Written by proxam2 on 09 Aug, 2012
We were staying at a hotel just outside Dresden, 30 minutes or so along the autobahn from Bautzen. We had arrived there late afternoon, and after a quick shower decided to nip along the road to see what all the fuss was about.As with most…Read More
We were staying at a hotel just outside Dresden, 30 minutes or so along the autobahn from Bautzen. We had arrived there late afternoon, and after a quick shower decided to nip along the road to see what all the fuss was about.As with most towns and cities, the approaches were instantly forgettable, although some of the towers and spires of the old town were visible on the horizon promising something more appealing than factories and suburban monotony. All this changes as you near the impressive bridge over the young River Spree.The old medieval walls (the town is at least 1000 years old) rise steeply up from the banks of the meandering water and are studded with various watch-towers and look-out points. The town, which sits on a rocky plateau, takes on an almost fairytale appearance with countless Rapunzelesque minarets and turrets thrusting skywards like trees breaking through the forest canopy in search of light.As soon as we had crossed the bridge however, we were soon dumped back in the 21st century with, not so much a thud, as a sigh. Although Bautzen didn't suffer the same level of devastation that most German cites did in 1945, there has still been some insensitive redevelopment. The first thing we encountered was a glitzy and shiny, ultra-modern, shopping mall - not a problem in itself, but when it's plopped in the middle of a medieval old town, with some magnificent baroque architecture for neighbours, it just seems so thoughtless and ill-planned, y'know?Anyhoo, it had a multi-storey car park above it, so it wasn't all downhill...actually, it was very slightly uphill from here to the main square. So that's where we headed.As we were there late afternoon on a Saturday, it wasn't the best time to see any of the museums or attractions that the town has to offer. Probably the main attractions are the Sorbian museum and Folk-theatre. The Sorbians are a Slavonic people with their own language and culture who still inhabit this part of Germany. I would've liked to learn more about them, but them's the breaks.There are also a couple of prisons which date from the communist era of the GDR. These are classified as monuments to the follies of totalitarian regimes, and many people suffered here under the auspices of the Stasi - the GDR's infamous secret police (not exactly secret, as the whole world knew of their existence!).The town also has a city museum, art gallery, and various other attractions.As I said, we didn't really have time, or good timing, to visit anything like that. So what did we do?Well, we had a little look-see in the Dom St. Petri, the cathedral which dominates the old town. There has been a church on this site for a millennium or more, but the present granite building dates from 1497, although much of it was rebuilt after a fire in 1634. It's both a catholic and protestant cathedral. It wasn't the most ornate, or elaborate religious building I've ever been in, but it was still impressive. There was a service going on, so not wishing to disturb or interfere with anyone's beliefs, we didn't hang around long.The cathedral is at the highest point of the town and everything radiates downwards from there. Don't get the idea you need the calf muscles of a mountain goat though, it doesn't get steep until you're at the old walls.We also had a wander through the main shopping streets, although most of those were beginning to shut as well. Still, with the wife in tow (a woman who knows how to flex a credit card till it squeals), that was a blessing in disguise.All the old town is picturesque and atmospheric, but the main streets and squares are particularly stunning. Baroque is the order of the day here, with elaborate rococo facades in a wide variety of pastel shades demanding attention at every turn. The restoration of the town was pretty complete and quite magnificent.Heading down towards the ancient walls, the streets narrow somewhat and take on a more medieval tone. The views from the walls over the Spree valley are impressive, and one can really get a feel for the impregnability of the old fortifications - not that they were impregnable, Bautzen has suffered from many attacks over the centuries, particularly during the Thirty Years War, attacks by Napoleon, and in 1945. having said that, fires have probably played a more significant part in reshaping the town over the years.Just a few steps from the cathedral, at the heart of the old town, is Hauptmarkt which is dominated by the Rathaus or Town Hall, another quite splendid baroque edifice. Originally built in 1213, it was destroyed by fire in 1634 and again in 1704 before taking its present form in the 1730s. Managing to keep smoke-free since then, it's a daffodil-yellow colour with the