Dresden, Germany

Old Town Dresden is very compact. You could visually walk by most of the highlights within a couple of hours. But why hurry? Let this travel guide help you discover why Dresden is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the former East Germany.

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1 Old Town of Dresden, Germany

You are admiring the pastel spectrum of Neumarkt in Old Town Dresden, Germany. A single day in this delightful city explains why it was once called the Jewel Box. For centuries, the capital of Saxony was renowned as a leader in culture and art housed in impressive Baroque and Rococo architecture. Within a few days during World War II, everything was destroyed. Everything! But as a testament to perseverance and 75 years of hard work, major landmarks have been meticulously rebuilt to reflect their prior glory. Dresden sparkles again. You will be captivated during every step.

Neumarkt, 01067 Dresden, Germany

2 Reconstruction of Frauenkirche in Dresden, Germany

In early 1945, Allied Forces dropped nearly 4,000 tons of bombs on Dresden. The air raids decimated the city while killing over 20,000 people. The slow process of restoration began after World War II. Yet the ruins of Frauenkirche – one of the most beloved sites in Old Town – were left as rubble for nearly 50 years. The first Church of Our Lady was built during the 11th century. The Lutheran church was replaced with a handsome Baroque design in 1743. In 1992, plans got underway to reconstruct Frauenkirche. While architects used 3D technology to duplicate the former design, people inventoried every stone so they could be reused like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Old photos were collected from citizens to help duplicate the interior. On October 30, 2005, Frauenkirche Dresden was reconsecrated.

Neumarkt, 01067 Dresden, Germany

3 Neumarkt in Dresden, Germany

Neumarkt was established in the 16th century. Over time, the large town square evolved into the social and economic cornerstone of Altstadt (Old Town) Dresden. The edges were defined by colorful Baroque-style buildings displaying rows of dormer windows. During the Seven Years’ War (1756 – 1763), New Market Square was damaged but quickly recovered. However, after being obliterated at the end of WWII, Neumarkt lay fallow for decades. Since the early 2000s, facsimiles of the original buildings have been reconstructed within eight sections according to a twenty-year plan. The results are stunning! Admire the historic reproductions while strolling along the cobblestones. On the left is a statue of Martin Luther (1483 – 1546). He was an Augustinian monk who challenged the Catholic faith and initiated the Protestant Reformation. The memorial was created in 1885 by Adolf von Donndorf and Ernst Rietschel.

Neumarkt, 01067 Dresden, Germany

4 Children’s Frieze on Heinrich Schütz House in Dresden, Germany

Here is an example of the marvelous architectural details you will discover while exploring Neumarkt. This relief of 32 dancing children is called Children’s Frieze. The sandstone artwork was originally created by sculptor Christoph Walther I in 1535. The bay window adorns the Heinrich Schütz House. This was the former residence of the 17th century German composer Heinrich Schütz.

Frauenstraße 14, 01067 Dresden, Germany

5 New Town Hall Tower in Dresden, Germany

Architect Karl Roth is credited with the Art Nouveau and Baroque design of New Town Hall. Rathaus Dresden opened in 1910. The massive 140,000 square foot floorplan was reconstructed after the war. The 328 foot clock tower (Rathausturm) ties for first place as the tallest structure in Dresden. The observation deck provides great views. On top of the tower is a gilded statue of Hercules, the protector of the city. In front of New Town Hall is Trümmerfrau. This translates to Ruins Woman. The sculpture is a tribute to the women who moved more than a million tons of rubble after the Allied bombings.

Dr.-Kuelz-Ring 19, 01067 Dresden, Germany

6 Procession of Princes Mural along Royal Palace in Dresden, Germany

A fortified keep was one of the first structures in today’s Dresden near the start of the 13th century. Over the centuries, the rudimentary residence evolved into Dresden Castle. It is also called the Royal Palace or Residenzschloss because this was home to ruling electors (1547 – 1806) and kings (1806 – 1763). In 1871, artist Wilhelm Walther was commissioned to paint an elaborate mural outside the castle wall. The alleyway is called Langer Gang (Long Arcade). The 330 foot artwork shows members of the House of Wettin on horseback. This family dynasty ruled Saxony from 1423 until 1918. The Procession of Princes also had images of scientists, artisans and farmers. After the mural began to fade, Fürstenzug was recreated in 1907 using 24,000 porcelain tiles. Somehow this visual gem survived the 1945 bombing.

