I have to be honest–Dresden and Leipzig were not cities that were on my radar to visit. In fact, I’d only heard of these two places in passing. I’m not entirely familiar with the history of Germany, which is probably something I need to look into. I mean, I know about the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification and all that jazz, but as far as the nitty, gritty nuances, nada. Zip. Zilch. Definitely looking into books I can read when I get back home.
So anyway, back to Dresden; Dresden was pretty freaking cool. If you’re looking for a place full of culture, art, and history, Dresden is a MUST VISIT. There was SO MUCH TO DO. It’s one of the annoying things about only having a few days in large cities: you sort of have to pick and choose what you are going to do.
- Deutsch Hygiene Museum – If I could recommend one awesome thing, I would have to say the Deutsch Hygiene Museum. It was BY FAR the coolest thing. The exhibit that was on display when we visited was entitled “What is Beautiful.” It was all about how people perceive beauty and attractiveness. Definitely an interesting exhibit, that totally made me never want to eat ever again. Apparently Germany’s definition of beauty is skinny, blonde and symmetrical. The permanent exhibit, however, was incredibly informative and very interactive. I was particularly fond of their entire exhibit dedicated to human sexuality, which was basically an entire room full of porn. And who doesn’t like free porn?
- Fürstenzug – We also walked by The Fürstenzug, which is known as the largest porcelain artwork in the world. It’s located on the outer wall of the Stallhof of the Dresdner Schloss. In sort of the same area, you can find the Dresden Frauenkirche. My understanding was the original building was destroyed during the bombing of World War II and the ruins became an anti-war memorial, but it was rebuilt after German reunification. Another amazing building is the Semperoper (Opera House). We didn’t get a chance to check out the inside of this building, but the exterior was breathtaking!
- Zwinger – The next day, we went to the Zwinger, which was, undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful buildings I have seen in Germany thus far. There are several museums housed within the building, but the must visits are the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery), which is home to such famous original works as Raphael’s “Sistine Madonna” (the original cherubs!), Vermeer’s “Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window” and many, many more. We headed next to the Porzellansammlung (Porcelain Collection) and I particularly loved this, mainly because I love all the different forms pottery can take. I could seriously have spent all day here!As a side note, Dresden is famous for their amazing collection of porcelain artwork. If you can find a small piece to purchase and take home (I found a small, hand painted cat that still sits on my bookshelf) I would definitely recommend it!
- Funky Blue Building – Another must visit, if simply to take pictures, is the Funky Blue building that has been designed with various pipes that play music when it rains. We happened to stumble across this building on accident, when we were looking for someplace to eat lunch, and it’s quietly nestled in this fun little artsy district of Dresden. You can find tons of pictures of it online, but I couldn’t find the exact location. I’m sure if you asked a local about the blue building that plays music, they could point you in the right direction!
- Königstein Fortress – In between Dresden and Leipzig, we visited the Königstein Fortress, which is this massive German fortress that is on top of what felt like a super huge hill (we climbed up to the top with all of our backpacks). I now know that traveling around and hiking up hills with my 40 lb. travel backpack makes me extremely grumpy and irritable. The Fortress itself was interesting, and the views of the surrounding areas were nothing less than spectacular, but at that point, I didn’t really care to tour around and learn about the history. I just wanted to drink a beer. And because you’re in a Fortress and pretty much secluded, beer was not cheap, even by German standards. Next time, I will pack my own! From the Fortress, we went to the Bastei, which was a lot more hiking and by this point, I was pretty much done hiking around Saxon. And I was not that impressed. I think if you decide to visit, take the bus that transports people from the bottom to the top. Good news: I think I lost 10 pounds on this trip alone.
So if you’re in Germany and looking for places to visit, I would definitely recommend spending at least a week in Dresden and the surrounding areas. You can also pop over to Leipzig, which has sort of a Portland-meets-Berlin sort of feel to it. But that’s for another topic!