The inner old town

Dresden Travel Blog

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Old town silhouette

I highly recommend to start exploring the old town (Altstadt) with a view from the opposite bank of the Elbe river, from the new town (Neustadt). You can easily get there by public transportation. Trams #3 and #7 stop at "Carolaplatz", trams #4, #8, #9 stop at Neustädter Markt. From both stops it's just a few steps to the riverside promenade. Walk to the oldest bridge "Augustusbrücke", a few steps west of it is the spot where Bernardo Bellotto (Canaletto) painted his famous picture of Dresden's riverside silhouette in the early 18th century, marked by a red metal frame. It seems not much has changed since then.

The gardens along the river are very beautiful, especially in spring when the cherry trees are in bloom and in autumn when the leaves change their colours.

New town at stop of trams #4, #8, #9, view toward the old town
April and October are perfect to see this. The beergarden "Elbsegler" is run by the Westin Bellevue hotel and a nice place to enjoy the views, basic food and beer.

Walk across the bridge, enjoy the beautiful views in all directions. In 2017 a reconstruction of the bridge will start, it's in quite bad shape at the moment. Afterward it's going to be pedestrian zone except for trams and bicycles. A contemporary work of art centrally on the downstream side reminds of the terrible flood in 2002.

From left to right you see these buildings: Brühl's terrace, former city walls right above the river, now a popular promenade with gardens. Inside this massive structure is a part of the medieval city walls preserved - a city gate with rooms for the guards, a courtyard for the cannons etc.
New town riverside gardens with view of the old town
Quite interesting and open for visitors (Festung Dresden). Above Brühl's terrace is the Academy of Fine Arts with exhibition building on the left side, with a large glass dome topped by the figure "fame" - late 19th century. The exhibition building is mostly used by the State Art Collections for temporary exhibits. The Academy building is home of the College of Fine Arts nowadays. Next to the right is a pastel-coloured Neo-Rococo building, which replaced the former private picture gallery building of Count Brühl, after whom the terrace is named and who owned that area in the 18th century. Nowadays the building is the Café vis-a-vis (belongs to the Hilton hotel), see my list of cafes in Dresden. Behind it, the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) dominates the scenery with its huge dome of sandstone.
New town riverside gardens with view of the old town
This landmark of Dresden is one of the most important ev.-Lutheran churches. The next building to the right is the Ständehaus, designed by Paul Wallot (architect of the Reichstag in Berlin, too) as former state parliament building and now home of the Saxon State Supreme Court.

The bridge leads right to a small square called Schlossplatz, with a former city gate in front of you called Georgentor (George gate), part of the Royal Palace. To the left a smaller, cobbled alley leads toward Frauenkirche. On the southern side of this alley is the Stallhof, the courtyard with the former Royal stables, breathing Renaissance atmosphere with arcades and sgraffiti. On the wall to the alley is a huge mural, the so called Fürstenzug (Procession of Princes), depicting the genealogy of the Royal Saxon family with name Wettin, made of Meissen porcelain tiles.
New town riverside gardens with view of the old town
Truly impressive. On the right (western) side of Schlossplatz, not to miss, is the late Baroque catholic cathedral SS. Trinitatis, the former Royal Court church. The gracious spire is one of the landmarks of the riverside silhouette of Dresden. It is connected by a passageway to the Royal Palace, a stunning complex with three courtyards, numerous towers - among them Hausmann tower, with 101 m the tallest in the city - and excellent museums of the State Art Collections. Both the Historic and New Green Vault have their homes here, also the Armoury, the Collection of Prints and Drawings, the Turkish Chamber and the Coin cabinet and some more.

Passing catholic cathedral and Royal Palace you get to the large Theaterplatz. This square is named after the theatre on the northwestern side, really a famous opera house which is named after its architect - Semperoper.
Canaletto viewpoint
Not only is it stunningly beautiful, on the outside like inside, it is also home of one of the best orchestras and opera companies in the world: Sächsische Staatskapelle and Saxon State Opera. Since a couple of years (and hopefully for many more) Christian Thielemann is principal conductor, following such famous precedessors like Carl Maria von Weber, Richard Wagner, Ernst von Schuch, Fritz Busch, Giuseppe Sinopoli and many others. On the southern side Theaterplatz is framed by the guard house, a classicistic building designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, and the Gallery Building, another work of Gottfried Semper, which is home of the famous Picture Gallery Old Masters. Walk through its gate into the courtyard and you're right in the Zwinger, a Baroque miracle of architecture and art.
New town riverside gardens with view of the old town
Enjoy a walk on the roofs, visit the charming Bath of the Nymphs, listen to the carillion made of Meissen porcelain, marvel at the sculptures and fountains. But don't miss the fantastic Porcelain collection and the Mathematical-Physical Salon, a stunning collection of historic scientific instruments, globes and watches/clocks.

