Certainly one of the most pleasant and interesting stops we made on this trip, and probably the major city I knew least about before coming. All I really knew about Dresden was that it was the target of major (and controversial) Allied bombing near the end of WWII that completely flattened the city and killed about 30,000 local residents. And then of course that it was one of the major cities of East Germany behind the Iron Curtain during the cold war.
We arrived from Berlin by train around 1:00 pm and walked to our hotel about 1 1/2 miles away. We had a little trouble with directions on our GPS and the roads were less than ideal for walkers with multiple large suitcases, so we probably should have taken a taxi (which we did when leaving). We stayed at a little boutique hotel near the old part of the city, checked in and started walking the old town.
Almost every major building was destroyed during the bombing, and the East German government did little to rebuild except with newer more practical buildings. But the local citizens did everything they could to replicate the old city, a process that accelerated after the fall of the communist government in 1989. For many important buildings they had the plans from the old building and rebuilt the replacements according to those plans, even using the original stones if possible. In the rest of the old town they just made sure the new buildings were built in the same architectural style as the old town which was mostly built up in the 18th and 19th centuries. Leslie commented that is was like Disneyland in that the buildings were not original and authentic but sure looked and felt that way. Stunning baroque style churches and castles were everywhere.
We took a walking tour on day 2 that provided a lot of interesting history, especially about “August the Strong”, a very important King of Saxony and Poland. We had great dinners in two street side cafes around pasta which were the best meals I have had on this trip. And there was a very interesting bar attached to our hotel named “The Gin House” that we went to every night for some conversation with locals and of course some gin for Leslie.
Dresden is a city I highly recommend that is still lightly visited by Americans. Although tourism is a major part of their economy, 75% comes from inside of Germany and most of the rest from other parts of Europe. Although English is widely spoken most of the activity and language you will hear is German. I can’t say enough how mush we enjoyed Dresden.