ubiquitous tower and delicate stonework. Perhaps its crowning glory is the massive sundial on the front of the tower, just below the two clocks - no excuses for tardiness around here.Incidentally, there are a number of sundials on various building around the town, some of them pretty spectacular.Here was where the highlight of our visit was. It being a balmy Saturday evening, the town was gearing up for some al fresco fun in the main square. Stages had been erected, beer tents piped in, and hot food stands abounded.Perfick!There can be few more pleasurable ways to spend an hour or so than soaking up the last dying rays of sunshine in such aesthetically pleasing surroundings - a little atmospheric 'Oompah' music, a foaming glass* of Radeberger Pilsner in one hand, a foot-long bratwurst in another, all the while holding your best girl's hand...wait, I've only got two hands - something had to go. Tough call, but ya gotta eat-n-drink, y'know?* It can still be called a glass even though it's plastic, can't it?In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed my brief, all too brief, visit to Bautzen. If we had arrived a little earlier we might have been able to see a bit more, but what we saw, we liked. Also, if we had been staying in the town, I might have been able to sample a few more beers, but we weren't so I didn't.Bautzen is a stunningly attractive little town with no end of architectural gems and a good deal of history thrown into the mix. Close
Written by marif on 15 Nov, 2004
Dresden's popular love for music and the city's musical traditions are evident everywhere. To some extent, even without attending a formal concert, you can still appreciate the characteristic atmosphere of Dresden's musical scene. A short stroll around Schlossplatz or Theaterplatz on a calm summer evening…Read More
Dresden's popular love for music and the city's musical traditions are evident everywhere. To some extent, even without attending a formal concert, you can still appreciate the characteristic atmosphere of Dresden's musical scene. A short stroll around Schlossplatz or Theaterplatz on a calm summer evening will definitely give you the opportunity to meet clusters of street musicians doing their best to attract the attention of passing crowds. These may include student violinists from Dresden's Music College, jazz performers from the Neue Tonne Jazz Club or even mouth organists who have in some way or another excelled in their field of music. At the foot of the steps which lead up to the Bruhlsche Terrasse, I joined the hundreds who were listening attentively to a live performance given by an opera tenor accompanied by orchestra music from an electric organ. Obviously he was not a Jose Carreras or a Placido Domenigo but his high-pitched voice echoing across Schlossplatz was enough to stir up the atmosphere and give listeners a feel for classical music.
Such street music which frequently fills up the squares and streets of Dresden's most popular areas cannot be compared with the superlative performances regularly given inside the Semper Opera House on Theaterplatz, the Kulturpalast on the Altmarkt or the Operetta theatre along Pirnaer Landstrasse. The Opera House itself is a huge building whose beautiful external architecture mirrors its glorious interior. The theatre or auditorium where performances are held is a stately and imposing place whose elegance and decor few other theatres can match. The celebrated Sachsische Staatskapelle orchestra which dominates the Opera House musical scene is backed up by 450 years of opera history. Since its foundation, it has always been conducted by great composers of the caliber of Heinrich Schutz, Johann Adolph Hasse, Carl-Maria von Weber and Richard Wagner. Don Giovanni, Falstaff, Madame Butterfly, and La Boheme are some of the top operas featured here. They definitely surpass all expectations with regards to orchestra, vocal modulation and theatrical skill.
Equally amusing and aesthetically as pleasing are the concerts organised by the Dresden Philharmonic City Orchestra which sets up frequent first-class musical performances in the main hall of the Kulturpalast Civic centre on the Altmarkt. By no means can the place be compared for elegance with the Semperoper auditorium but those who are attracted by lighter classical music should undoubtedly come here. Popular musical specimens from Strauss and Haydn, Beethoven and Brahms, Stavinsky and Dvorak directed by world-renowned music masters are featured regularly inside the Kulturpalast.
As entertaining as the waltzes and symphonies played by the Philharmonic Orchestra are the operettas presented with style and excellence by the Staatsoperette Dresden inside the theatre at Pirnaer Landstrasse. The atmosphere here is more relaxed and less refined than in the Semper Opera House. However, the hours of entertainment provided by a combination of fine orchestra music, excellent singing, first-class acting and a fully equipped stage are equally pleasing and rewarding.