Augustusstraße 1, 01067 Dresden, Germany

7 Royal Palace Clock Tower in Dresden, Germany

The clock tower of the Royal Place was finished in 1676. The octagonal tower is called Hausmannsturm. The 329 foot height afforded watchmen an unobstructed view of the city. The housemen also rang the bells every quarter hour. Today, you can climb 222 steps to an observation deck before or after visiting the five museums inside of Dresdner Schloss (Dresden Castle). On the left is a section of Dresden Cathedral. Let’s zoom out for a better look.

Taschenberg 2, 01067 Dresden, Germany

8 Dresden Cathedral in Dresden, Germany

In 1738, Augustus III of Poland and Elector of Saxony (reign 1733 – 1763) commissioned Gaetano Chiaveri to design this magnificent Baroque edifice as the Catholic Court Church. When Katholische Hofkirche was finished in 1751, it was connected to the Royal Place (on the right) by a bridge. In 1964, the landmark was designated as the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. The balustrades are adorned with 78 statues representing rulers, saints, Apostles and biblical figures. The original 11.5 foot sculptures were designed by sculptor Lorenzo Mattielli. The cathedral’s sandstone bell tower on the left is 282 feet tall and crowned with a copper dome. Inside of Katholische Hofkirche are the graves of Augustus III and 48 other members of the Wettin family dynasty, the long-time rulers of Saxony.

Taschenberg 2, 01067 Dresden, Germany

9 Theatre Square Landmarks in Dresden, Germany

Theaterplatz is a large plaza technically on the outer edge of Old Town. It is encircled by several landmarks. They are all worth visiting. Dresden Cathedral and the Royal Palace define the southeast border of Theatre Square. The Zwinger museum and garden creates the western edge. The palatial property was built for Augustus II the Strong in 1728. In the northwest is Semperoper Dresden. The gorgeous opera house has staged world premiers by master composers such as Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. The venue now hosts opera, orchestra and ballet performances. This is Italian Village, located between Theaterplatz and the Elbe River. The name honors the Italian workers and artisans who lived on this spot while constructing Dresden Cathedral in the mid-18th century. Today, the 1913 building by architect Hans Erlwein is a restaurant.

Theaterplatz 3, 01067 Dresden, Germany

10 Courthouse at Palace Square in Dresden, Germany

Backtrack in front of the cathedral toward the Procession of Princes Mural (right) you admired earlier. This is Schloßplatz. Palace Square became the center of Old Town staring in the 15th century. These people are walking in front of the former Sächsische Ständehaus. The Saxon House of Estates was built in 1907 to house the Landtag of the Free State of Saxony. After the Parliament of Saxony moved out in 1933, this became a museum. Since an extensive renovation in the late 1990s, it was renamed Oberlandesgericht. Inside is the Higher Regional Court of Dresden, the equivalent of the Saxony’s Supreme Court. The bronze monument is a tribute to Frederick Augustus I. He was the last Elector of Saxony (1763 – 1806) and then crowned the first king of the Independent Kingdom of Saxony (1806 – 1827).

Schloßpl. 1, 01067 Dresden, Germany

11 Night Statue on Staircase to Brühl’s Terrace in Dresden, Germany

Watch for a staircase in Palace Square below the 164 foot Baroque tower of the courthouse. Make the climb. You will not want to miss what is in store for you at the top: Brühl’s Terrace. Along the way, you will be greeted by a group of statues named Vier Tageszeiten. This means Four Times a Day. The ensemble was created in 1868 by sculptor Johannes Schilling. In the foreground is the allegory for The Night. The woman comforts her resting child while Morpheus, the winged god of sleep and dreams, whispers in her ear.

Schloßplatz, 01067 Dresden, Germany

12 Noon Statue on Staircase to Brühl’s Terrace in Dresden, Germany

At the top of the Brühl’s Terrace stairs behind The Night sculpture is a statuary representing The Noon. The bronze by Johannes Schilling portrays an athletic man holding a harvest in one hand while raising a laurel wreath above his head. The boy on the left reaches up as if grasping for equal success and fame. In contrast, the boy on the right is holding a shovel, indicating his willingness to work hard for his rewards.

