15 Best Places to Visit in Dresden

History You Can See and Touch – that’s what awaits you on a Dresden holiday. The state capital of the Free State of Saxony is an absolutely thrilling destination for anyone who wishes to delve into German history while witnessing magnificent sights. Official documents attest to Dresden’s existence shortly after 1200 AD, and its remarkable buildings featuring various architectural styles also testify to its long and vibrant history.

What sets Dresden apart is not only the blend of modern and historically significant buildings, impressive architecture, and an array of museums but also the chance to explore its many highlights on foot, making sightseeing in Dresden a genuine adventure. Walking through the city unveils more than just the conventional attractions. Modern art and culture blend seamlessly with the historical ambiance of this Baroque city, inviting you on a journey through different epochs in the stunning east of Germany.

1- Frauenkirche Dresden

The Frauenkirche, a testament to the city’s fascinating and poignant history, dates back to the 18th century. Reconstructed since 1994 following its wartime demolition, the church now stands as a “symbol of reconciliation”. It is nestled within Dresden’s Neumarkt, a bustling square that, alongside the church, forms the old town’s core. The Frauenkirche hosts church services, baptisms, and weddings and is open for visits daily, with the climb to its viewing platform offering spectacular views.

2- Dresden Neustadt

Despite its name, the Neustadt, or “New Town,” boasts historical edifices as old as the old town itself. It comprises the Inner and Outer Neustadt, each with its unique allure. The Inner Neustadt features numerous Baroque buildings, particularly in the Königstraße district. Unlike the old town, many of these Baroque structures were left untouched by war. The Neustädter Markt, the heart of the Inner Neustadt, has been a marketplace for centuries and houses the city’s most renowned monument, the Golden Rider, commemorating August the Strong. The Outer Neustadt, known for its alternative vibe, is dense with bars, pubs, restaurants, and cafes, making it a lively nightlife hub. It also thrives culturally, with numerous cultural institutions and artisan shops.

3- Catholic Court Church

Another Baroque gem, the Catholic Court Church, completed in 1755, stands in the old town. Adorned with 74 saint statues on its roof overlooking Dresden, the church was rebuilt post-World War II and reopened in 1955. Today, it not only hosts services but also welcomes visitors, showcasing its marble, high altar, and 49 elector tombs. As part of the Dresden-Meißen diocese, it ranks among the Saxon capital’s tallest structures.

4- Dresden Semperoper

The Semperoper, especially resplendent at night, enthralls around 300,000 visitors annually with operas, ballets, and symphony concerts. The State Opera of Saxony, which assumed its present form in 1878, has been a venue for performances since 1667, with Johann Adolph Hasse, elevating Dresden to a leading opera metropolis. The opera house’s blend of Renaissance, neo-Baroque, and Corinthian styles marks it as one of the city’s architectural treasures.

5- Dresden Striezelmarkt

Attracting over 2 million visitors each year, the Dresden Striezelmarkt is among the world’s oldest Christmas markets and the oldest recorded one in Germany. Evolving from a modest meat market, it now celebrates its 589th year with traditional mulled wine, Christmas cookies, choir music, and the world’s tallest Erzgebirge step pyramid at nearly 15 meters, among over 200 stands offering Saxon handicrafts.

6- Brühl’s Terrace

Situated in the old town, Brühl’s Terrace, or the “Balcony of Europe,” traces back to the 16th century as part of the Dresden Fortress. Named after Heinrich von Brühl, it offers a glimpse into life centuries ago with its monuments, historical gardens, museums, and buildings. The Xperience Fortress beneath it provides a multimedia historical journey.

7- Dresden Zwinger

The Zwinger, a complex of architecturally and historically significant buildings and gardens, originates from the fortress’s medieval segment. Having evolved from the 12th century, today’s Zwinger stands as a unique architectural masterpiece, hosting events and housing crucial museums, such as the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister. The Zwinger Xperience offers an immersive look into its Baroque construction history.

8- Green Vault

The Green Vault showcases an astounding collection of European jewels and treasures, divided between the historic and new Green Vault. Visitors can marvel at 3,000 treasures across various exhibition rooms, including the Amber Cabinet and the Jewel or Ivory Room, enhanced by an audio guide tour.