Besides operas, light classical music and operettas, Dresden is also the right place to be if you are fond of choral or church music. Most prominent in the vocal sphere is the internationally noted Dresden Kreuzchor Boys' Choir. This group of 400 young singers who perform choral parts mostly pertaining to sacred and church music rehearses and performs inside the reconstructed Kreuzkirche located on the southeast edge of the Altmarkt. Be here on a Saturday at 6pm when the choir gives a free grand-scale vesper singing performance accompanied by organ music. Numerous other vocal concerts mostly associated with the church calendar of events are regularly held here. These include A German Requiem by Brahms, Brandenburg Concertos by Bach, Sacred Symphonies by Schutz and Gabrieli, Advent Vespers, Christmas Oratorio, New Year's Eve Organ concert, Easter concert and more. For the benefit of Neustadt residents, some of the Boys' Choir performances are repeated inside the Dreikonigskirche located along the north edge of Hauptstrasse in Neustadt.
The huge crypt under the newly reconstructed Frauenkirche on Neumarkt is also a frequent venue for classical music concerts mostly set apart for string instruments. Souvenir de Florence by Tschaikowski and Goldberg Variations by Bach are two picks of the best string music played here.
Apart from these indoor venues where Dresden's top musicians and singers compete for popularity and esteem, the city's musical scene goes far beyond operas, operettas and choral singing. Every summer, the city becomes one big stage where open-air concerts and music festivals of all sorts are held regularly. One such venue is on Theaterplatz, the huge square in front of the Semper Opera House. Another place whose popularity has recently increased hundredfold is the open-air theatre inside the Zwinger courtyard. Operated by the Landesbuhnen Sachsen theatre company, it provides daily entertainment in June, July and August to satisfy the musical tastes of everyone. Dancing serenades, Baroque concerts, symphony music, light-hearted summer concerts, contemporary music and more are presented here on a temporary floodlit stage. The Zwinger foreshadowing its clearcut image on the stage enhances the atmosphere.
All this is a clear proof that Dresden knows no shortages neither with regards to theatres or open-air summer venues nor with regards to proficient music ensembles. Young musicians are constantly given every encouragement to perform and improve their talent. One thing is certain: whatever the type of music, if it is performed in Dresden, it's definitely of an outstanding standard.
Written by marif on 11 Nov, 2004
Closer to Prague than to Berlin both with regards to distance and to splendour, Dresden is a glorious city that still retains a good number of outstanding Baroque buildings concentrated within a small space bordered from the north by the rounded bend of the River…Read More
Closer to Prague than to Berlin both with regards to distance and to splendour, Dresden is a glorious city that still retains a good number of outstanding Baroque buildings concentrated within a small space bordered from the north by the rounded bend of the River Elbe and from the south by busy Wilsdrufferstrasse. Almost all the things visitors see are post-war reconstructions or restorations since much of Dresden was brought to ruins or heavily damaged in 1945 when World War II was almost over.
Unfortunately, these great reconstructed masterpieces of architecture though less than 60 years old have suffered degeneration from pollution caused by East Germany's heavy industries. In spite of this black shroud which has marred the otherwise impressive and dazzling exterior of the city's fine buildings, people invariably flock to Dresden to admire its sumptuous architecture, cultural heritage, art galleries and invaluable treasures.
To get an orientation of Dresden's most splendid sights and attractions, there's no better way than to walk along Augustusbrucke, a huge bridge that spans the Elbe from the Altstadt south of the river towards Neustadt. If you are based anywhere south of the Elbe, walk northwards over Augustusbrucke and admire from its hanging semi-circular lookout balconies the active scene along the river's north embankment and the clearcut portrait-pretty view of the buildings that line Grosse Meissnerstrasse. If your time in Dresden is limited to a couple of days, don't venture beyond the northernmost end of Augustusbrucke into Neustadt but return over the bridge and feast your eyes on the most picturesque and impressive view Dresden unchangingly offers to visitors.
