Between the 17th and 19th century, Dresden – capital of the Federal State of Saxony – was known as the “Florence on the Elbe River” due to its enormous architectural and artistic wealth. Heavy bombing devastated the city during WWII and the restoration of the many historical buildings lasted until today.
Dresden offers attractions in great variety, from stunning architecture, world-famous art collections, living traditions in music and the fine arts to the beautiful scenery along the Elbe River. A V-shaped curve of the river divides the city into the “Altstadt” on the left (southern) banks with the famous Dresden Zwinger, the Frauenkirche Church, Semper Opera House, the Royal Palace as well as many other historical monuments and, on the right (northern) banks of the river, the also old “Neustadt” with its bohemian feel. The Old City is likewise the centre of city life, with the Saxon State Parliament and the town hall. Around the Altmarkt square and Prager Strasse shopping centres and restaurants can be found.
The Semper Opera House on the Theaterplatz, built in late Renaissance style, was opened in 1841, damaged in WWII and re-opened in 1985. Many works of famous composers such as Wagner or Strauss premiered in this most beautiful theatre building of the 19th century.
This famous Baroque palace for royal festivals was built in 1728. It stands close to the Semper Opera House.
The Frauenkirche, built between 1726 and 1743 in Baroque style, is Dresden’s major landmark and dominates the city centre. It was totally destroyed during WWII . Rebuilding of Germany’s biggest Protestant church with its enormous cupola only began after reunification in 1992. The exterior cupola, known as the “stone bell”, will be completed in time for Dresden’s 800th anniversary celebrations in 2006.
The Elbe Meadows
The course of the Elbe river is lined with broad meadows. They reach right into the city centre and offer locals and visitors recreation and relaxation. On warm summer nights the Elbe meadows are a popular meeting place for barbecues, chatting, flirting and making music. The meadows are also used as festival premises. In the summertime, the Dresden Film Nights offer open-air cinema against the backdrop of the illuminated historical silhouette of Dresden’s city centre. Straight across the meadows, always following the course of the river, the Elbe Cycle Route currently leads for 260 kilometres from the Old City part of Dresden to the Czech border and downstream to the city of Meissen. Along the river many beer- and wine-gardens and restaurants invite you to take a rest. Upstream, the Elbe slopes extend for many kilometres with vineyards, castles and majestic villas.