The beauty of Dresden reawakens
Updated: Oct 21
Did it ever happen to you to visit a city where in the past, you have only passed there on the way to somewhere else? when you see it, you wonder how come you missed it. You want to give it all your attention, as it deserves. You are overwhelmed by what you discover.
That is how precisely I felt when I arrived in Dresden in Saxony, East of Germany. The last city I visited in Germany, at the end of July.
Passing through Dresden, I went by bus from Berlin to Prague previous times before. This journey, I didn't aim to visit Prague, but I wanted to concentrate on the sightseeing of Dresden.
Prager Street is the first large street that welcomes you when you get out from the central train station.
It grasps the typical soviet block architecture design that was popular,after the World War 2, especially in East Germany.
It is very agreeable to walk down this large boulevard with many cafés, shops and trees on both sides. It leads you effortlessly to the beautiful old town.
"When I was younger, there weren't at all these refined, colourful buildings in the old town center. " told me a local, when I expressed my enthousiasme, seeing the picturesque square.
The reconstruction of the old city is so remarkable that it is almost hard to believe that it wasn't always like that.
Dresden, which on 13 of February 1945, was ravaged and ruined by the bombs, had to conform itself to a new shape of architecture. It couldn't give up its colossal - imperial identity, and with time, the city has taken back what was belonged to it.
It was rather cloudy and slightly rainy. So it was pleasant to start the afternoon by sitting inside the elegant, old style Café COSELPLAiS. It has a large choice of cakes. I tried the culinary specialty of Dresden: the eierschecke, which is a light version of the famous cheesecake. I loved the taste of it and the place's atmosphere.
In the evening, I went with the tram, a few stations from the old town center to the Neustadt - The new town, a quarter that I didn't somehow expect to find in an old, established city as Dresden . It's curious how we sometimes have misconceptions of a city.
Dresden showed me its alternative, arty soul.
Walking in Alaun street, many pubs, restaurants, evoked
the trendy quarter of Kreuzberg in Berlin or Oberkampf in Paris
They are the right mixture between roughness and hip, without neglecting some ironic urban humor.
I had my veggie bio dinner at the restaurant Lila Soße that I highly recommend. it has a lovely courtyard and a great atmosphere. It is animated as calm at the same time.
I was wandering in the streets of the Neustadt. They revealed the creative mood of the inhabitants. The original decoration of a façade of a building as intimate courtyards with diverting graffitis on the walls, showed me that Dresden is not at all a classic, conservative city but rather dynamic and fashionable.
In the morning, a shiny blue sky was a promise for a beautiful day. I went to explore the old baroque heart of Dresden.
Augustus the strong governor of Dresden in the 18th century, had a superior taste, influenced by the Italian style of architecture. He collaborated with a very talented artist. The architect Matthaus Daniel Poppelmann, who designed the palatial complex.
The golden kingdom sparkles from afar.
When you are at the courtyard surrounded by that beauty: the gardens, the fountains, the majestic Opera, the museums, you nearly forget the fact that Dresden was heavily damaged. The place is a hymn to the Baroque splendor.
I started first with the "virtual" -multimedia exhibition Zwinger Xperience. It allowed me to travel back in time and to experience the Zwinger as it was authentically.
Oranges and lemons were growing profusely in the gardens of the palace. Augustus the strong was bewitched not only by diamonds and porcelain but also by the symbol of the Mediterranean fruit. It is very understandable as oranges brought warmth and light to the cold East of Europe.
The virtual multimedia experience was so "real" that I searched vainly the oranges trees when I was back in the courtyard.
There were a few excellent museums to visit, and I had only two days in this lovely city. So I focused on the Museum, " The old master's pictures gallery."
I could tell you that it has beautiful enormous works of art collections from Raphael to Titian. This museum is charged with so many prestigious drawings and sculptures. One moment was captured in my camera when I was down at the staircase, that will tell you more than words about the light and aura that this museum prospers.
Exploring Dresden is pretty easy as the service of trams and buses is very efficient. There is also the option of a tourist bus "hop-on, hop-off." I got off near the blue wonder bridge. It was a fine weather, and walking on it, gave me the panoramic view over the river Elbe and the valley on the other side with elegant, gorgeous villas. I also spotted a nice restaurant by the bank of the river that makes you want to go in and sit on the balcony spending a few hours there with that landscape.
Wandering all along the Elbe River is enjoyable. Especially when it's a nice weather, it makes you realize how broad Dresden is. The sights never stop to surprise you ,as monuments and statues appeared all along the excursion.
I arrived to the Japanese palace. I didn't enter inside but was contented to sit in the relaxing garden ornamented with statues and plants.
The sun kept sending its soothing rays.
At night I returned to the Neustadt. Second night, I appreciated even more the contrast between the old style of Architecture and the modern and rugged one in the alternative quarter.
It was also lovely to walk back, and not using the tram to the Neumarkt (the center of town). At night, lights are shining over the monuments. The walking was pretty easy.
I noticed gleaming in the darkness, the giant golden statue-Goldner Reiter- of the sovereign Augustus the strong, sitting in an heroic pose on his horse.
It looked kind of similar to the golden sculpture of Joan of Arc at Pyramide square in Paris.
Last day in Dresden, I continued my excursion and went to the astonishingly rebuilt church the Frauenkirche- church of our lady. It was one of the symbols of the glorious times of Dresden in the 18th century, with its refined baroque style. It was destroyed in the World War 2 .It took years of reconstruction till it opened finally again to the public in 2005.
In a short walking distance, I reached the new synagogue. It carries another emotional story.
It was rebuilt in the same place as the old one in the 18th century- the Semper synagogue. (which was known as the Dresden synagogue). Designed and built by the same architect of the Semper Opera- Gottfried Semper.
The firefighters released the gold-plated Star of David from the burning synagogue in 1938 on the Christal night. They took it to the central fire station. Later the fireman Alfred Neugebauer managed to hide it in an attic. In 1949 he gave it back to the chairman of the Jewish Community, Leon Lowenkopf. It was replaced in the same place as it used to be, on the roof top,
On my way to the center, I perceived a beautiful fountain, a romantic garden. It was a sunny after noon. I wanted to sit on a bench in front of the river Elbe and contemplate quietly the scenery.
Dresden has undoubtedly left me with many impressions pieced together.
It is a magnificent city, which was descending into sleep during the tough years after the World War 2, but woke up after its restoration, healed and revitalized, manifesting its incontestable beauty.
Text and Photos
Where to stay
I was in the Almeida Plaza hotel, right in the historical center, It was a perfect location. A very good hotel with high standards