Sightseeing in Dresden
Most of Dresden’s tourist sights are concentrated in a small area on the outer bank of a wide curve in the River Elbe. The best view is afforded by crossing the Elbe on the Augustus Bridge from Neustadt. (It is worth repeating the crossing at different times of the day as well as at night to appreciate the different lighting conditions.) Viewed from the bridge, right to left, are the Semper Opera, the Zwinger, the Hofkirche and George Gate of the Schloss, the Brühl Terrace with the Art Academy, the newly rebuilt Frauenkirche and finally the Albertinum.
Semperoper (Semper Opera House)
The Semperoper (Semper Opera House), situated on Theaterplatz (Theater Square), is one of the best-known and most loved buildings in Dresden, which manages to dominate Theater Square despite the immediate presence of the Zwinger, Schloss and Hofkirche. This is somewhat ironic... See more
Augustus the Strong planned an Orangery but his talented architect Matthäus Pöppelmann gave him a Baroque masterpiece of galleries, arcades and pavilions instead. The resulting Zwinger became a glorious pavilion for entertainment purposes and a highlight of any visit to Dresden. It never served as a residence and it was never intended as such... See more
Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister
Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery) is the largest gallery in the Zwinger and by far the most impressive museum in Dresden and all of Saxony. Despite losing 206 works during World War II, and having most of the collection detour to Russia for a decade, it remains one of the richest archives of European paintings of the 15th to 18th century... See more
The Porzellansammlung (Porcelain Collection) is the second major museum in the Zwinger. The collection was started by Augustus the Strong in 1717. He intended to convert the Japanese Palace in Dresden-Neustadt to display his Asian porcelain collection, which comprised more than 14,500 pieces... See more
The Rüstkammer (Armory) is one of the world’s best collections of parade weapons and costumes. It contains over 1,300 pieces displaying the pageantry of the Dresden court, knights’ tournaments, and hunting... See more
The Residenzschloss (Residence Castle) is one of the most important examples of Renaissance architecture in Germany. Although its history goes back to the 13th century, most of the castle dates from the 16th century. It was mainly left in ruins after the destruction of 1945 but reconstruction was recently completed and several museums moved back into the castle during 2004... See more
In between the Elbe and Schloss is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Trinitatis (formerly and still commonly known as the Hofkirche or Court Church), the largest church in Saxony and the last major Baroque work in Europe. The Reformation started in Saxony and it was one of the first states formally to accept Lutheranism as official religion... See more
The Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), Neumarkt, is the true symbol and pride of Dresden. It is a High Baroque masterpiece designed by George Bähr, showing the first signs of the pending Classical revival. The foundations were laid in 1726 but the church was not completed until 1742. It is 95 m (311 feet) high and is built of Saxon sandstone... See more
The Albertinum is located two blocks ffrom Frauenkirche, past the enormous Police Presidium, on the banks of the Elbe. This former arsenal was converted in 1884 to a magnificent four-wing Neo-Renaissance museum. In 2004, it lost some of its main draws, including the Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault collection of jewelry and goldsmith art), to the renovated Schloss, but the remaining two galleries are still worth a visit and displays will expand into the newly available space.
Brühlsche Terasse affords fantastic views of the Elbe and the neighborhood of Neustadt on the opposite bank when journeying to the Hofkirche from the Albertinum. It is especially atmospheric in the early evening when most of the buildings are lit up. Goethe called it the “Balcony of Europe”... See more
Augustusbrücke (August Bridge)
One of the most pleasant walks in Dresden is crossing the Elbe on the Augustusbrücke (August Bridge). The bridge offers the most magnificent views of the Baroque panorama that made Dresden famous. The crossing is especially pleasant at night when the buildings are lit in different colors. A stone bridge was built across the Elbe at this location as far back as 1275 but the current bridge follows the 1731 designs of Pöppelmann.
The Dresden suburb of Neustadt is situated on the right bank of the Elbe. It suffered less war damage and, although it has few major sights, it does have pleasant Baroque, Neo-Classical, and Gründerzeit neighborhoods. Hauptstraße leads from the 1736 gilded, oversized equestrian statue of Augustus the Strong at the end of the bridge to Albertplatz. It is lined with shops, the courtyards and passages on the left-hand side being particularly favored by artists and with intimate bars and cafés... See more
Großer Garten Area
The Großer Garten, a large English-style garden, lies largely to the east of the Old Town. Its history dates back to 1676 but the current layout is late 19th century. It is a favored place of relaxation and includes a zoo, botanical garden, open-air stage, and a pleasure palace.
German Hygiene Museum
Across the road from the main entrance to the park is the German Hygiene Museum, Lignerplatz 1. It was founded in 1911 by the manufacturer of Odol mouthwash and has serious scientific displays on human biology, medical progress, and a healthy lifestyle. Many displays are hands-on and popular with children as well.
Gläserne Manifaktur, (Transparent Factory)
In a corner of the park is one of Dresden’s prestige investment projects, the Gläserne Manifaktur, (Transparent Factory), Lennéstraße 1. In this glass cube some 800 workers produce Volkswagen’s prestige car, the Phaeton. Customers taking delivery of their new vehicles have priority on the tours, which must be reserved in advance.
To the south of Dresden along the Elbe is the Schloss Pillnitz (Pillnitz Palace). It was the summer residence of the Saxon court. The River and Hillside Palaces were completed in 1722. It currently houses the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) and is open May to October, daily from 10 am to 6 pm. Admission is €3. A major attraction in the garden is an over 200-year-old camellia.