Saxon Switzerland, that the name of the area we went to on our holiday this year. You may remember that we already visited the part of the park that lies in the Czech Republic. You can read about it here. The reason we went is because of Melt! Festival in Ferropolis. The festival is 2 hours away from the park. We still have warm feelings about our first holiday together in Bohemian Switzerland. So we thought it would be fun to explore the German part of the park.
We found a beautiful camping on the boundary of the park. As soon as we settled we decided to visit the capital of Saxony, Dresden. Our main reason for visiting the park is hiking but due to the warm weather we decided to do this later in the week when the weather is cooler. So off we went to Dresden and let us start by giving you some background information about the city.
In 1945 the Allies completely destroyed downtown Dresden during four different bombardements. Famous buildings like the Zwinger, the Semperopen and the Frauenkirche were gone and besides a couple of walls nothing stood upright anymore. It would take many years before these buildings would be in their former glory again. For example the Frauenkirche, it was put into service by the Protestant church again in 2005. Before this the church still was a pile of rocks. The rebuilding starting in 1991 by sorting out the debris. Now the church is the proud center of downtown Dresden and an important place for its inhabitants. Other important buildings are there Art Academy, Kulturpalast (now under restoration) and the Hofkirche.
In 2002 the entire area was struck by the worst floods the area has ever seen. You do not notice it anymore but if you look closely you see the signs across town to let you know how high the water stood that year. The water height reached an impressive 9.13 meters above the Elbe and costed the area 15 billion in damages. Most tourists only see the downtown area (Altstadt) of Dresden.
We started out there as well but our travel guide directed us to go to part of town called Neustadt (new town). In the old city center you will find all the famous building as mentioned above. But we quickly saw all major sight and we crossed the Augustusbridge across the Elbe to Neustadt.
As soon as you pass Albert Square just go into on of the streets left or right of you. I promise, you will be pleasantly surprised. This part of town is where the people from Dresden live. We have gotten the feeling we were inhabitants ourselves and we felt less like as a tourist. This caught us by surprise and it gave us a pleasant and welcome feeling. Every corner we turned showed a new special building or facade. Make sure you order a pint at Katy’s Garage. This is a pub/disco/stage/biergarten in the middle of Neustadt. And after your drink, go stroll the streets close by in search of small boutiques and shops. A must see is the Kunsthof-passage (Plastic walkway). Creativity is buzzing is these streets. We gladly let the pictures speak for us.
We are convinced that all people from Dresden are creative. Especially in Neustadt you see graffiti everywhere. Maybe the reason is to cover the blackness of the buildings. We gotten used to it really quick and after a while we did not see it anymore. It becomes is part of this town and for some reason it adds to the general look and feel of the city. Besides the graffiti tags there is also beautiful city-art.
The city has no bicycle lanes. So do not be surprised that bicycles overtake you while you walk on the sidewalk. And there are plenty of bikes in Dresden. Maybe the city should invest in bicycle lanes. But the riders do not speed and take pedestrians into account.
Our conclusion of Dresden is that Altstadt is beautiful but it did not touch us. On the other hand Neustadt really surprised us and is absolutely worth the trip across the Elbe. Did the city get in to our top 5 cities? No, it did not but then again, we only visited the city for one day.
We know we only scratched the surface of Dresden. So please let us know what we have missed in your city?