We really enjoyed visiting Dresden. It is the capitol city of the German state of Saxony and it’s complex history remains a focus of it’s incredible city center. We decided to drive to Dresden from Würzburg.  It is 370km on the Autobahn, about a 3-hr drive.


History of Dresden
For centuries Dresden was royal ground.  Augustus der Starke “Augustus II the Strong” and his son developed Dresden from a medieval city to a regal one  —  their legacy is mainly art, architecture, opera, and porcelain — the defining elements that we see today.  Saxony became a free state in 1918.

WWII: It is the unfortunate events of the 20thC that are most familiar. Near the end of the war Dresden was the target of a two-day saturation bombing by US/British bombers and was nearly reduced to ash. Criticism remains, in regard to the intensity of explosives used and devastating impact to a civilian population, without (at the time) a military presence.

GDR era: Dresden was a strong industrial city in the GDR (former East Germany) and the city recovered and reconstructed during this time— some with the original building plans. To de-emphasize the city’s bourgeois history, leaders elected to bulldoze a portion of destroyed palaces and churches– We passed through a corridor of GDR era infrastructure on the way to the hotel.

Since Reunification, revitalization has picked up.  Frauenkirche was completed in 2005. Restoration of the Neumarkt and Zwinger Orangerie are currently underway.


Friday Afternoon

Innere Altstadt “Inner Old Town”

Our first stop in Dresden was the Innere Altstadt, a 10-minute walk from our hotel.  We stopped for lunch at Cafe Aha and shared a table with an Austrian college student on spring break.  She suggested that we walk the city at night. We (Derek and I) both agreed that day-or-night Dresden’s Altstadt, with it’s dark Baroque-style buildings along the Elbe River, was especially beautiful.  It is not easy to translate the sensory experience of Dresden, but I will say that there is equally a liveliness to this part of the city and a quiet depth — which may be why it is so compelling.



We stepped into Frauenkirche “Church of our Lady”.  Missing from the Dresden skyline for 60-years, the rebuilding of this 18th century cathedral was community driven, and holds a special meaning to many residents. Afterwards, we spent an hour in the late afternoon soaking up the Zwinger. You can see those posts here and here.


Inner Neustadt “Inner New Town”

At the end of the day, we crossed the river into the Inner Neustadt (meaning Inner New Town) neighborhood.  We stopped to snap a pic of Goldener Reiter (below) and headed toward the Aussere Neustadt (meaning outer New Town), just as the nightlife in the area was picking up–


Äußere Neustadt “Outer New Town”

The first thing we noticed was the contrast to the ornamental Altstadt.  Aussere Nuestadt was a punk-style paradise.  We stopped at the cross of Louisenstrasse and Alaunstrasse where people were sitting on curbs, drinking, smoking, and partying (in the chill way that most Germans do).   Aussere Neustadt had an attitude that felt authentic.  While areas around the center have become the focus of urban renewal, this neighborhood is mostly alternative: A high concentration of bars, street food, layers of graffiti– and off the main streets, boarded up buildings.

We found our first craft beer store in Germany! And decided to walk the neighborhood for a while (actually I had a really gross blackberry cider, bad choice). Then we grabbed a late dinner at Curry & Co. customized curry wurst! They won the national currywurst competition a couple years ago. We stopped in a couple more bars and made our way home.   I learned a new term from Derek: “Ostalgie”, nostalgic symbols of the GDR, The crosswalk light above is an example!



Next post: Dresden, Cont..



“Ostalgie”, Symbols of Nostalgia for East Germany

 Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut’s semi-autobiographical account of the Dresden Bombings, for the readers


(Click to enlarge)




Saturday 11am

We had a laid-back agenda for Saturday, and our first stop was Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery) to see Dresden’s collection of masterpieces.

Next, we stepped into Kruezkirche “Church of the Holy Cross”. This church was in the Altmarkt “Old Market” (Frauenkirche was in the Neumarkt) and has been modified many times; It has burned down 5x since it was built in 1168! In the most recent renovation, the building was kept intentionally spare.  I wish my photos had turned out better, but a there are a few below that show this incredible space, a great synthesis between Baroque and 60s modern.





Saturday 5pm

The rain picked up on Saturday afternoon, just as we were walking to the Aussere Neustadt.  We detoured past the Yenidze, (below) a cigarette factory in the 1900s— toward the Elbe River Banks, which it turns out, aside from having the best views, is where the fun is at.  We saw some guys chilling their beer in one of the fountains, good idea!

Next, warm coffee under the overhang at Cafe Continental. We were tempted over to the Kunstofpassage (literally, art passage), a courtyard of buildings decorated by artists with quirky shops, etc. Perhaps the most known is the musical building that plays when it rains!  Possibly just in theory, we determined!




