Next Stop: Dres­den

Where Berlin - - Contents -

Artis­tic bril­liance and a stun­ning land­scape await you in Dres­den. BY ANNABELLE MAL­LIA

Dres­den: a mix of artis­tic splen­dor and ar­chi­tec­tural bril­liance. For cen­turies, this city was home to royal fam­i­lies who filled their res­i­dences with Baroque and Ro­coco art trea­sures from around the world. Elec­tor Au­gus­tus II the Strong (1670–1733) and his suc­ces­sors were also pa­trons of the great com­posers, and turned Dres­den into a world­class city of cul­ture. The con­tro­ver­sial Bri­tish and Amer­i­can bomb­ing of the city to­wards the end of WWII killed ap­prox­i­mately 25,000 and de­stroyed the en­tire cen­ter. The city still bears many wounds, but since re­uni­fi­ca­tion Dres­den has un­der­gone sig­nif­i­cant re­con­struc­tion and, though many attractions are just repli­cas of the pre-war orig­i­nals, the city now shines again in its for­mer glory.

DAZ­ZLING SIGHTS

The his­tor­i­cal city cen­ter, lo­cated on the left bank of the Elbe, has sights aplenty in­ter­twined with old lanes and mag­nif­i­cent Baroque fa­cades. The best-known mu­seum is the Gemälde­ga­lerie Alte Meis­ter (Old Mas­ters Gallery), fea­tur­ing Raphael's Sis­tine Madonna. Ad­join­ing this build­ing is the Zwinger Palace, with its fa­mous golden-crowned gate. Across the road is the Res­i­den­zschloss (Dres­den Cas­tle), hous­ing Ger­many's most valu­able col­lec­tion of ap­plied arts in the Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault). To­wards the river stands the Hofkirche church of the royal house­hold.

All aboard! On a day trip to Dres­den, Annabelle Mal­lia can’t be­lieve it’s taken her so long to visit the charm­ing cap­i­tal of Sax­ony, just 200 km south of Ber­lin.

Au­gus­tus the Strong or­dered the build­ing of the cathe­dral at a time when Dres­den was strictly Protes­tant, aim­ing to es­tab­lish a sym­bol of Ro­man Catholic strength in his quest to be­come king of Poland. In con­trast, the Lutheran Frauenkirche, with its grandiose dome, was built by the cit­i­zens. For a lit­tle ex­cur­sion, take a re­laxed one­hour bike ride along the Elbe to the Pill­nitz Cas­tle and re­coup in the Chi­nois­erie-style abode, just as the Saxon royal fam­ily did each summer.

SHOP­PING GALORE

Dres­den's clas­sic shop­ping street be­gins right out­side the main rail­way sta­tion, stretch­ing along Prager Straße to Wils­druf­fer Straße. The Quartier an der Frauenkirche (www.qf-dres­den.de) mall was part of the city’s re­con­struc­tion plan, of­fer­ing ex­clu­sive shop­ping, culi­nary plea­sures, and lots of space for me­an­der­ing. The nearby Sil­ber­mann (www.sil­ber­mann-fashion.de) has more of a noble tra­di­tion, with its found­ing an­ces­tors named as sup­pli­ers to the Royal Saxon Court, as does Meis­sen (in­side the Quartier an der Frauenkirche, www.meis­sen. com), founded over 300 years ago by Au­gus­tus the Strong him­self as Europe’s first porce­lain man­u­fac­tory but also car­ry­ing fashion, jew­elry, watches, and an­tiques. On the Neustadt side of the river, the Baroque town­houses and ro­man­tic in­ner court­yards along the ex­clu­sive Königstraße boule­vard form a de­light­ful at­mos­phere for el­e­gant bou­tiques and an­tique shops. This quar­ter blends al­most seam­lessly into the more bo­hemian Outer Neustadt district with its trendy shops and the in­ter­est­ingly de­signed Kun­sthof Pas­sage near Alaun­straße – an ab­so­lute must for its art and craft shops.

SCRUMP­TIOUS BITES

From cozy beer gar­dens to el­e­gant gourmet tem­ples, Dres­den has some­thing for ev­ery palate and wal­let. The Alte Meis­ter cafè and res­tau­rant on Theater­platz of­fers creative in­ter­na­tional de­lights be­fit­ting of a mu­seum, whereas the Pul­ver­turm (An der Frauenkirche 12), lo­cated in the for­mer am­mu­ni­tion stor­age in the base­ment of Cosel Palace, fea­tures a more unique, his­tory-rich at­mos­phere. Paulaner’s im Taschen­berg­palais (Taschen­berg 3) is de­scribed as the city’s Bavar­ian em­bassy, dish­ing up clas­sic meals with a ro­man­tic view of the cas­tle from the beer gar­den. This ho­tel also caters a themed Sun­day brunch. More up­scale is Miche­lin-starred bean&bel­uga (www.bean-and­bel­uga.de) at the Sem­per Opera or on the Konz­ert­platz Weißer Hirsch. Gour­mands can even take plea­sure in a not-so-ba­sic burger that comes with foie gras or black truf­fles. The holder of Sax­ony’s sec­ond Miche­lin star is Sterner­estau­rant Carous­sel (Königstr. 14), serv­ing French cui­sine on royal Meis­sen porce­lain. Af­ter din­ner, head to the Cham­pag­ner Lounge by the Frauenkirche (www.the-cham­pagne-lounge.de) for post-meal live soul and jazz.

Frauenkirche Dres­den

Quartier an der Frauenkirche

Sem­per Opera House

Maître d' at work at bean&bel­uga

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