙ Fürstenzug (Altstadt, near Brühlsche Terasse). This biggest porcelain painting of the world shows (almost) all Saxon princes, electors and kings on their horses and splendid parade uniforms. (There is only one female person at the painting, find it.) It leads to the "Stallhof" - the last preserved tournament place contained in a European castle. In Winter, the Stallhof is the location of a medieval style Christmas market with a big fireplace.
- ⊙ Neue Synagogue, Hasenberg 2 (Tram 3 and 7, Synagoge). The New Synagogue stands on the site of the former Semper Synagogue. The old one was designed by Gottfried Semper, famous for many other important buildings in Dresden. Erected in 1840 and destroyed in 1938 during the Kristallnacht. Unlike the buildings in the Altstadt destroyed during the war, it has not been rebuilt in the original style, but replaced by a starkly modern construction in 2001. Despite appearances, the "stones" are not sandstone but rather concrete made to look alike. The cubic warship hall is accompanied by a lower service building across a stone plaza. The design in striking in an austere way both on the outside and the inside. There are 60 minute guided tours from Sunday to Thursday (except on Jewish religious holidays), at times listed here . Guided tour per person - €4, reduced - €2.50.
- ⊙ Kulturpalast, Schloßstraße 2 (Tram Altmarkt). The Kulturpalast, or Palace of Culture, is socialist era building finished in 1969, standing right in the middle of the gradually reconstructed Altstadt, in stark contrast to the historic buildings surrounding it and supplanting some of the old buildings that closed the Altmarkt from the north before the Second World War. It was originally planned to be a super-tall, ornate structure in the mould of the Palace of Culture in Warsaw, but ended up being a large concert hall with height on par with surrounding buildings, in an austere Bauhaus-inspired style. It is now a protected architectural monument, along with a giant socialist-realism themed mosaic on its western wall, facing the Schloßstraße. From 2012 until 2017 the Kulturpalast is completely closed down for an extensive, and controversial among Dresden residents, interior reconstruction.
- ⊙ Brühl's Terrace (Brühlsche Terrasse) (tram 4 8 and 9 Theaterplatz). The "Balcony of Europe" stretches for 500 metres along the River Elbe, some 10 metres over the water table, and being up to 20 metres wide. Freely open to the public since 1814, it provides space shielded from the danger of flooding, as well as from motorized traffic (which runs directly below over the Terassenufer) for walking, relaxing and enjoying a meal or a drink to locals and visitors, with views of the picturesque Elbe and an impressive backdrop of historic buildings at its back.
Very nice, lively neighbourhood. Part alternative, part "pseudo-exclusive" and expensive. Check out the Bunte Republik Neustadt festival in June. But you shouldn't leave your bicycle unattended without a good lock, as there can be a serious risk of damage to your bicycle as well as your car, especially on weekend nights.
- ⊙ Dresden Baroque Quarter. Real baroque houses. The quarter reaches from the "Heinrichstrasse" up to the "Albert Platz". On the Heinrichstr and in the surroundings you will find a lot of antique stores. It is the quarter where you will find different nice and small shops where the owner will serve you. It is the quarter of individuality.
- ⊙ Kunsthofpassage. It is a passage in the middle of Neustadt where you may find two different buildings, many small stores and some bars. A nice complex of inner courtyards artistically decorated. The complex offers art galleries as well as coffee shops
- ⊙ Pfunds Molkerei, Bautzner Straße 79. A milk store which is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most beautiful dairy in the world. Decorated with 247 m² of handmade tiles.
- ⊙ Dreikönigskirche, Hauptstraße 23, ☎ +49 351 8124101. (for the tower) March-October: Monday: closed Tuesday:11:30-16:00 Wednesday-Saturday: 11:00-17:00 Sunday/public holidays: 11:30-17:00. You get a nice view of the whole city from the whole city and the price of admission to the climb is lower than at the more famous Frauenkirche adult 3€ reduced 2€ child under 10: free. (updated May 2016 | )
- ⊙ Großer Garten (Big Garden). Recommended for relaxing and sports (rollerblades are very common). It's Dresden's "green lung" and can be reached easily by tram. You can also go on a ride on a seasonal miniature train through the park.
