During my trip to Poland, for the World Youth Day, I’ve had the chance to visit one of the most amazing city in Germany, Dresden. I only had 24h to explore this city before taking the bus off to Wroclaw. So I put on my sneakers and made sure I got to see and do as much as possible in Dresden in those 24h.
The former capital of Saxony, Dresden truly came into its own during the Baroque period—and as a result, remains one of Europe’s most stunning architectural treasures. 24 hours in the city doesn’t give you enough time to explore every thing there is to see, but if you are short on time (like I was) here’s 5 must-seen places to visit.
Hofkirche: As we were on a Pilgrimage we had the chance to have a special mass (in German) in the Dresden Cathedral (or Katholische Hofkirche). This is a unique combination of Roman and baroque architecture. The altarpiece is the work of Anton Raffael Mengs (1751), while the rococo pulpit is the work of Balthaar Permoser (1722). The Silbermann organ, with its 3,000 organ-pipes, was removed in 1944, avoiding destruction during the air raids of 1945.
The sarcophagi of the Wettin rulers lie in the cathedral’s crypt. While the body of King Augustus II, “August the Strong,” is buried beside the Polish kings in the cathedral of Kraków, his heart is kept in a copper case underneath the Hofkirche. Legend has it that whenever a beautiful woman goes by, his heart begins to beat again…
Frauenkirche: This is Germany’s most important Lutheran church. Erected between 1726 and 1743, its dome (called the “stone bell” because of its shape) collapsed on February 15, 1945, after the air raids. During GDR (DDR) times, the church was left in ruins. After reunification, reconstruction began as a symbol of reconciliation. The reconstruction was financed with donations from German and international foundations. The reconstructed church was finally inaugurated on October 30, 2005, a full sixty years after the war.
Fürstenzug: This is a gigantic mural (102 metres / 334 feet-long) located on the outer wall of the Stallhof of Dresden Castle. Every ruler of Saxony from 1123 to 1904 is displayed in a sweeping, beautiful porcelain-mural. It is made out of 24,000 tiles of Meissen porcelain. Originally, the mural was a painting by Wilhelm Walter, who painted it between 1872-76. By 1900, cracks had appeared in the painting, so it was copied piece by piece in Meissen tiles. Today it is the largest porcelain picture in the world.
Zwinger: This is one of Dresden’s most famous buildings. It owes its name to its location on the former city fortifications. It was built between 1709 and 1732, and is another of the many buildings erected under Augustus II. The Zwinger houses the famous Alte Meister art gallery, which comprises a 16thC art collection from Frederick August I and II. The collection features paintings by Holbein, Rubens, Tizian, Veronese, Velázquez and Correggio.
The most famous works in the gallery are Rembrandt’s Self-portrait with Saskia, Peter Paul Ruben’s Bathseba am Springbrunnen and Albrecht Dürer’s Bildnis des Berhard von Reesen. Another building on the grounds of the Zwinger is the city pavilion, also called the Glockenspielpavillon on account of the bells made out of Meissen porcelain, which were added in 1936. This pavilion houses a porcelain collection, considered the most important of its kind in the world.
Semperoper: The building was built in the “Dresden-Baroque” style of architecture. Above the portal, there is a panther quadriga—or drawn chariot—as well as a statue of Dionysos. Other monuments depict famous artists such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, William Shakespeare, Sophocles, Molière and Euripides. In the years before the World Wars, the Semperoper premiered many of the works of Richard Strauss. In 1945, during the final weeks of World War II, the building was destroyed again—this time by Allied bombing. Exactly 40 years later, on February 13, 1985 the opera house was rebuilt, true to its predecessor. It reopened with Weber’s Der Freischütz, the same opera that was performed before the Semperoper’s demise. During the flood of the Elbe in 2002 the building suffered heavy water damage. With substantial help from around the world, it reopened in December 2002.
I wish I had more time to visit, I feel like Dresden has a so much more to discover. I definitely wish to go back there in a near future. Have you visited Dresden or are you planning to? What are your favourite place to visit in the city? Let me know in the comments section down below!
Love, Helene Xx