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Dresden, synonymous with culture

Terrence T. White |
If you ask a German where to go to find the culture in all its glory, the answer will be: Dresden. The sheer wealth of the cultural treasures near the River Elbe will take your breath away.

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There is something going on related to culture all year long, from classical theatre to international festivals. From closed venues to open air events, the atmosphere is just magical. How close Dresden and festivities are the Christmas market clearly shows: the oldest in Germany, it started in 1434 and is held ever since. Stroll the Baroque District facing the famous Old City. The quarter, back in the 18th century, hosted one of the most intelligent people of its period such as Goethe, Mozart and Nietzsche.

The Baroque District is full of small stores and shops, galleries, boutiques, bars, restaurants and artist's studios. It's one of the most beautiful quarters in Dresden to wonder around and enjoy the atmosphere. But when you are in Germany you can't just walk around not trying their fantastic food. Desserts and sweets are developed beyond imagination and some are known in the whole world. Take for example Dresdner Christstollen, a combination of butter, raisins in rum, almonds, lemon and orange peel, and spices, it's a fantasy. It's so great that it's even protected by German law.

Dresden is mostly a city defined in Baroque. The Renaissance and Historicism, the Modernism and Postmodernism, and now the modern time defined the town as well. It's impressive that Dresden has some 13,000 listed cultural monuments and eight districts under preservation orders and that shows how many cultures and influences were presented there. The city hosts Pfunds Dairy, "the most beautiful diary shop in the world". Its fantastically embellished tile paintings in the style of neo-Renaissance made them enter the Guinness Book of Records and it is worth every minute spent looking around and shopping.

Talking about Dresden's attractions the city is so full of history that every house talks. But, among all, some stand taller. If we go from the oldest times, Underneath Brühl's Terrace that stretches high above the shore of the river Elbe, tells the story of medieval defence systems, the old town bridge, the small bastion and the casemates. Its beautiful architecture makes Brühl’s Terrace a nice place for walking, people watching, and having a coffee. Straight under Brühl’s Terrace, Dresden Fortress, with its 400 years old gate is the oldest Renaissance structures in the city. Today, the castle is considered one of the most modern museums in Europe.

Unfortunately, Dresden is also known as a city that suffered a huge destruction in World War II when it survived with great sacrifice. Frauenkirche Church is a great example not only of an 18th century architecture but of international cooperation too. The building was erected between 1726 and 1743 and its characteristic dome, called the "stone bell", collapsed on February 15th, 1945 under the rain of bombs. Countries jumped to help in on October, 30th 2005 Frauenkirche Church once again opened its doors to millions of visitors. Today, its 67 meter high viewing platform offers a unique view over Dresden and the surroundings.

The Neumarkt area has been part of Dresden since 1548 and it is in fact more a piece of art than just a collection of structures. During the Renaissance is developed its signature charm and it continued to evolve during the early Baroque period. It was gradually reconstructed and it stays the best known square in Dresden’s downtown. Celebrating the Middle Ages, the Stallhof between the Johanneum and the Langer Gang hosts the 101 meter long mural of the Wettins, Saxony’s ruling family.

The Stallhof is part of the big Royal Palace complex. That Renaissance building was constructed in the 15th century for the Saxon electoral princes and kings. Again, after its destructions the building was reconstructed as a museum for Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. It's interesting that city's youngest Baroque building is also the largest church in Saxony. That's the cathedral, 4,800 square meters of sacred ground, and its crypt of the Catholic Sanctissimae Trinitatis cathedral is the resting place of kings, among them maybe best known is Augustus the Strong, whose heart lies there.

Germany is the country of music so it's no surprise that the most famous opera house in Germany is Dresden's Semper Opera House. The Saxon State Orchestra is one of the worlds oldest orchestras. The Semperoper’s orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, is Germany’s oldest orchestra dating from 1548. The Kulturpalast is home of the 150 year old Dresden Philharmonic but it hosts everything from musicals to ballet to pop and jazz concerts. Palace in the Grosser Garten Park, Dresden’s biggest and most beautiful park, serves as place for concerts and events. When the music is silent, the miniature park railway offers its kind of joy to its visitors.

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