A few months ago, I was just like you. When I thought of the town of Dresden, black and white images of devastation from the TV documentary ‘A World at War,’ filled my mind. But I recently met Professor Dr. Gregor J. M. Weber, who worked at the Alte Meister Gallery in Dresden and he extolled the artistic and architectural beauties of this beguiling city. Christmas approaching, I booked a flight with small but friendly and efficient, Darwin Airlines.
During my research for the trip I discovered, oh joy of joys, that one of my favourite Tales From Europe was filmed at Moritzburg Castle, just a short bus ride from Dresden. Three Gifts for Cinderella has always stayed in my memory, associated with halcyon days of childhood; I suspect because Cinderella had a horse and she liked hunting and jumping in the forest! She was pretty handy with a bow and arrow too. A sort of seventies Katniss Everdeen…
We stayed in the Baroque Quarter which is a desirable neighbourhood in Dresden Neustadt on the banks of the River Elbe. Our apartment was on the fourth floor and we enjoyed wonderful sunrises and sunsets over Dresden’s skyline. Neustadt was burnt down in the 17th century, was rebuilt and has since been known since as the New Town although in fact it’s older than the Old Town, if you get my drift.
You can’t go far in the city without coming across the former ruler of Saxony, Augustus the Strong. How shall we put it – Augustus was a little bit fond of himself and enjoyed spending lavishly on art and porcelain. Augustus the Strong and his successors with their skill, artistry and determination filled the Grüne Gewölbe (Green Vault) and Türckische Cammer (Turkish Chamber) with treasures from all over the world, collected paintings and porcelain, and were patrons of the great composers. No wonder then that Dresden today ranks as a world-class city of art and culture.
The main sights are; The Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche), Royal Palace, Zwinger, Semper Opera House, Elbe castles, Villa Quarter, Hellerau garden city – not forgetting the ‘Blue Wonder’ bridge to the east of the city centre, so named because it survived the bombardment.
Although Dresden is a big city (big as Manchester in UK) it’s very tranquil and calm. Even amongst the crowds of tourists on the Christmas markets I didn’t feel rushed or harassed; neither did my husband and he has a low threshold for the crush of shoppers. Public transport is cheap and easy to use. Eating out is also considerably cheaper there, as are wine and food in the supermarkets. Make it a New Year’s resolution, go visit this marvellous city and banish those war-ravaged images from your head. A weekend is not really long enough, four or five nights would be ideal.