From the bridge, you can get the best view of the river's south embankment taken over by the Saxon paddle steamer fleet. Moored to the pier when not in service, these ships operated by their original century-old steam engines provide an impressive foreground to Dresden's unique architectural beauties. Hanging over the pier, the Bruhlsche Terrasse is an elevated walkway that appears stunningly pleasant from the bridge on a balmy summer evening. In the background is the huge dome of the Baroque Frauenkirche which has just taken new life after reconstruction. The high building you see constructed right on the south end of Augustusbrucke is the tower of the late Baroque Catholic Cathedral of the Bishopric Dresden-Meissen. Formerly known as the Hofkirche, it is joined via a small ornamental bronze bridge to the Royal Palace whose graceful tower is also visible from Augustusbrucke. The big building across the square from the Royal Palace, seen from the extreme south end of Augustusbrucke is the Semperoper, another glorious reconstructed Renaissance structure that is rightly considered one of the most elegant opera houses in the world.
Once you've formed an indefinite idea of what awaits you, it's advisable to start from Schlossplatz dominated by the Catholic Cathedral, the Royal Palace and the bustling masses of tourists who are trying to find their way towards the steps that lead up to the Bruhlsche Terrasse. You can visit the Cathedral's magnificent interior anytime when there is no worship service, usually between 9am and 5pm. Recitals held on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 11:30am give visitors the opportunity to listen to the tune of the Cathedral's original Silbermann organ. The Royal Palace still in the last phase of an extensive reconstruction and restoration programme houses a good photographic exhibition displaying the various stages of reconstruction.
From Schlossplatz, Augustusstrasse runs east towards Neumarkt. Lined with movable stalls selling commercial souvenirs and postcards, Augustusstrasse boasts a 102 metres long friezed mural made from Meissen ceramic tiles covering a strip of the outer wall of the former Royal Stables. Beautiful, artistic and impressive, this is one of Dresden's highlights that shouldn't be missed. Before walking along Augustusstrasse, go under the atmospheric arched walkway to the meticulously restored Royal Stables where the Verkehrsmuseum displays an interesting exhibition of century-old vehicles, wagons and open carriages.
The east end of Augustusstrasse opens into Neumarkt, a huge square dominated by the recently reconstructed Frauenkirche. An enormous imposing edifice with a majestic dome ringed with four identical square towers, Frauenkirche has been constructed using whenever possible the original material and fragments that were preserved from the debris of war. To get acquainted with the reconstruction project, visit the church's crypt on a one hour free tour; besides a lecture in German, you have the opportunity to view an informative film about the 800 years of the church's documented existence. The church's interior is still inaccessible to the public but you can look through its front temporary glass door to see restoration works in progress. The numerous expensive souvenir shops almost in front of the church along An der Frauenkirche belong to the atmospheric Hilton Hotel.
From here, you can simply proceed east along Topferstrasse towards the Albertinum. Better for atmosphere and for the scenic view is to go back to Schlossplatz and take the 30 steps up to the Bruhlsche Terrasse. This lovely promenade, a frequent venue for musicians and street performers takes on an air of liveliness and festivity in summer. Stroll east along the whole stretch of the promenade until you reach the Albertinum, a huge Baroque structure housing a remarkable art gallery of 19th- and 20th-century paintings. The Green Vault which contains an impressive collection of precious gold objects encrusted with jewels will shortly be transferred from the Albertinum to the Royal Palace.
Back on Schlossplatz, walk west past the Royal Palace towards Theaterplatz. This enormous square adorned with a central equestrian bronze monument is dominated by the majestic building of the Semperoper, a reconstruction that was completed only in 1985. Feast your eyes on its external architecture adorned with statues, columns and an extravagance of sculpted friezes and topped with a lovely four-horse chariot. Don't miss coming here for a night of opera, music or ballet performance which obviously gives you the added opportunity of seeing its glorious interior.
If you continue south along Theaterplatz, you reach steps that lead down to the Zwinger courtyard, a huge open space surrounded by a wealth of symmetrical Baroque buildings whose external magnificence is displayed through intricate ornamental sculptures, statues, balustrades and sweeping staircases. The courtyard itself is a frequent summer venue for light-hearted concerts.