Finally, Astronautalis!
Derek spotted a concert poster that MN hip hop artist Astronautalis would be in Dresden the following weekend. Small world. It seems he likes to travel and is a pretty good travel writer! He is blogging while performing on his European tour.  It got us listening to some of his music.  Read  about Astronautalis’ adventures in Prague or watch a video of him riding around the Czech Republic on a motorcycle and drinking a beer!



Well, that is our trip.  Again, we really like Dresden!


(Click to enlarge)



Dresden: Frauenkirche

When Dresden was bombed near the end of WWII the oldest part of the city, the Innere Altstadt, was most affected.  Two days after the bombing began, Frauenkirche  “Church of our Lady” collapsed. From 1945 – 1993 the center of Dresden was a pile of stone and ash. (Image of the ruins)

Socialist War Memorial

It was a political decision to not rebuild the church (religious structures were not the responsibility of the state). Residents appealed that the rubble should not be discarded as planned, and Frauenkirche was left alone as a reminder of the atrocities of war.


In 1993, reconstruction of Frauenkirche began– mainly from ambitious fundraising and the intent of Dresden’s residents to restore the structure.  It was finished in 2005.   Pieces of the rubble were removed piece-by-piece and catalogued. Of the millions of fragments of original stones, close to 3800 were incorporated into the rebuild.  The stones from the original structure are darkest, due to the high iron content in Saxon sandstone. The church is a replica of the original.  In other words, it is nearly new.

Pieces of the alter were salvaged.  The interior is painted to resemble the marble and granite pillars. Frauenkirche’s intricate wooden doors were remastered from wedding photos taken long ago. Some aspects, such as the organ, were not restored. The renewed structure is said to symbolize the possibility of rebirth.



Our visit 

We stopped at Frauenkirche our first day in Dresden.  Derek climbed the tower to look over the city and I visited the interior.    Afterwards a friend recommended that we stop at the café near the cathedral for Eierschecke, a Saxon specialty.  It is an egg-custard cake, sort of like cheesecake, but not overly sweet!  I was wondering how it was made and found a recipe in U.S. measurements, here  —



For the Dough:
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup + 1/8 cup Sugar
1 Egg
Pinch of Salt
1/2 package Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup Milk, lukewarm

For the Quark Filling:
17 ounces (500g) Quark
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted Butter
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
Zest from 1 Lemon

For the Topping:
2 cups Milk
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted Butter
1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
3 Eggs Yolks
3 Eggs Whites
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean


In a small bowl, combine the yeast and half of the milk. Mix in 2 tablespoons of the flour and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Allow this mixture to sit in a warm place for 1 hour.

Combine remaining dough ingredients then add in the yeast mixture. Mix until a smooth dough forms, then knead by hand. Allow dough to sit in a warm place until double in volume.

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).

Grease a baking sheet or a Spring-Form pan. Roll out dough to fit the size of the baking sheet. Transfer dough to pan.

Mix Quark with sugar, eggs, and lemon zest. Mix until creamy.

Spread quark mixture evenly over dough.

For the topping, combine milk, butter, egg yolks, and sugar. Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla bean and add seeds to milk mixture. Bring to a simmer, stirring continuously. Allow to cool.

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.

When the milk mixture has cooled to room temperature, gradually (and gently) fold into the egg whites. Spread this mixture evenly over the cake.

Bake cake for around 40 minutes or until a golden brown crust develops on the top of the cake.

Remove cake from oven and allow to cool completely.



Dresden: Zwinger


Our hotel Aparthotel am Zwinger was a few blocks away from the Zwinger at the edge of the “inner old town” of Dresden.  Nearby is the Semper Opera House, which on the day we visited had opened the windows of it’s practice hall.  The park around the Zwinger smelled of fresh lilacs and echoed with the sound of opera. 


The 18thC Zwinger —— Party Palace

It was 1723 and the Zwinger was the hottest place in Saxony.  Walking around, you can see plenty of indications that this was once the site of some wild parties. Augustus the Strong (August der Starke) of Saxony decided to ‘modernize’ the once fortified outer-wall ‘Zwinger’ (13thC) for his court after seeing Château de Versailles in France. This was his place across town– an exhibition hall for games and luxurious gatherings. He is also the reason Dresden is known for porcelain and why there is an impressive collection of old art in the city.


The Zwinger Today

Like most of Dresden’s old city, the Zwinger was devastated after the bombing of WWII (an image here) and the restoration of this premises alone took nearly 20 years.

The Zwinger is now home to three museums, The Old Masters Picture Gallery– Dresden Porcelain Collection — and the Mathematics and Physics Salon.  An entry fee of 10€ will get you into all three.  The Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister has several notable works, one of them being Raphael’s Sistine Madonna.  Believe me, you’ve seen it ; )

I didn’t want to lean into the hype, but it was very beautiful.  If only you could block out those bored little cherubs… right?  Derek enjoyed the Alte Meister Gallery too! I learned that going to look at serious works of art with Derek means a really -fun time-! If art bores you, go with him! He has captions for all the paintings!

—–> More about our trip to Dresden soon… what a city!

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