Hey there! Thanks for stopping by to read about our fantastic weekend in Dresden, Germany! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Amazing Points of Interest with Things To Do & See in Dresden, Germany
The History of Dresden
Dresden is the capital of the state of Saxony. It was once one of the most important and gorgeous cities in Germany. Sadly, in February of 1945, it was bombed, and 90% of the historic city center was destroyed. For years the town remained in ruins. It took over 50 years for the city to begin rebuilding; now, it is an amazing and gorgeous place.
Many of the buildings have been rebuilt to match the original, spectacular, Baroque style and elegance. Not only is this city romantic and gorgeous, but it also has brains! It houses a huge technical university and is the home to one of the world’s tech giants who manufactures microchips. This city is one of my top five most amazing and spectacular cities in Europe and should not be missed if you are in the area!
How to Get to Dresden
Where to Stay in Dresden
I stayed at the Aparthotel Schloss in the historic center of Dresden! There are a few things I look for when I book an apartment. In Europe, parking is super important – being able to park the car to walk everywhere! Free WiFi and a kitchen or kitchenette are all super important to me, too. This gorgeous hotel has it all and more. The rooms are big and gorgeous with wooden floors and huge bathrooms… plus a washing machine!
There are two sitting areas, each with little tables, a super comfy bed and a work space for me to write at during my stay. They have lots of options to choose from! So book Aparthotel Schloss when coming to Dresden! compare prices here
Tours to Take in Dresden
Okay, so I have been on a lot of tours in my ten years overseas, but the walking tour of Dresden is going in at an all-time fave! I took a walking tour in Dresden with Walks of Dresden and the amazing tour guide, Katharina Michael. She rocked! You can always tell when someone loves what they do, and she loves Dresden with all her heart.
She was born and raised in Dresden, living behind the wall for some of her life. She walked in the ruins of her city for years until they decided to rebuild the city’s ancient buildings that had been destroyed in WWII. She has amazing stories to tell and so much knowledge of the town – you won’t want the tour to end. I booked it with Viator.com, the price was only 13.00 euros – the best money I have ever spent! Check prices of tours in Dresden
Day Trips from Dresden
Another amazing tour and one-of-a-kind sight you should see if you are in the area is the Saxony National Park that sits between the border of Germany and Czech. You can see the amazing Bastei Bridge, or the Koenigstein Fortress, with a tour and audio guide. If you are a hiker or rock climber, the park has over 700 summits that you can climb, hike, or wander through. It is a one-of-a-kind place… and coming from Colorado, that means a lot when I say it! You can find it through Viator – trust me, you will not be disappointed! Check prices of all tours
Points of Interest in Dresden
Bruhl’s Terrace is named for the man who once owned the land there. It is now a beautiful balcony, overlooking the Elbe River, perched on the ancient city wall of Dresden. From here you can see across the river to the Golden Reiter. You can gaze at the Augustus Bridge, stare in amazement at the steamboats as they churn down the river, or walk by the Academy of Fine Arts at the end of the terrace.
Not only is this gorgeous, but it also has a dark side (regarding the mistress of Mr. Bruhl.) The story goes… Bruhl was not so nice to his mistress. Eventually, she was so heartbroken that she jumped from the terrace, to her death, into the river below. Many locals say if you walk the terrace around midnight you will run into the mistress who is searching for revenge in the dark of night!
Katholische Hofkirche Dresden
The Dresden Cathedral; for those who know any history about German religion, you will be super surprised to see a giant Catholic Church here! Why? Well, this is Protestant territory and full of followers of Martin Luther and the Reformation movement! That being said, most people were not believers in the Catholic Church! So, why is a church here? Interestingly enough – and a wonderful story told by our guide Katharina (among the 30 other amazing stories she told us on our walk) – the story goes like this:
August the Strong, as he was called by his people, wanted to be a king. Sadly, Saxony did not have kings. They had high-ranking princes and elected government officials who ruled the land, but not the title of king. So, he set out to become a king.
