Next Stop: Dresden
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.
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.
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.
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.