Germany is such a diverse country and each time I visit a new region I’m surprised with what I discover. While each region shares a similar culture, history and cuisine, they are different enough to make each place unique and interesting. Some cities are more unique than others and Dresden stands out to me as somewhere like no other in Germany.
I was in Dresden in December and was expecting bitterly cold temperatures and snow but instead the weather was sunny and mild. It was unusual for that time of the year but it gave me the opportunity to spend hours each day walking and exploring the city. Here are 7 great things I discovered about Dresden while I was there.
1. Dresden has been completely rebuilt
The Allied bombardment of Dresden in the final days of WWII completely destroyed the city and killed at least 25,000 civilians. That was followed by decades of communist rule so I wasn’t expecting too much in terms of architecture. Fortunately though, much of the old town has been rebuilt in its original style and structures like the beautiful Frauenkirche stand once again.
2. The Balcony of Europe
Brühl’s Terrace is an elevated area along the Elbe known as the Balcony of Europe. It’s a great place to walk and admire the scenery and the paddle steamers located below.
3. Meissen Porcelain
While porcelain gets a bit of a bad rap for being old fashioned, the famous Meissen porcelain is now being produced in more modern designs. Unfortunately it’s a little out of my budget but the incredible porcelain painting on the side of the Furstenzug is completely free to admire.
4. Food at the Christmas Markets
Dresden has the oldest Christmas market in the world and in my experience the best Christmas market food. I was travelling solo in Dresden so it was nice to be able to snack on fresh and healthy (sometimes) street food instead of having to eat alone in a restaurant.
5. The Stunning City Skyline
The rebuilding of the city is best appreciated in the stunning city skyline. The New Synagogue, Frauenkirche, Hofkirche and the Semperoper are all located along the Elbe and make for a beautiful sight, especially when lit up at night. This view is from my room at the Hotel Am Terrassenufer which you can read more about here.
6. The New Green Vault
Dresden has some fascinating museums but the one which really blew my mind was the New Green Vault at the Residenzschloss. There you can see a cherry pit which is said to have 185 faces carved on it. I can’t imagine why someone would do that but kudos to them. There are gold and ivory statues with the Royal Household at Delhi being one of the most elaborate.
You can also get a close up look at the Dresden Green Diamond which is 41 carats (!) and flawless. It is green in colour because it was exposed to natural radiation.
Unfortunately it’s not possible to take photos in the museum so it’s difficult to show how amazing it is but I think it’s worth visiting Dresden for this museum alone. I have never seen anything like the intricate and elaborate statues and ornaments found there.
7. Coffee and Cake
The afternoon tradition of stopping for coffee and cake is well respected in Dresden. I enjoyed a cake break at the famous Grand Cafe Coselpalais, just next to the Frauenkirche. The baroque style building was rebuilt and completed in 2000 and they are once again serving traditional food and desserts on beautiful Meissen porcelain tableware.
I spent most of my time walking around Dresden but also did a hop on hop off bus tour which was great for seeing sights a bit further out of the centre and to keep warm when it started to get a little chilly.
It seems like each time I visit a new city in Germany, that city becomes my favourite. Cologne, Munich and Berlin have all been my favourite German cities at one time or another but now it’s most definitely Dresden, a city which deserves more attention than it gets.