If you’ve heard of Dresden even at all, you’ll most probably know this city through its connection with World War II. Similar to Coventry in England, this small city located around two hours away from Berlin was almost completely destroyed by English aircraft bombings. And whilst these particular bombs rained down on the city of Dresden, one of Germany’s most beautiful cities was almost entirely eradicated within a matter of days. Yet what appears most surprising when arriving in Dresden today is that, rather than being welcomed by an unappealing, desolate city, Dresden has actually fast restored itself to one of the prettiest cities in Germany – a hidden gem, you might call it.
The city of Dresden is split into two parts – Altstadt (old town) and Neustadt (new town) – each part situated on either side of the river Elbe that flows through the heart of the city. Even just by walking around Dresden’s Altstadt (old town), the city’s dramatic reformation to its former beauty is undeniable. Buildings such as the Semperoper – Dresden’s opera house, the Hofkirche and the Frauenkirche can all be easily found when walking around the city’s most touristic area.
Likewise, the Zwinger Palace is located just on the outskirts of Altstadt, where a small clock accompanied by several differently-sized porcelain bells, produced in Meissen, Europe’s first porcelain factory, play a unique and extremely quaint chiming sequence on the strike of every hour.
Whilst Altstadt features splashes of traditional baroque architecture upon every corner, Neustadt offers rather quirky and intriguingly strange alternatives. Neustadt is known best for its vast selection of clubs and bars, one of these such bars, named Barneby, offers a surprising twist on the classic idea of a bar, however. In this particular bar you can enjoy a glass of traditional German beer whilst playing an enormous selection of board games – almost sounds like a perfect evening, right? An outdoors bar with a campfire, Irish pubs, and a bar, amply named Little Creatures featuring a wall filled with names of TV and film’s little creatures, are just a few of the endless supply of bars.
Neustadt, aside from being Dresden’s main place to spend a relaxed evening, offers a few rather unique places that are definitely worth seeing. One of the most interesting places I would recommend to visit in this part of Dresden would be the Dresdner Pfunds Molkerei, which is a cheese shop that features a traditional dairy parlour interior. Dripping from floor to ceiling in emerald and blue mosaic tiles this place is certainly worth seeing, even if only once. Hidden amongst the narrow streets of Neustadt, a passage named Kunsthof-Passage best depicts Neustadt’s quirky and quaint persona. An artistic take on the classic drainpipe system makes this place one of Dresden’s most interesting places to see, even more so in the rain – the drainpipes make an array of interesting sounds as the rain pours through them.
If by chance you are left with a spare afternoon to fill whilst visiting this city, Großer Garten in Dresden is the place to be. A large open park offers a relaxed and peaceful walk. Likewise, only thirty minutes away on the train lie some of the most tremendous views you may well ever come across. Tucked away deep within the sandstone cliff faces of the Säsische Schweiz (Saxon Switzerland) is a vast array of rock faces known as the Bastei. After a train journey and a small boat trip across the river Elbe, winding paths and stairs lead you up to some of the most incredible views points, with views spanning across the entire Säsische Schweiz. A four hundred year old fortress (Königstein) is also located here, with views as equally incredible. If, like me, you’re a traveller that loves exploring and hiking, this is most definitely the place for you.