His neighbors in Poland had kings, however, in order to become a king in Poland, you had to be Catholic. August the Strong was a Protestant; like many others in the area, he denounced the Catholic Church, too. However, he so badly wanted to be a king. So in order to get the “designation” of king, he bribed his way into government circles and secretly converted to Catholicism (unbeknownst to the people of Dresden.)
Later, he secretly started construction of this Catholic Church where the people of the town only knew of a building being built yet had no idea it would be a Catholic Church. If they had, there would have been outrage! How did he do this? He hired an architect, Gaetano Chiaveri, and builders directly from Italy, so the people of Dresden would not know what was going on. It took 17 years to construct, between 1726-1743, and was built as his own private church! During the process he also changed the law that stated the people had to follow the ruler’s religion (to make sure the people of Dresden didn’t freak out.) So although he became Catholic, he assured his people they could keep their Protestant religion.
When he died, although he was a king of Poland, he asked for his heart to remain in Dresden. His body was sent to be buried in Poland, but his heart stayed in Dresden and remains in the crypt of the church today. Some say when a pretty girl walks by, the heart starts to beat again. He loved the ladies – in life and in death.
Semperoper Opera House of Dresden
This architectural beauty was originally built in 1841, and the building you are looking at now is the third rebuild. There was a devastating fire in 1869 which destroyed the building. It was rebuilt only to be destroyed on that fateful night in February of 1945. Now you see the gorgeous rebuild standing proudly in the square. This is a working opera house and people come from all over the world to see operas performed here. If you are not an opera fan, you can still take a tour of the building just to marvel at the gorgeous architecture. You can find all the info on the opera house here.
Things to do in Dresden
Zwinger Gallery of Dresden
I have to tell you – when you walk through any of the arches into the courtyard, you are going to be blown away – I am not kidding! This place is magnificent and the photos do not do it justice. The courtyard was once a playground for royalty – they held festivals and games there. It was also once full of exotic orange trees from around the world.
You will just stare in amazement at the architecture and sheer beauty of this courtyard. Since you are here, there are a few things you should not miss. One, look to the gate with the white porcelain bells; yes, they are porcelain and will chime every 15 minutes.
See the Porcelain Museum
Housed to the right of the chimes is the Porcelain Museum, or Porzellansammlung, with the largest collection of porcelain artifacts in the world. It has oriental porcelain from the Ming Dynasty, dating back to the 16th century, and the famous Meissen porcelain which was invented in Dresden in 1708 under the supervision of August the Strong! You will be in awe. Take a virtual tour of the gallery here!
Walk Through the Crown Gate
In the middle of the buildings you will see the Crown Gate or Kronentor. Is this not the most gorgeous thing you have ever seen?! I mean, wow! Now that you know about August the Strong, also know that he built this to remind everyone he was a king, even if it was in Poland!
Visit the Museum of Mathematics
Over to the corner of the courtyard houses, another museum of mathematics and physics was founded under August the Strong in 1728. Today, this continues to be one of the most important museums for physics and mathematical instruments. If you are a math or physics person, you will want to roll around on the floor! It has clocks, globes, instruments, and artwork that was used to gather information about math and physics. You can take a virtual tour here!
See the Fountain of Nymphs
Moving again to the right you will see a coffee shop, and if you walk through the shop and out the back door, you will find the Fountain of Nymphs; take a breath of fresh air and prepare to be amazed at this gorgeous fountain.
Visit the Gallery of Masters
Last in this impressive complex, is the gallery of the old masters, one of the most impressive groups of artwork in the world. It houses originals such as masterworks including Raphael’s “Sistine Madonna” and Giorgione’s “Sleeping Venus.” If you are an art lover, this is your gig!
Many of the originals were fought over by the Red Army but are now safe and sound in the museum. If you have your kids with you, they even do tours for kids to make art and history interesting, or you can wander through on your own with an audio guide.
The complex and exhibits are open Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. with an admission price of 10€ per person (kids under 17 are free.) You can buy a ticket for entrance to all the exhibits or you can purchase certain galleries separately. All the info on the Zwinger Museum and courtyard is here.