- ⊙ Gläserne Manufaktur, Lennestr. 1 (at tram stop Straßburger Platz), ☎ +49 18 0589-6268. M-F 08:00-20:00. The "Transparent Factory" is the site where Volkswagen assembles its upmarket, luxurious Phaeton saloon, the Touareg SUV and the Volkswagen CC sports sedan. Designed to be "transparent", so that visitors can view the production, it only does the final stages of assembly, including the "marriage" of the body and the undercarriage, with both parts arriving pre-made from other VW plants by truck, and other minor parts delivered by the CarGoTram six times a day through the streets of Dresden from a railway junction.
There are German and English language tours available hourly, except on certain days and during the holiday breaks, when there are no tours, but visitors can still use the interactive terminals in the visitor centre free of charge. An on-site restaurant is operated by Dresden's Hotel Kempinski and offers both lush dinners in the evening and reasonably-priced lunches 12:00-15:00. Customers purchasing any of the models assembled at this facility can arrange with their dealers for a factory pick-up. Tour: €7.
Museums and Galleries
- ⊙ Albertinum Museum. The "New Masters" collections feature a wonderful range from romantic painters like Caspar David Friedrich to Rotloff and Van Gogh.
- ⊙ Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau, Between Frauenkirche and Brühlsche Terrasse. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. Impressive building for the arts constructed in the 19th century. Combination ticket Albertinum and Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau Admission fee: €12.50.
- ⊙ Japanisches Palais. The palace was bombed out and in its partially restored state holds several small museums, including the museum of natural history of the region, museum of prehistory and a display of assorted exotic garments (ethnological collection).
- ⊙ Museum Der Stadt Dresden (Dresden City Museum), Wilsdruffer Straße 2.
- ⊙ Kasematten (under the Brühlsche Terrasse (the terrace at the Elbe river)). Apr-Oct M-Su 10:00-18:00; Nov-Mar 10:00-17:00. The remains of the old fort. Gives you a glimpse of what a fort in a medieval European town was like. Tour: €5, €2.50 concessions.
- ⊙ Dresden Transport Museum (Verkehrsmuseum), Augustusstraße 1 at Neumarkt, ☎ +49 351 8644-0. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. The museum is housed in the Johanneum at the Neumarkt, near Frauenkirche. €7, concessions: €3, Family Card: €12.
- ⊙ Erich-Kästner-Museum. Dedicated to author, poet, screenwriter and satirist Emil Erich Kästner, known primarily for his humorous, socially astute poetry and children's literature such as Emil and the Detectives who was born and grew up in Dresden.
- ⊙ German Hygiene Museum, Lingnerplatz 1 (Near the Big Garden.). A comprehensive museum dedicated to hygiene in various times and cultures. Despite its somewhat antiquated name you can learn a lot about the human body, including its diseases, nutrition and various other aspects. The children's section and special exhibitions are also well worth checking out. Has signage in English as well as German although the German texts tend to be more exhaustive.
- ⊙ Kunsthaus Dresden, Rähnitzgasse 8. An exhibition hall for contemporary art.
- ⊙ City Gallery of Dresden, Wilsdruffer Straße 2. Art from the 16th Century to the present day.
- ⊙ Kunsthof Dresden, Görlitzer Straße 23. Assortment of public artworks, galleries, shops selling art.
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Wikivoyage contributors, 'Dresden', Wikivoyage, The FREE worldwide travel guide that anyone can edit, 8 October 2016, 23:09 UTC, <https://en.wikivoyage.org/w/index.php?title=Dresden&oldid=3063522> [accessed 15 October 2016]
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