Dresden Travel Guide

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Dresden Overview

A heartland of industrial Germany, Dresden recently celebrated its 800th birthday, and is full of suitably ancient, crumbling buildings that make for an impressively ornate city centre setting. Having once been the heart of a large empire, Dresden could claim to be one of the richest cities in Germany until it was all but flattened by Second World War bombing, though most of the stunning historical heart of the city has now been rebuilt to its original condition.

Despite the rebuilding, though, you’ll find few cities in Europe that still show the markings of World War II quite so clearly. With many buildings scorched black and pock marked, some areas of the city can make for gloomy and depressing experiences, though most appreciate the chance to get sol close to history. If it’s the beautiful architecture you’re here for, though, check out the Zwinger Palace (home to Rafael’s Madonna Sistina, but amply beautiful in its own right), the dome Fraunkirche church and the wonderful opera hall, Semperoper.

If you prefer a livelier scene, Dresden has that, too, with a hefty nightlife to be found in the Neustadt (though be careful about leaving anything valuable – cars of bicycles, for example – lying around, as the locals have a tendency to smash them), home to the best of local music, clubs and bars. When you’re ready to head back to your hotel, the region also has a love of the traditional night-closer, the kebab, and does it in a uniquely German way.

If you prefer to explore the nearby countryside, head off up the Elbe River on a delicate old paddle steamer, or explore the mountain range that’s become known as ‘Saxon Switzerland’, home to wacky sandstone rock formations and plenty of attractive hiking trails.

While many travellers use Dresden as a convenient stop off between Berlin and Prague, its also a great city in its own right, both lively and historically interesting, with a beautiful countryside all around it. If you speak German, though, Dresden might be your downfall: this is the accent that other regions like to mock. Communication problems aside, though, you’re bound to love it.

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