It is however the cache of treasures inside that makes the Zwinger Complex one of the most valuable gems among the artistic collections of the world. Housing six different museums, the Zwinger is definitely Dresden's must-see. The Old Masters' Gallery with works by Giorgione, Titian, Rembrandt, Rubens and their schools is undoubtedly a treasure of artistic works few other world museums can match while the dazzling Porcelain Collection with numerous antique pieces incorporates the finest exhibits from various porcelain manufacturers worldwide. If your time is limited to the extent that you can't see the collections and exhibits inside the museums, it's advisable to take the steps to the roof from where the Zwinger Complex and its courtyard appear even more beautiful.
Written by marif on 19 Nov, 2004
Dresden's most beautiful attractions, churches and museums are concentrated south of the Elbe between Wilsdrufferstrasse and Terrassenufer. Known as the Altstadt, it is considered to be the city's pulsating historic heart and is obviously a must for visitors. However, those who want to get acquainted…Read More
Dresden's most beautiful attractions, churches and museums are concentrated south of the Elbe between Wilsdrufferstrasse and Terrassenufer. Known as the Altstadt, it is considered to be the city's pulsating historic heart and is obviously a must for visitors. However, those who want to get acquainted with all the facets of Dresden's cosmopolitan gem must necessarily discover Neustadt, definitely the city's thriving commercial area and shopping destination.
There's actually nothing new in Dresden's Neustadt but contrary to the Altstadt, it represents everything that is young, modern, fashionable and enthusiastic. Neustadt's atmospheric streets and the buildings within them have just been renovated and restyled but not reconstructed. Mostly untouched by war, they still offer a variety of beautiful architectural styles that invoke a feeling of 18th-century life.
If you're based anywhere around the Altstadt, the best way to visit Neustadt is to walk over Augustusbrucke from Schlossplatz towards Grosse Meissnerstrasse. If you prefer using transport, take Tram 4 or 8 or 9 from any stop along Wilsdrufferstrasse on the north side of the Altmarkt to Neustadter Markt. Once here, you can't miss the fully gilded equestrian statue of August the Strong. Standing on a huge ornate pedestal in the center of the square at the north end of Augustusbrucke, the Goldener Reiter, as it is known, invites visitors for a stroll along pedestrianised Hauptstrasse, a 1km boulevard whose central green area is taken over by a row of plane trees, flowering plants and shrubs. Both sides of Hauptstrasse are lined with an extravagance of small specialty shops and shopping arcades.
Before starting your walk on Hauptstrasse, it is advisable to proceed westwards for about 100 meters along Grosse Meissnerstrasse until you reach the Japanisches Palais on Palaisplatz. This huge building whose external Baroque architecture complements its glorious interior houses three interesting museums: the small but excellent Museum of Saxon Prehistory, the Zoological Museum with numerous natural history collections from the region and the first-class Museum of Ethnology which displays an abundance of artifacts related to early Saxon culture and folklore.
Back on Hauptstrasse, visitors will be surprised by the long chain of small specialty boutiques and souvenir shops that elbow for space along the south end of Hauptstrasse. Mostly catering for individualists, these boutiques offer a wide range of international fashion clothing and designer collections. The souvenir shops are mostly concerned with artistic handicrafts and offer authentic Saxon works made by local artists. The display is so well organized and presented that it will definitely tempt you to buy a couple of preferred items to take back home. Not to be missed are the unique newly opened shopping arcades that have been constructed inside century-old Baroque town houses. Faithfully preserving the old artistic features inside and out, these are now taken over by small craft industries that invite you to look around, enjoy the atmosphere and spend your time and money here.
