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About Dresden

Founded on the site of a Slavonic fishing village as a merchants' settlement and the seat of the local rulers, Dresden was from the 15th century onwards residence of the Saxon dukes, electoral princes and later kings.
The city has experienced both splendid eras and times of tragedy. It was above all during the 18th century a magnificent centre of European politics, culture and economic development, only to become a synonym for apocalyptic destruction just two centuries later.
Today Dresden carries visitors away with a synthesis of the arts: fascinating buildings and art treasures, impressive museums, as well as orchestras and choirs of worldwide reputation.

On the left bank of the Elbe is Dresden's historical centre with buildings from the Renaissance, the Baroque and the 19th century. Despite being devastated in the Second World War, the Altstadt (Old Town) has kept or regained its attractive buildings.

The most well-known symbol of the rebuilding of the city centre is Dresden Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), the magnificent domed Baroque church which again dominates the Dresden skyline.
Since October, 30th 2005 the steeple of the Frauenkirche overtops the Dresden skyline again. The reconstruction of the Frauenkirche is an impressive symbol of international reconciliation after World War II. The consecration attracted attention throughout the world. Millions of people have already visited the Frauenkirche.
The sacred building was erected between 1726 and 1743, following the designs of George Bähr. Its characteristic dome, called the "stone bell" owing to its shape, collapsed on February 15th, 1945 under the rain of bombs. An anti-war monument during the GDR period, the rebuilding is finished now.
The Frauenkirche is a symbol of conciliation, largely with donations from German and international foundations. The Neumarkt quarter around the church is also to regain its status as the historical heart of the city.

The Neumarkt Square, probably the best-known square in Dresden’s downtown, is being reconstructed gradually, following its former opulent Baroque design. The goal of the new buildings is to recreate the historic structures.
The Neumarkt area has only been part of Dresden since 1548. The square developed its structure and its particular charm during the Renaissance, characterized by the typical gabled houses. In subsequent years the square changed very little, but it did bear witness to numerous political conflicts, such as the revolutionary street battles in May 1849 and the destructive attacks of World War II. The ruins of the Frauenkirche and its surrounding area remained untouched for many years, acting as a memorial.
The dedication of the Frauenkirche on October 30, 2005 breathed new life into the Neumarkt. Since then, numerous historic quarters have been renovated, combining elements of the traditional and the modern

Dresden’s Semper Opera House is the most famous opera house in Germany; it houses the Saxon State Orchestra, one of the world’s oldest and best-known orchestras. Built by Gottfried Semper between 1838 and 1841, the Semper Opera House was closed in August 1944 and was destroyed six months later by the Allied air attacks.
Its reconstruction was a long time coming. Until 1985, Dresden residents were forced to do without their famous edifice. The ceremonial rededication took place on February 13, 1985, exactly 40 years after its destruction. The first performance was "Der Freischütz" by Carl Maria von Weber. The "Dresdener Festtage" in February and March 2010 commemorated the opening of the Semper Opera House by establishing the Dresden Peace Prize; it was awarded to Mikhail Gorbachev. The Semper Opera Ball is also closely associated with the Opera House; the Ball takes place every January.

In the Zwinger Palace are located the Old Masters Picture Gallery, the Porcelain Collection and the Museum of Mathematics and Physics.
Built 1710-28 by the architect Pöppelmann in cooperation with the sculptor Permoser. Originally designed as an orangery and a setting for court festivities, it was later used for exhibitions. Most perfect example of Late Baroque architecture in Germany. Construction of the Semper Gallery 1847-55.

50 museums, 60 galleries and 36 theatres and stages – a true pleasure for the emotions and intellect alike, and ideal day and evening programmes for every taste and mood.
World-famous attractions are the Old Masters Picture Gallery with Raphael’s “Sistine Madonna”, the former royal treasure collection, the Green Vault and the Albertinum as a museum of contemporary art from the 19th to 21st centuries.

The attractions around Dresden line up like pearls on a string: With its vineyards and wine taverns, Radebeul is often reminiscent of more Southern realms.
In Moritzburg, visitors flock to the Baroque palace on the island of an artificial lake, while Meissen has gained world acclaim as the home of European porcelain.
To the south-east of Dresden, we find exquisitely laid-out Baroque gardens in Gross-Sedlitz and the rather capricious architecture of Weesenstein Castle.
The town of Pirna, with its “flower manor” Zuschendorf is the gateway to the Saxon Switzerland, a bizarre world of rocks and gorges.
A majestic panorama can be enjoyed from the Bastei viewpoint, and includes also Königstein Fortress, the largest fortified castle in Germany.
The Erzgebirge mountains belong on everyone’s Christmastime programme. The home of traditional wood-carving art is then bathed in the most beautiful seasonal lights.

Copyright: Text modified

Review 2017

Review 2016