9- Dresden Princely Procession

A public artwork that epitomizes a form of 19th-century street art spans over 100 meters and, with more than 20,000 tiles, stands as the world’s largest porcelain mural. It immortalizes 34 Saxon rulers from the House of Wettin, spanning from 1127 to 1873, along with 59 other figures, horses, and dogs. This piece continues to adorn Auguststrasse in Dresden’s old town today, attracting admiration from numerous visitors daily.

Good to Know: The original artwork, created in 1872 using a plaster scratch technique, failed to endure the elements, leading to its restoration a few years later with tiles made from the renowned Meissen porcelain. Remarkably, the tiles survived the Second World War with minimal damage. Only a few were restored in the early 1980s, preserving their grandeur ever since.

10- Blue Wonder

Eager to witness Dresden’s Blue Wonder? The Loschwitz Bridge, unlike the previously mentioned grand structures, emerged from the Second World War intact. Initially, this bridge was constructed to link Blasewitz and Loschwitz without obstructing the shipping channel. However, after over a century, attention is needed to ensure its preservation, as some components have aged to the point where the tram service previously crossing the bridge has been discontinued.

Holiday Guru Tip: Given Dresden’s walkable nature, we recommend cycling to the Blue Wonder. This also offers a chance to explore the city’s scenic bike paths.

11- Dresden Residential Palace

Among Dresden’s treasures, the Renaissance Residential Palace did not escape the war’s ravages unscathed. Recently reconstructed, the palace has long stood as one of the city’s pivotal structures, now housing five significant museums, including the Green Vault. Beyond its art collections and exhibits, the palace fascinates with its blend of architectural styles and the influence of various rulers, contributing to its unique splendor.

12- Old Masters Picture Gallery

Art enthusiasts will find a treasure in the Old Masters Picture Gallery, nestled within the Dresden Zwinger. This expansive complex houses an array of magnificent artworks by prominent European painters from the 15th to the 18th centuries, featuring masterpieces like Raphael’s Sistine Madonna and Rembrandt’s “Ganymede in the Claws of the Eagle.” As part of the Dresden State Art Collections, it ranks among the most celebrated international painting collections.

Holiday Guru Tip: The gallery’s continually changing exhibitions ensure that repeat visits remain engaging.

13- Military History Museum

The Military History Museum of the Bundeswehr ranks among the most significant historical museums in Germany and Europe. Its permanent exhibition delves into the nature of wars, their occurrence, and aftermath, aiming to provoke thoughtful reflection on historical events. Following a renovation by architect Daniel Libeskind, the museum reopened in 2011 with a design that integrates a wedge symbolizing the bomb attacks on Dresden and the institution’s contemporary conceptual approach.

14- Elbe Castles Dresden

Nestled amidst verdant nature on Dresden’s Elbe slopes are three majestic structures, the Elbe Castles. These include Albrechtsberg Castle, Lingner Castle, and Eckberg Castle. Visitors enchanted by Dresden’s urban architectural marvels should venture to these castles to explore their gardens and palatial complexes. Built in 1850, Albrechtsberg Palace, with its Prussian-classical style, diverges from Dresden’s predominant architectural themes. The estate’s park, with its water features, is also a must-see.

Lingner Castle, architecturally akin to Albrechtsberg Castle and once known as Villa Stockhausen, came into Karl August Lingner’s possession in 1906, with his mausoleum located within the castle park. Eckberg Castle, the trio’s final member, showcases neo-Gothic design and has operated as a luxury hotel since 1985, thus it’s not open for interior tours. However, its exterior alone is worth the visit.

15- Excursion Destination Dresden Elbland

The Dresden Elbland, extending from Pirna through the Saxon state capital to Torgau, offers more than just the urban charm of Dresden. This picturesque region is ideal for active vacations, featuring the 90-kilometer Saxon Wine Trail and the parallel Elbe Cycle Route. These paths wind past stunning vineyards and quaint villages, with the charming city of Meißen as a particular highlight. Known globally for Meissen porcelain, the city also boasts scenic streets, Albrechtsburg Castle, Meissen Cathedral, and the Frauenkirche.

Holiday Guru Tip: Fans of the classic film “Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella” should not miss a visit to Moritzburg Castle during their Dresden Elbland tour. The castle, a magnificent former hunting lodge of the Duke of Saxony, is set on an island in a large pond and ranks among Germany’s most beautiful castles. It also served as a key filming location for the beloved Christmas movie.

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