Dresden – Florence of the Elbe
Its idyllic location and beautiful baroque architecture make Dresden a truly wonderful city, often referred to as the Florence of the Elbe. As its nickname suggests, the city is situated by the Elbe River, in a lovely valley very close to the border with the Czech Republic. It is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. After the country’s reunification in 1990 it gradually became an important center for culture, politics, economy and education.
Dresden was for a long time the seat of power in Saxony, representing the home of many electors and kings. Their royal presence attracted an important cultural and artistic input that helped the city flourish and eventually gain the affectionate title of “Jewel Box”, mostly justified by the Baroque and Rococo architecture in the city center.
Unfortunately, this exact area in Dresden was heavily damaged during aerial bombing towards the end of World War II. The tragic event was followed by decades of urban development and careful reconstruction of the most important landmarks, so now the city is again a flourishing center of beauty and tourist attractions.
Among the restored buildings there is the imposing Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche), which boasts one of the largest domes in Europe. The original building was erected in the 18th century, and after it was destroyed in 1945, its ruins were left unchanged for many years as an anti-war memorial with a powerful visual impact. It was only in the early 2000s that the church was reconstructed, becoming a symbol of reconciliation between former enemies. The Frauenkirche also represents an excellent example of Protestant sacred architecture, it being a Lutheran church.
While the original church was still under construction, another one was commissioned by Frederick Augustus II, who wanted to counterbalance the Protestant movement and the message of the Church of Our Lady by building a catholic cathedral. Thus the Catholic Church of the Royal Court of Saxony (Katholische Hofkirche) was born. It was designed by Gaetano Chiaveri and also destroyed in 1945. Just one look at its magnificent architecture and you will know why it could not be left in ruins. Carefully restored in the mid-1980s, it is now one of the city’s most important attractions.
Another important building in the historic city center is the beautiful Semperoper near the Elbe. It is the official home of the Saxon State Opera and Orchestra, as well as the Semperoper ballet. Its name comes from its maker, architect Gottfried Semper, who built it in 1841. Numerous important premieres have taken place here, including remarkable works of Strauss and Wagner.
If you have time for one more visit before leaving, you should head towards the Dresden Castle, which is one of the oldest buildings in the city, dating back to the 16th century. For almost four centuries it was the seat of Saxon power, and today it holds a very interesting museum. It often impresses tourists with its eclectic architectural style, its influences ranging from Baroque to Neo Renaissance.
- Must try: Café Kreutzkamm, a lovely place to drink a good coffee. It dates back to 1825.
- Luxury accommodation in Dresden can be enjoyed at An der Frauenkirche Hotel, Swissotel Dresden Am Schloss, Relais & Chateaux Hotel Bülow Palais, and others.