Dresden, the capital of the German state of Saxony, is a beautiful and fabled city of wealth and power and well worth a city-break to see!. On 25 November 2019, two strikingly petite thieves forced open a small grating and broke the glass to enter the Green Vault Museum in Dresden Germany then smashed a safety glass cabinet to steal more than €1,000,000,000 in diamond jewellery. This brazen act brought Dresden back into the limelight to which it should never have left.
The city, beautifully sited on the River Elbe, is the fabled seat of the Electors of Saxony. The Electors were powerful rulers who were responsible for electing the Holy Roman Emperor from amongst their group, an office that traces its lineage back to Charlemagne in the 8th Century CE. Developed extensively by Augustus the Strong who lived from 12 May 1670 until 1 February 1733, Dresden became known as the “Jewel Box” because of the expensive artwork, treasures and beautiful Baroque architecture with which Augustus the Strong endowed the city. Dresden became a centre of art and culture under Augustus who also became the King of Poland and Lithuania. When he died, his kingdom included Warsaw and his body was buried in Krakow even though his heart was returned to be buried in Dresden.
If you fly into Dresden, you will arrive at Dresden Flughafen, the international airport located just to the northwest of the city. You can also arrive by rail from all over Europe because Dresden is a regional hub for rail. There is an excellent public transport system that links trains with trams that operate extensively throughout the city. Taxis and rideshares are extensively available so there really is no reason to have your own car in Dresden.
Here’s a Pro-tip: there is plentiful parking around the old town because of recent development. However, with such an excellent public transport system, you don’t really need a car to see the area.
The Jewel Box has absolutely wonderful sites to see. Here are my favourites:
- Probably the most exciting complex of museums within Dresden is the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collection) which is one of the most important museum complexes in the world. The complex includes twelve museums but my favourites are:
- – Gemäldegalerie Alte Master (Old Master’s Gallery) – this museum has an impressive collection of some of the most beautiful renaissance artwork in the world including the Sistine Madonna of Raphael.
- – Grünes Gewölbe (The Green Vault) – which houses the treasures of Augustus the Strong and his descendants. This is where the thieves stole the €1 Billion in jewels that were only a small fraction of the collection!
- – Rüstkammer (Armoury) – this exciting collection shows weapons and armour from the Middle Ages through the 19th
- The Saxon State Opera – this company descends from the former Electors and Kings of Saxony and performs hauntingly beautiful pieces from its founding in 1667.
- Dresden Castle – this seat of the royal household from 1485 shows many different architectural styles and is a one-of-kind place for understanding Dresden’s turbulent past.
- The Striezelmarkt – this is one of the largest Christmas markets in Germany and is a real seasonal treat!
- The Bunte Republik Neustadt – this is one of the biggest events on the Dresden calendar. A three-day festival held in June each year, bands, concerts and exhibitions are all free to enjoy along with wonderful street food.
- The Grober Garten – this Baroque garden in central Dresden includes the Dresden Zoo and the Dresden Botanical Garden
- Genuss-Atelier: this wonderful Michelin-star restaurant serves wonderful local recipes within a beautiful establishment with perfect service!
- Restaurant Moritz: try to sit on the roof terrace of this excellent restaurant because it offers a fabulous view of the Frauenkirche. This Michelin-starred venue offers an innovative take of traditional European fare.
- Mamma Mia: sometimes nothing hits the spot like a good Italian pasta. This restaurant is my favourite Italian in Dresden and it is reasonably priced.
The city enjoys wonderful and relaxing nightspots. It’s not pretentious, so the dress code is casual and the atmosphere is casual. Here are fun places that I enjoy visiting:
- Karl May Bar – this is one of the most popular bars in the city because its mixologists are excellent and the bar is relaxed and welcoming.
- Purple Magic Shisha Bar – this fun concept-bar is a great place to enjoy a shisha with friends while relaxing
- Whisky & Genuus Dresden – this cool location offers an excellent whisky selection in a vibrant and cool environment.
Dresden has very comfortable and modern hotels due to its recent rebirth after reunification. While most hotel chains offer great rooms and all the amenities, I prefer places with more locals that feel a little different. Here are my favorites:
- Hyperion Hotel Dresden AM Schloss – This five-star hotel is beautiful and offers impeccable service. Cozy and unpretentious, this is a fabulous place to stay.
- Relais & Chateaux Bulow Palais: This hotel has impressive architecture in a palace that will make you feel like royalty.
- Penck Hotel Dresden – this modern and stylish hotel offer wonderful service in a convenient location close to everything.
Dresden is a wonderful and exciting location for a city-break. Enjoy this beautiful city that kings and electors found so comfortable!