Halfway along Hauptstrasse, Metzerstrasse is a side street that has been the site of Germany's finest and most romantic market hall since 1899. Known as the Neustadter Markthalle, it is a wonderful three-storey redbrick construction worth visiting even for its unique external architecture. More impressive however is its floodlit vaulted interior decorated with wrought iron railings, staircases and atmospheric lanterns. The wide range of food items on offer includes oven-fresh bread and pastries, top-class meat products, local and international wines and spirits, cheese specialties, dairy products and fresh fruit and vegetables from the region. One of the best shops is Konsum, a leading quality supplier of fresh food and drinks. Equally good are Der Kaskeller which offers a large selection of cheeses and cheese specialties and Weinkontor, a wine cellar stocking over 1,000 different wines and spirits imported from all over the world. Before making your way out of the market hall, be sure to go down to the basement level where a small but interesting display of vintage motor vehicles awaits you.
From the west end of Metzerstrasse, the church you see on the other side of Hauptstrasse is Dreikonigskirche. It is the frequent venue for musical concerts, mostly choral singing by the Kreuzchor Boys' Choir. From here, Hauptstrasse lined with more specialty shops and boutiques runs north towards Albertplatz, a huge square considered to be the center of Dresden's thriving outdoor scene. Decorated with a central evocative marble statue of Schiller, this square whose sides are taken over by two small identical parks with fountains is the ideal place to relax after hours of shopping and sightseeing.
Numerous streets spread out from Albertplatz towards various destinations in Neustadt. One such street that merits a careful inspection is Konigstrasse, an atmospheric street running from Albertplatz towards Palaisplatz. Lined on both sides with small shops and Baroque inner courtyards which have just been restored and restyled to their former glory, Konigstrasse is a unique shopping paradise that caters for all sorts of customers, even the most discerning. There are 15 restored shopping arcades around the whole district of Konigstrasse. Passage Konigstrasse for example, is occupied by a wonderful combination of art galleries, artists' studios and handicraft workshops. More impressive is the Musenhof Shopping Gallery housed inside one of the finest Baroque courtyards in the region. Occupied by specialty boutiques, antique shops and more art galleries, it invites visitors to wander, look around and enjoy. More chic and exquisite than either Passage Konigstrasse or the Musenhof Shopping Gallery is the Prisco Passage, a luxurious and stylish selection of side-by-side shops that offer all sorts of international fashions and elegant home furnishings. Owned by the Italian businessman Arturo Prisco and designed by Kai von Doring within a former petrol storage depot, it caters mostly for those whose tastes are as special as their pockets are deep.
Another street that spreads out from Albertplatz is Bautznerstrasse. Running eastwards along the Outer New City District, this long busy street deserves more than just a quick look. Starting from Albertplatz, the first 200 meters or so is a legendary area taken over by bars, cafés and nightclubs which were constructed within the restored town houses of the district. Considered to be Dresden's most lively night scene, this area is a venue of countless bars that pulsate with entertainment, disco music and cabaret all night long. When the last pubs are closing their doors in the early morning, you can already have breakfast in one of the numerous restaurants in the area.
If you proceed further eastwards along Bautznerstrasse, you will find more leisure establishments, multiplex cinemas, food shops and offices. About 2kms away from Albertplatz, visitors will be surprised to find the world's finest dairy shop. Called Dresdner Molkerei Pfunds, it is a specialty shop that offers the widest range of international cheese products, Meissen wines and Dresden cakes in Germany. More impressive than the display of cheese and milk products is its wonderful two-storey interior covered with hundreds of artistic handmade Meissen ceramic tiles that together form a unique geometric ensemble of great beauty. The 90 seat café-restaurant upstairs offers besides coffee, an unusual assortment of cakes, fruity milk-based drinks and cheese specialties.
Written by marif on 17 Nov, 2004
There's no better way to discover the beauty of the Saxon landscape along the embankments of the river Elbe than to take a day tour on a vintage paddle steamer, either eastwards towards the unique rocky landscape of Saxon Switzerland or westwards towards the wine-growing…Read More
There's no better way to discover the beauty of the Saxon landscape along the embankments of the river Elbe than to take a day tour on a vintage paddle steamer, either eastwards towards the unique rocky landscape of Saxon Switzerland or westwards towards the wine-growing district of Meissen and Diesbar-Seusslitz.