Visit the Dresden Palace
There was a time when this castle was the grandest and most important place in Saxony! This is where all the royal family lived! Sadly, it was also gutted in the February bombing night of WWII. The people of Dresden fought to keep it from being totally demolished and it has since been rebuilt in its original style. Today, it is a museum that houses many different exhibits.
Walk though the Green Vault
One being the Gruenes Gewoelbe or the Green Vault. This is an exhibit of all the amazing and ancient treasures of the royal family. It has everything from jeweled mirrors and shells to coconuts and ostrich eggs, all of which are bedazzled and fit for a prince! Seriously, this place is amazing!
The entrance to the museum was once an open-aired courtyard for the palace. It has since been covered with silicon-heated windows (um, Germany – you are always ahead of the game.) You can buy tickets for one exhibit, or all of them, at the door or online. There are exhibits of prints and photographs and an ancient war room depicting all the gear and weapons used to defend Dresden. There is even an exhibit of the history of money and coins in the area. The museum is open Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. on Saturday (closed on Sunday.) You can find all the info about the place and its exhibits here!
The Fürstenzup Wall Dresden (Procession of Princes)
This amazing wall is composed of 23,000 Meissen porcelain tiles, all put together to make this beautiful mural. It is the largest piece of porcelain art in the world and was designed in 1904. Luckily, this beauty escaped damage in the war. It starts from the beginning of Dresden’s history and portrays 35 of the most important people – all the rulers of Saxony. True to art, each portrait tells something interesting or funny about the ruler.
This is a beautiful Renaissance building and it houses a collection of transportation relics. If you are a transportation geek, or have kids who love trains, planes, and automobiles, this should be on your list. It has some amazing old cars that any car buff will drool over! The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. (except Easter and Christmas.) It is 9€ for adults/kids (anyone under five is free.)
This gorgeous, round church sits in the middle of the old town. It was bombed in WWII, almost totally destroyed, and remained in ruins for over 50 years. All that was left was the one pillar you see in the photo above. It was recently rebuilt, and while you are looking at it you can see the dark black bricks speckled throughout the exterior of the church. These dark bricks are the original bricks and one standing pillar that was the original building. The stones were picked from the rubble and used to rebuild the church as a sign of healing and forgiveness for the Dresden people. Look below and you can see the black dots throughout the exterior; those dots are the original pieces of the church!
The price to rebuild the church was over 180 million euro. The city of Dresden wanted to rebuild but needed the money, so they sent out a call for help, worldwide, asking for funds to rebuild the church. The world answered and 75% of the money needed to rebuild was donated from around the world! The church was rebuilt as a symbol of peace, hope, and forgiveness.
The inside of the church is uniquely round and pink in color. It is round because they had limited space to build. To the right of the altar is a black burnt cross – this is the original cross that was charred and melted in the rubble of the church. It has been replaced by a gold cross from a manufacturer in the UK. Interestingly enough, a man at this UK company was one of the men who flew the planes that dropped the fire bombs on the church that fateful night in February of 1945! Wow, right?! This church is the ultimate symbol of forgiveness, rebuilding, and peace that the whole world should learn about!
Shopping and Food
The Guinness Book of World Records calls it the world’s most beautiful dairy shop. It is full of cheese! Yes, so much cheese you won’t know what to do with yourself! There is a coffee shop and cafe upstairs, and you will love how gorgeous this place is! Cheese paradise!
Dresden 1900 Museumsgastronomie
This too cute little place is directly across from the Fraunkirche in the square. The waiters are all dressed as train conductors from the 1900’s, and in the back is an old tram-car from the early 1900’s. It was actually crane-lifted through the glass ceiling. You can reserve to eat in it or just take a photo if you are there. In the back there is a section for kids with toys and books so mom and dad can enjoy some food and a drink. They have a signature raspberry Sekt cocktail, and their soups are served in upside-down conductor hats. So cute.
I hope you enjoyed this amazing town as much as I did! Did I miss anything? Do you have any questions about Dresden? If so, drop a comment below!