Dresden Reworked

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October 18th 2017
Published: October 21st 2017
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Yesterday was the longest driving stint of our current European holiday, Krakow to Dresden. We arrived at Dresden around 1.30pm, and checked into our Hotel, which was located in Neustadt, just across the river from the Old City.

We had unfinished business in Dresden from our previous holiday in 2013, principally due to major flooding at that time, such that despite sandbagging, the river broke it’s banks and entered the Old Town. This unfortunately limited what attractions we could visit in Dresden, hence our return visit.

We walked across the bridge into the Old Town, taking the time to visit the Frauenkirche, which was only finished being rebuilt in 2005, after being totally destroyed during the firebombing of Dresden by Allied Forces between 13 and 15 February 1945. The inner city of Dresden was 90% destroyed by 722 RAF and 527 USAAF bombers, that dropped 2,431 tons of high explosive bombs, and 1,475.9 tons of incendiaries.

Needing a coffee to pick us up after our long drive, we headed to the famous Cafe Schinkelwache, which is located next to the Semper Opera House. After enjoying coffee and Apple Strudel, we walked around the Zwinger Palace grounds, and then past the Procession of Princes (Furstenzug), which is known as the largest porcelain artwork in the world. With a length of 102 metres, the mural displays the ancestral portraits of the 35 margraves, electors, dukes and kings of the House of Wettin between 1127 and 1904. The Fürstenzug is located on the outer wall of the Stables Courtyard of Dresden Castle. We then returned to our Hotel, and located an Asian Fusion restaurant nearby, which cooked great food.

This morning we checked out the funky Kuntshof Passage Neustadt, just a ten minute walk from where our Hotel accommodation was located. Liz and Darrol had discovered this creative area by chance, and we thought it worthwhile to take a look. The Art Courtyard Passage is full of little shops and courtyards. The Mythical Creatures courtyard invites you to interpret the detailed façade designs. In the Metamorphosis courtyard, observant visitors can see the slow transformation of 24 pieces of paper. In the Elements courtyard the colorful architectural downpipes turn into musical instruments when it rains.

We then walked to the Old Town, where we visited the Hofkirche, where an Organ Recital was underway. We sat down and listened to the booming tones of the organ filling this very large cathedral, staying until the end of the Recital. Following the end of the recital, we headed for the Residenzschloss, the Royal Palace of Dresden. We had missed visiting the palace on our last trip to Dresden. The palace is one of the oldest buildings in Dresden. For almost 400 years, it was the residence of the electors (1547–1806) and kings (1806–1918) of Saxony of the Albertine line of the House of Wettin.

The Royal Palace houses five museums, the Historic Green Vault, the Numismatic Cabinet, the Collection of Prints, Drawings and Photographs and the Dresden Armory with the Turkish Chamber. The Green Vault contains the largest collection of treasures in Europe. Founded by Augustus II the Strong in 1723, it features a unique and rich variety of exhibits from the period of baroque to classicism. The exhibits were extraordinary to say the least.

Next we viewed the Dresden Armoury, which contains one of the most valuable collections of weapons and armory in the world. The exhibition includes around 10,000 objects, including helmets, shields, swords, rapiers, daggers, sabres and maces, pistols and rifles, riding equipment and ceremonial clothes. Again, an extraordinary collection.

We then moved into the Turkish Chamber, that is focused on art from the Ottoma Empire. It displays more than 600 objects of art, making it one of the oldest and most significant collections outside Turkey. Included in the displays were massive Turkish Tents dating back hundreds of years.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the Numismatic Collection, with its nearly 300,000 pieces. It is one of Dresden’s oldest museums, dating back to the early 16th century, and contains one of the largest universal collections in Europe. We also didn’t get to visit the Collection of Prints, Drawings and Photographs, which includes work by renowned artists from numerous countries. There are approximately 515,000 objects by more than 20,000 artists across eight centuries. It holds drawings and prints by old masters such as Albrecht Durer, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Pablo Picasso. Next time.

With just a couple of hours left in the day, we decided to visit the Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister, which is housed in the Zwinger Palace. The collection displays around 750 paintings from the 15th to the 18th centuries. It includes major Italian Renaissance works as well as Dutch and Flemish paintings. Outstanding works by German, French and Spanish painters of the period are also among the gallery's attractions.

Included in the cost of the ticket to the Gemaldegalerie, was a ticket to the Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments, located also within the Zwinger Palace. After leaving the Alte Meister, we hurriedly made our way to the Mathematical Museum. The scientific instruments, huge magnifying glasses and antique telescope on display, made for an interesting end to our busy day in Dresden.

Tomorrow we are off to Berlin, and Kim and I need to decide where we detour to on the journey to the German Capital. The choices – Colditz Castle, the famous prison where Allied Airmen were held during WWII, or Potsdam, to visit Sans Souci Palace and Gardens.

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