#TGOTMInterrail17 City Guides Germany

Interrail 17: Half a Day in Dresden

January 21, 2018

It was soon time to leave Wrocław and after an early start we were aboard the train which would take us across the border into Germany. Our first stop of the day was to be Dresden, one of my favourite German cities due to its elegant architecture and warm, welcoming atmosphere. The city, located on the banks of the river Elbe has one of Germany’s most striking silhouettes. It is not one of skyscrapers and modern masterpieces, but instead baroque beauties including the Zwinger and the city castle. I was excited to revisit this remarkable city; capital of Saxony and home to former royal residences often described as some of the most impressive buildings in Europe. Dresden has also been given the title the ‘Jewel Box’ because of its baroque and rococo styled city-centre, most of which has been reconstructed after the destruction of WWII. With just half a day in Dresden, there was plenty to see..

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The journey from Wrocław took the best part of four hours and took us through the peaceful Polish countryside towards the border town of Zgorzelec – Görlitz. It was then a further hour on the train until eventually we arrived on the outskirts of Dresden.

Our previous visit, four years ago, had inspired further exploration, so on arrival we stashed our bags in a luggage locker at the station, crossed the concourse and began our walk down Prager Straße towards the historic centre. The 1 km long pedestrian plaza is the main thoroughfare for locals and visitors alike, bordered on both sides by hotels, restaurants and shops and even at 10am was already buzzing with human traffic. With the time just after half-past-ten and the sun already high in the sky we decided to stop off at Karstadt for Kaffee und Kuchen, to cool down and study the map.

We were soon back out in the sunshine and crossing Altmarkt, home to the renowned Striezelmarkt (Christmas market). Another five minutes of walking brought us to Neumarkt, the culturally significant centre of Dresden’s inner city, and site of the Frauenkirche, crowned with its 96-m high dome (die Steinerne Glocke or “Stone Bell”). It is amazing to think that what stands today is a reconstruction and was only completed back in 2005!

After a few photos of the church, the surroundings and the statue of Martin Luther, we decided to move on towards the river, as the crowds were getting ever larger and the temperatures ever higher. History was all about us, the Albertinum to the right, now a modern art museum, the Brühlische Terrasse in front, part of earlier fortifications, and to the left, Fürstenzug and Stallhof Johanneum. Brühlische Terrasse or Brühl’s Terrace is nicknamed ‘The Balcony of Europe’ and stretches for some distance along the Elbe’s river frontage, providing visitors with an ideal promenade for both locals and tourists; for walking, sitting and people watching. Across the river and in the distance stood the statue of the Goldener Reiter (golden rider) a monument to August the Strong, king of Poland and Elector of Saxony, which shone and sparkled in the bright sunshine.

Passing through the Brühlische Gasse we reached the river and from there turned west towards the Schlossplatz and the Hofkirche. Leading up from Schlossplatz were steps leading up to the western end of Brühl’s Terrace with four sculptures (two at the top and two at the bottom) – the ‘Four times of day’ (die vier Tageszeiten) – which offered an ideal platform from which to photograph the Hofkirche and its surroundings.

There was so much to take in, as just across the road was the Semperoper and next door the Zwinger Palace, Dresden’s most famous landmark.

After an extensive wander around the balconies of Zwinger, taking in the view from every direction, we descended the stairway in the Rampart Pavilion to reach the gardens below.

Our journey back to the centre took us past the Residenz Schloss, the Hausmannturm as far as the Georgenbau or Georgentor, an elegant Renaissance-style city gate, part of the royal palace. Passing through the archway, we entered the Stallhof (Johanneum) – the stable block – which had on one side the Langer Gang, a long arcade open structure, with white-painted columns. The columns support the elegant structure, decorated with hunting trophies and coats of arms. As we exited the Johanneum onto Augustusstrasse, we were able to look back on another remarkable sight, a large porcelain mural known as the Fürstenzug or Procession of Princes (earlier rulers of Saxony).

We were conscious that our time in Dresden was limited so we left the grandeur of the royal palace behind, walked along Augustusstrasse and back to the Altmarkt. It was lunchtime and we had promised ourselves a meal in Vapiano’s, so it was a case of best foot forward, mouths salivating, to our self-appointed restaurant of the day.

After a quick but tasty meal it was time to return to the station, collect our luggage and wave Dresden goodbye. Thankfully we did not have a long onward journey as we were bound for Leipzig, roughly one hour away. Dresden had once again provided plenty to see and having now visited twice during the summer months, I have decided next time I will plan in a winter visit to see how the city transforms with its Christmas markets and maybe some snow!

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Tell me, have you visited Dresden before? Have I missed anything that I need to see on a return visit? Do let me know in the comments below. Love V x

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