Leave the courtyard through the gate with the carillion and walk by the Grandhotel Taschenbergpalais, a reconstructed Baroque palais that was turned into an upscale hotel. Have a meal there or just a coffee, enjoy the old world ambience in the vestibule. This hotel is connected by a passageway to the Royal Palace, walk on under it and enter the area around Neumarkt square which is still undergoing reconstruction. Most blocks are already completed, a mix of old and new architecture was built which lacks patina but all in all is an acceptable compromise between contemporary architecture and the illusion of more or less historic buildings.
New town riverside gardens in spring
Right in the middle of it all, however, is the orginally rebuilt Frauenkirche, a true miracle. The huge dome collapsed two days after the bombing in 1945, for decades the ruins stood there, sheep were grazing on the grass around the pile of rubble. After the wall came down in 1989 the decision to rebuild the church originally was made, in 2005 the church was re-consecrated, made possible mostly by donations from all over the world. Definitely go inside and learn about this church and its dedication to reconcilation of former enemies in war.

Walk on over the square with its monuments, have a meal or a coffee break in one of the many restaurants or cafes there. You may be interested in a visit of the city museum, which has its home in Landhaus, the old parliament building from the 18th century.
Augustusbrücke (bridge), view of the old town
Continue your walk along the police headquarter, a large castle-like building of sandstone, to Kurländer Palais with excellent restaurant Kastenmeier's. In front of you is the Albertinum, former armoury from the 16th century and turned into a museum building in the 19th century. It is nowadays home of the wonderful Picture Gallery New Masters (19th - 21st centuries) and the Sculptures Collection, both branches of the State Art Collection. Albertinum marks also the eastern end of Brühl's terrace with a beautiful garden that is a welcome green and blooming oasis in the old town, providing superb views of the river and the new town. You may wonder about the modern, massive sandstone structure right next to Brühl's terrace, it's the new Synagogue which miraculously won the World Architecture Award in 2001.
view from the bridge downstream


This walk so far has most likely taken most of the day, even without popping into the museums. It gave you a short overview of the highlights in Dresden's old town and will hopefully leave you with the wish to dig deeper, either add another couple of nights in the city or to come back pretty soon. Related reviews of the restaurants and sights are listed under this blog entry.


cotton_foam says:
the photos are well captured! Beautiful!
Posted on: May 22, 2017
X_Drive says:
Congrats on being featured!! :D
Posted on: May 22, 2017
Nemorino says:
Great photos. I've never been there in the spring when the trees were all blossoming. Somebody had a great idea to set up a Canaletto viewpoint so people can compare his painting with the way it looks today.
Posted on: Apr 19, 2017
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Old town silhouette
Old town silhouette
New town at stop of trams #4, #8, …
New town at stop of trams #4, #8,…
New town riverside gardens with vi…
New town riverside gardens with v…
New town riverside gardens with vi…
New town riverside gardens with v…
New town riverside gardens with vi…
New town riverside gardens with v…
Canaletto viewpoint
Canaletto viewpoint
New town riverside gardens with vi…
New town riverside gardens with v…
New town riverside gardens in spri…
New town riverside gardens in spr…
Augustusbrücke (bridge), view of …
Augustusbrücke (bridge), view of…
view from the bridge downstream
view from the bridge downstream
on the bridge, view of catholic ca…
on the bridge, view of catholic c…
on the bridge, view upstream with …
on the bridge, view upstream with…
tram on the bridge, view of Ständ…
tram on the bridge, view of Stän…
on the bridge, view back upstream …
on the bridge, view back upstream…
Ständehaus and dome of the Frauen…
Ständehaus and dome of the Fraue…
Schlossplatz with Georgentor and c…
Schlossplatz with Georgentor and …
flood monument on the bridge, view…
flood monument on the bridge, vie…
flood in 2013 with Brühls terrac…
flood in 2013 with Brühl's terra…
flood in 2013
flood in 2013
flood in 2013, view from new town
flood in 2013, view from new town
Theaterplatz by night (with cathol…
Theaterplatz by night (with catho…
Theaterplatz seen from the corner …
Theaterplatz seen from the corner…
Zwinger, the courtyard
Zwinger, the courtyard
Semperoper
Semperoper
Grand Hotel Taschenbergpalais
Grand Hotel Taschenbergpalais
Royal Palace, the small courtyard …
Royal Palace, the small courtyard…
Royal Palace, the grand courtyard …
Royal Palace, the grand courtyard…
Royal Palace, the mostly originall…
Royal Palace, the mostly original…
Augustusstraße, Ständehaus (Saxo…
Augustusstraße, Ständehaus (Sax…
an alley in the Neumarkt district …
an alley in the Neumarkt district…
Neumarkt square, Frauenkirche in t…
Neumarkt square, Frauenkirche in …
Brühls terrace, garden on the ea…
Brühl's terrace, garden on the e…
Brühls terrace, view to exhibiti…
Brühl's terrace, view to exhibit…
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Dresden
photo by: aloneinthecrowd