Schloßplatz, 01067 Dresden, Germany

13 Brühl’s Terrace is Europe’s Balcony in Dresden, Germany

Brühl’s Terrace is a lovely riverside promenade often praised as the Balcony of Europe. The name stems from Heinrich von Brühl, a highly influential count in the early 18th century. He built a palatial residence, library and garden at this location in 1737. Brühl’s former palace was demolished in 1900. Brühl’s Terrace is extremely popular among tourists and locals. Some favor the picturesque view of the Elber River. Others enjoy the superlative architecture such as the Academy of Fine Arts in the background. Sightseers hop aboard cruise boats docked along the quay. Less active souls prefer sipping a beverage or grabbing a meal at Café Vis-à-Vis, an extension of the Hilton Hotel. The quaint restaurant is housed inside the former Palais der Secondogenitur (Secondary School Palace), originally built in 1897 and rebuilt in 1964. Perhaps the most fun is watching all the people stroll by with smiles on their faces.

An der Frauenkirche 5, 01067 Dresden, Germany

14 Ernst Rietschel Bust on Brühl’s Terrace in Dresden, Germany

About halfway along Brühl’s Terrace you will encounter a bronze bust. This is the likeness of Ernst Friedrich August Rietschel. He was a prolific and influential sculptor of German monuments during the 19th century. The statue was created by Johannes Schilling, the same man who crafted the Four Times a Day ensemble. On the right is the octagonal dome of the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. Locals teasingly call it the Lemon Squeezer. On top is a winged figure blowing a trumpet. This is Pheme from Greek mythology (or the Roman version Fama), the personification of fame and gossip.

Brühlsche Terrasse, 01067 Dresden, Germany

15 New Town from Brühl’s Terrace in Dresden, Germany

From Brühl’s Terrace, you get a great perspective of New Town on the right bank of the Elbe River. Paradoxically, this was the earliest settlement dating back to the 10th century. By 1350, the community was called Altendresden. In 1429, the city was destroyed by the Hussites. A century later, Altendresden merged with and became subservient to Dresden. In 1685, a raging fire devasted most of Altendresden. In 1732 during the rebuilding, it was renamed Neustadt meaning New Town. On the left is the Saxon State Ministry of Culture (Sächsisches Staatsministerium für Kultus). On the right is the Saxon State Chancellery (Sächsische Staatskanzlei), the administrative offices of the prime minister.

Brühlsche Terrasse, 01067 Dresden, Germany

16 Academy of Fine Arts on Brühl’s Terrace in Dresden, Germany

The architectural highlight of Brühl’s Terrace is the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. The art academy was founded in 1764, qualifying as one of the oldest in Europe. Today, HfBK Dresden is a well-respected university specializing in the visual arts for about 650 students. The complex of nine wings was constructed in the late 19th century and flawlessly reconstructed in 2005. Facing the Elbe River are two gilded statues along the roofline. They represent Phantasos (Fantasy), the Greek god of prophetic dreams, and Eros, the Greek god of love. On the right is another look at the Lemon Squeezer dome.

Brühlsche Terrasse 1, 01067 Dresden, Germany

17 Approaching Sundown on Brühl’s Terrace in Dresden, Germany

Most tourist attractions are busiest midday and then thin out before the waning hours of daylight. Not Brühlsche Terrasse. During warm weather, the promenade often gets busiest an hour or so before sundown. Watch as a radiant glow begins to sweep across the Neo-Renaissance façade of the Academy of Arts. You will soon discover names above the second-story windows. They are world-famous artists listed in chronological order from the 5th century BC through the 16th century AD. Included are Pheidias, Iktinos, Praxiteles, Polykleitos, Lysippos, Erwin von Steinbach, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Dürer. Now, grab a seat on a bench before they fill up. The sun is approaching the horizon.

Brühlsche Terrasse 1, 01067 Dresden, Germany

18 Silhouettes of Landmarks from Brühl’s Terrace in Dresden, Germany

Wow! From the staircase leading up to Brühl’s Terrace, the setting sun paints a canvas of silhouettes worthy of any student from the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. From left to right are: the Higher Regional Court of Dresden (Oberlandesgericht), the Noon Statue (one of the Four Times a Day sculptures), the Royal Palace tower (Hausmannsturm), the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (Katholische Hofkirche) and the opera house (Semperoper). Spectacular!

Brühlsche Terrasse, 01067 Dresden, Germany

19 Hot Air Balloon at Sunset from Brühl’s Terrace in Dresden, Germany

When Dresden at dusk can’t possibly get more beautiful, it does. A hot air balloon is released from the right bank in New Town. It slowly gains altitude while drifting over the Elbe River in front of Augustusbrücke, the city’s oldest bridge. The sky becomes a kaleidoscope of swirling colors. Wave back to the people in the basket. Then watch as they drift out of sight toward Old Town. What a magnificent end to a magnificent day in Dresden.

Brühlsche Terrasse, 01067 Dresden, Germany