Welcome to Dresden!

A panorama named after a painter...

... is something only very few cities can boast. Dresden is one of them: The famous Canaletto view from the right bank of the Elbe reveals the “city skyline with its fine, dignified spires”, as Erich Kästner described it. Ever since Bernardo Bellotto, known as Canaletto, eternalised this perspective in oil in 1748, Dresden’s reputation as “the Florence of the Elbe” has been set in stone.  

It’s not just the imposing baroque buildings like the Frauenkirche, Zwinger and Semperoper that has seen Dresden rank among Germany’s most visited cities. Dresden is a masterpiece of baroque architecture – both original and reconstructed. The magnificent historic structures rebuilt after reunification have created a completely new old city centre that enchants many visitors. What truly make the city unique, however, are its high concentration of artistic treasures collected during the baroque period. In an exciting contrast to the revitalised old town, the new town is located on the left bank of the Elbe as a lively alternative district filled with pubs and art galleries.

Dresden´s miracle

A unique "symbol of victory and reconciliation following war and destruction" was how Dresden’s Frauenkirche was celebrated at its reopening on 30 October 2005. Many visitors consider it a world-class masterpiece of architecture, and the most prominent Protestant place of worship in Germany. Inspired by the mighty domed buildings of Rome and Florence, master builder George Bähr began what would end up being no less than 17 years of work on the new Frauenkirche, a monumental structure for its time. Visible from afar, it towers over every other building in the city, emphasising the original Saxon princes’ pride and desire for prestige.

For more than 200 years, the baroque building delighted the faithful and the art-minded – until that harrowing bombing raid on the night of 13 February 1945, when all life in Dresden’s inner city was extinguished. The place where the Frauenkirche once stood was now a grey desert with a giant mountain of rubble. Only two remaining stumps of the old church building continued to rise up – “praying hands”, as some Christians called them; a “memorial of peace”, as they were officially referred to during GDR times.

Just two weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall, experts and interested parties gathered to quickly seize the moment and plan a reconstruction. Almost 8,400 sandstone blocks were recovered, checked, measured and catalogued, and more than 3,600 of them were still usable: a masterstroke of logistics. Most of the costs were covered by donations from all over the world, so it really can be said that the Frauenkirche has been built by citizens for citizens. And these citizens have received the greatest of rewards – “Dresden’s miracle”.

Dresden produces more than just Dresdner Stollen fruit loaves...

... it also produces the Original Eierschecke egg custard cake. As Dresden writer Erich Kästner once said: “The Eierschecke is a type of cake which remains unknown to the rest of the world – much to the detriment of humanity.” So if there’s one cake that typifies Dresden, it’s got to be the beloved Eierschecke!

It was created on the farms in the surrounding area, where the farmers’ wives were looking for a delicious dessert with which they could surprise their guests at family gatherings, or their families themselves on the weekend after a tough week of work. It needed to be a very special cake that they could bake all year round. The women exchanged ideas and gave each other tips, refining the recipe with every bake. Despite this, a number of variations continue to exist to this day – many families indeed guard their recipe like a secret treasure! But there’s one thing all Dresden Eierschecken have in common: They have three layers. The base is made of yeast dough, the middle layer is a curd-cheese and vanilla pudding with butter, egg, sugar and milk, and the top layer is conjured up out of creamed egg yolk, butter, sugar and vanilla pudding, with frothy egg white then folded in.

And a piece of Dresden Eierschecke just wouldn’t be right without a nice “Scheelchen Heessen” (coffee), because then it tastes even better...

Augustus the Strong - The great elector

It is an undisputed fact that no one has achieved more fame in relation to Dresden than Augustus II the Strong. Unlike his counterpart Frederick the Great in neighbouring Prussia, whose main source of edification came from holding endless military exercises, Frederick Augustus developed a sense of fine art from an early age. He was heavily inspired by the French court, and also led a debaucherous, ostentatious lifestyle. The elector was a particularly passionate collector of artistic treasures, and a visit to the treasury at Dresden Castle, the Green Vault or the Picture Gallery will confirm this. But the young elector was also a megalomaniac. He went to tremendous effort to weasel his way to the vacant Polish crown, paying a handsome sum of bribe money and secretly converting to Catholicism, which proved problematic, given that Saxony was an important bastion of the Lutheran faith. But the ruler was happy to bear the outrage for the all-important moment when he was crowned King of Poland on 15 September 1697.

His title of “The Strong” was no coincidence. Frederick Augustus loved proving his physical condition during tests of strength, and his ability to bend a horseshoe with his bare hands has become the stuff of legends. Hunting was another of the elector’s great passions – in the Moritzburg forests and on the smooth floors of the Dresden Court. And Augustus’ penchant for baroque styles wasn’t just limited to the architecture of the Saxon royal residence; a number of ladies-in-waiting are said to have succumbed to the elector’s charm. Legend has it that he in fact fathered an unfathomable 364 children in total.

Art for as far as the eye can see.

What began in the 16th century with the universal collections of Saxon electors in the treasury of the Royal Palace, and acquired its present-day uniqueness more than a century later through Augustus the Strong and then his son Augustus III, is now among the world’s largest and oldest museum associations. Along with Paris’ Louvre, New York’s Metropolitan Museum, the Vatican Museum, Berlin’s Museum Island, and St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum, the Dresden State Art Collections are one of the most prominent museums on the planet. Their 14 establishments are home to some 1.5 million artworks – from paintings, graphic design and sculptures, to jewellery, furniture, weapons and porcelain, to folk art and ethnography.

Of particular note here are undoubtedly the New Green Vault and the Historic Green Vault, one of Europe’s largest treasuries. Both are located at the Royal Palace, and collectively house more than 4000 breathtaking treasures crafted by artisans out of gold, silver, gemstones and other precious materials. Visitors can also enjoy the Old Masters Picture Gallery in the Zwinger, whose pieces by prominent painters amazed the likes of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe himself, and today attract guests from all over the world. Totalling some 750 masterpieces, the collection focuses partly on Italian Renaissance paintings, featuring works by well-known artists like Raphael, Titian and Botticelli, including of course Raphael’s world-famous Sistine Madonna.

We look forward to welcoming you to Dresden!

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