Dresden's pier on the south embankment of the Elbe beneath the famous Bruhlsche Terasse is the right place where delightful trips begin. The paddle steamer fleet comprises 8 century-old wheel steamboats that were so beautifully and faithfully restored as to provide a major attraction even when moored to the pier between Dresden's two central bridges. Powered by original steam engines, they offer a full range of excursions which include full day tours to Meissen, Pirna and beyond, shorter tours to Radebeul and Pillnitz, summer evening tours accompanied by music and entertainment and festival tours to mark a special feast or occasion.
Whichever excursion you choose, a fascinating journey on a side-wheel steamboat combined with the beauty of a captivating shoreline is as unforgettable as the architectural beauty of Saxony's capital. If you opt for the eastbound tour, you will have the opportunity to view some of the most rugged rocky terrain in the area and the sandstone mountain peaks with which nature has adorned Saxon Switzerland. Discover for yourself numerous freestanding sandstone formations that alternate with deep fertile valleys and majestic forested plateau. On reaching the small town of Pillnitz, you will be given time to visit its untouched historic center which is endowed with a graceful church and a wonderful medieval palace. Further southeast, the town of Pirna is also well worth a visit. Not to be missed are the late Gothic monastery church of St. Mary, the local history museum and the famous vineyard terraces which produce some of the best wine in the region. From here, you can continue through the whole stretch of Saxon Switzerland towards the Czech Republic.
Visitors who opt for the westbound trip from Dresden to Meissen will be given the opportunity to explore the regional viticultural traditions that stretch back to the Middle Ages. The first stop along the route is Radebeul, a town that boasts extensive vineyard terraces and a wonderful hilly park topped by the small picturesque Wackerbarth Castle. Some distance further west, the city of Coswig endowed with a small medieval church is surrounded by more vineyard terraces, impressive landscapes and sloping terrain.
The highlight of the westbound tour is definitely the romantic city of Meissen, considered to be Saxony's birthplace. Perched on a hill in Meissen's center is a restored Gothic Cathedral with the remains of Saxon rulers and numerous invaluable works of art. Nearby, Albrechtsburg Castle noted for its interior's ribbed vaulting is a prime example of late Gothic architecture. The city's principal attraction that no visitor should miss however is the State Porcelain Manufactory which besides displaying the world's largest 3 thousand piece collection of Dresden china is the place to be if you want to see the whole interesting process involved in making fine artistic porcelain. Much restoration work is currently in progress throughout the whole city of Meissen and when completed in a few years' time, Meissen's former glory will be clearly evident. End your visit in Meissen by looking quickly around one of the city's inner courtyards or centuries-old arched cellars where probably you will be given the opportunity to taste one or more of Meissen's excellent wine varieties. 'Gold Riesling', 'Muller-Thurgau', and 'Blue Late Burgundy' are all equally aromatic, fruity and rich. From Meissen, you can continue on the steamboat further northwest to Diesbar-Seusslitz, a wine-growing district with an impressive landscape of steeply terraced slopes.
Taking a steamboat excursion is perhaps the most entertaining way to get acquainted with the shoreline landscape along the river Elbe. However, this is not the only viable option. Dresden's sporty visitors who feel fit enough to cycle will find along the stretch of the Elbe from Pirna to Diesbar-Seusslitz an extensive network of marked first-class cycling paths. Cycling eastwards, these paths offer a good panorama of the entire mountain range around Saxon Switzerland while westwards, they provide an equally good scenic route along wine-growing districts. Before embarking on such a cycling tour which rewards you from the start with fantastic views of river meadows and rocky landscapes, buy a cycling map from Dresden's Tourist Office at Pragerstrasse 10. Cyclists are advised to keep to the signposted routes, particularly when travelling across the Elbe sandstone mountains which may have deep fissures and dangerous rock crevices. Besides giving you the chance to enjoy the rewarding sights of the region at leisure, cycling gives you the added benefit of choosing worthwhile stops along the way.
