I popped over to Dresden for a weekend with some good friends. It was a city I managed to miss while I lived in Germany, and so I was happy for the chance to finally visit. And boy it did not disappoint.
Arriving on Friday evening, hungry and tired from the train journey, the top priority was food and drinks. Las Tapas, an aptly named tapas bar, resides on Munzgasse street, teeming with bars and restaurants and feeding directly onto Terrassenufer, the beautiful promenade along the river. Though I am generally wary of tapas bars and Irish pubs in most cities, Las Tapas had a nice selection of dishes and a great wine list. Try the jamon with melon – a perfect combination of salty and sweet. The cheese plate, with two different types of manchego, a soft sheeps cheese, and a hard flaky aged number, was a win a well.
The next day was devoted to Altstadt (old city) sight-seeing. Dresden has an interesting history – long considered one of the most beautiful cities in the country, it was almost entirely obliterated during bombing raids in WWII. Unlike a lot of cities, which were quickly rebuilt to accommodate the population, Dresden was painstakingly restored over decades to its original glory. As much as possible, stones and materials from the original buildings were used, and today we see the stark contrast between old and new. This is particularly evident in the Frauenkirche.
As our hotel was directly beside the Frauenkirche we started our city tour there – photographs are not allowed inside but the color palate is entirely different from most cathedrals – pale baby blue, rose-pink, and a lot of gold accents contributes to a much brighter and sunnier interior.
The Furstenzug is the world’s largest porcelain mural. An amazing massive wall depicting a procession of all the rulers of Saxony. It is gloriously detailed and amazing to see in person.
The Altstadt is full of gorgeous buildings – the effort and care put into restoration is clear. The intricate details present at close range contribute to an overall picture of grandeur and history. The strong difference between the blackened original materials incorporated into the new structures is something you will not see elsewhere in Germany. It is all at once beautiful and a reminder of the past.
The opulence and beauty of the city culminates at the Zwinger, without a doubt the most elaborate and beautiful spot in the Altstadt. The Rococo-style building surrounds an orangerie and what was a “pleasure garden” for the King (whatever that means). The beautiful design and details of the Zwinger meant that it was packed full of tourists, even on a cloudy drizzly afternoon.
We strolled along the raised promenade at the river, which looks across to Neustadt; the new more funky artsy side of town. If you head to the Neustadt, check out the Kunstwerk Ladengalerie, a hot bed for artisans and unique gifts and souvenirs to take back home.
At the local bakery, you have to try the famous Dresden Eierscheke – a 3 layered cake unique to the city, with a crumbly cake base, raisins, and egg custard on top.
The sun came out for a brief hour in the afternoon, allowing some more furious photo-snapping before heading to the hotel.
Luxury for Less Hotel: We stayed at the QF Vienna Hotel, purchased via Secret Escapes, a great site for finding luxury hotel and vacation deals. Check out a full review of the hotel in this post.
Luxury for Less Restaurant: Topf Secret is located close to the Altstadt, totally hidden away on a quiet apartment-lined street. The entrance and decor are simple and demur, but the food, service, and experience was amazing. Prices are extremely reasonable considering the quality and presentation.
The menu is small, with only a few options for each starters, main dishes, and dessert. It is handwritten in chalk on the wall, and changes throughout the evening as dishes run out. With space for only 10(!) people, reservations are highly recommended. We sampled a creamy kohlrabi soup with grilled prawns and homemade delicious bread with a trio of dips, before moving on to the main event. For me, chicken stuffed with ricotta and spinach, served with roasted tomatoes, truffled mashed potatoes, and a Parmesan tulle. For my friend, perfectly cooked veal saltimbocca with roasted vegetables and gnocchi. A new take on a traditional dessert, black forest cake, was presented for dessert. A lovely little stack of rich chocolate cake layers with cheery cream mousse and pineapple rosemary sorbet. The chef here has an amazing intuition for fresh and interesting flavour combinations. Appetizers run between 5-8 euros, mains between 17-21, and desserts between 4-6 euros. Or, you can have the whole 3 course extravaganza with a 10% discount.
Sunday we ventured outside the old traditional part of the city to enjoy some city greenery and new architecture.
Dresden is a totally unique Germany city and a world full of contrasts. It’s a step back in time with its glorious architecture, while at the same time adding a good dose of the modern, funky and new.