One other option that is however time consuming is to take a bus or train from Dresden to a particular destination and then hike around the area at leisure along marked hiking trails. The small town of Pillnitz east of Dresden for example, has an excellent hiking trail across the mountainous area of Koniglicher Weinberg while Radebeul, 10kms west of Dresden has longer trails which lead further west towards Coswig. The hiking trails south of Diesbar-Seusslitz take you around extensive meadows and enormous vineyard terraces which stretch towards Meissen.
If you have more time to spare, another rewarding option is to travel from Dresden to the small town of Radebeul-Ost from where a narrow-gauge old-timer train goes uphill amidst steep vineyard terraces before passing over a dam through a romantic valley towards the town of Moritzburg. It continues through an impressive scenic route before reaching the bigger town of Radebeul from where you can travel back easily by bus to Dresden.
Written by Judy on 26 Dec, 2000
Our visit to this magnificent fortress took place during the last week of August and included snow and freezing cold weather. Nevertheless, we found this a very interesting monument to the past. Towering over the Elbe River and the surrounding valley you can imagine the…Read More
Our visit to this magnificent fortress took place during the last week of August and included snow and freezing cold weather. Nevertheless, we found this a very interesting monument to the past. Towering over the Elbe River and the surrounding valley you can imagine the strategic importance of it's location. Inside you'll find many displays of German military history. Many wars have been fought over this land and you can travel back in time as you tour through the wonderful exhibits.
We took a walk along the wall surrounding the complex and marveled at the skill of the artichitects. It's truely an amazing place.
This was the former summer residence of the Saxon court. Today it is an arts and crafts museum. The beautiful parks are worth a visit. One section of the grounds shows off the rigid artistic patterns of the Baroque period and another is an…Read More
This was the former summer residence of the Saxon court. Today it is an arts and crafts museum. The beautiful parks are worth a visit. One section of the grounds shows off the rigid artistic patterns of the Baroque period and another is an English landscape garden. The setting of Pillnitz is lovely with the Elbe River flowing nearby and the lovely vinyards on the surrounding hills.
During the month of August, Pillnitz hosts the Open Air Festival featuring classical music. Nearby you'll find Weinbergkirche which was built in the 18thC.
This palace, comprised of four wings, was built in the late 15th century. It was originally a fortress castle and was upgraded to a residential palace by August the Strong. It was rebuilt after a fire in 1701 and because it was totally destroyed in…Read More
This palace, comprised of four wings, was built in the late 15th century. It was originally a fortress castle and was upgraded to a residential palace by August the Strong. It was rebuilt after a fire in 1701 and because it was totally destroyed in WW11, reconstruction re-commenced in 1989 and is still in progress. The main tower of the palace provided an excellent view of Dresden. The rebuilding will surely take several more years as the project is huge. Close
Originally designed by Pöpplemann as an orangery and a setting for court festivities, this 18th century building now is used for exhibitions. The architecture is Late Baroque. The many sculptures and ornate facade along with the beautiful grounds provide a wonderful backdrop for several…Read More
Originally designed by Pöpplemann as an orangery and a setting for court festivities, this 18th century building now is used for exhibitions. The architecture is Late Baroque. The many sculptures and ornate facade along with the beautiful grounds provide a wonderful backdrop for several historical museums. The Italian Renaissance Semper Gallery was completed in 1855. The Saxon State Old Masters Picture Gallery contains work from 15C to 18C by Italian, Dutch, Flemish, Spanish and German painters. There is also a wonderful collection of Meissen and Oriental porcelain. Historical clocks and scientific instruments can be viewed at the Physical-Mathematical Saloon, and the Collection of Armour and Weaponry has a wonderful display of armour, weapons, riding and hunting gear from the princes who ruled over Saxony 800 years ago. Close
This magnificent 19th Century High Renaissance style building was destroyed in 1945 then restored and re-opened in 1985. The Dresden Philharmonic and the Dresden Opera Company perform here. It's a lovely building with a huge statue of Kind John on horseback in the center…Read More
This magnificent 19th Century High Renaissance style building was destroyed in 1945 then restored and re-opened in 1985. The Dresden Philharmonic and the Dresden Opera Company perform here. It's a lovely building with a huge statue of Kind John on horseback in the center of the square.
Guided tours: DM8,00