Dresden – a city for all senses
The capital of Saxony is multifaceted and offers an extraordinary quality of life
Art and culture
Granted, none of the seven wonders of the ancient world are to be found in Dresden. Back then, the river was probably still busy sculpting the natural features of the local sandstone. The wait was rewarded with a mag-nificent landscape, but in later times, the Elbe valley saw such a blossoming of architectural and artistic bril-liance that the visitor today forgets to count and can only rub his eyes in wonder. The Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche), Royal Palace, Zwinger, Semper Opera House, Elbe castles, Villa Quarter, Hellerau garden city or the award-winning modern buildings – not forgetting the „Blue Wonder‟ bridge to the east of the city centre. It seems the likes of Augustus the Strong and his successors were not prepared to wait for nature to finish the job; with their skill, artistry and determination, they filled the Grüne Gewölbe (Green Vault) and Türckische Cammer (Turkish Chamber) with treasures from all over the world, collected paintings and porce-lain, and were patrons of the great composers. No wonder then that Dresden today ranks as a world-class city of art and culture.
Experience and pleasure
Frankly, we would not seek to claim that haute cuisine was invented in Dresden. But this does not mean that the locals cook with Elbe water or that the Elector Augustus became strong just by eating the famous local stollen cake. Even if nothing had remained of his Baroque festival culture but the crockery, the Meissen porce-lain factory would still provide a feast for the eyes. Luckily, the festival tradition lives on in Dresden, and in summer, there is generally a celebration taking place somewhere in the vicinity. You can enjoy a beer at a Dixieland jazz brunch, while away the afternoon on Brühl‟s Terrace, savour a glass of Saxon wine at the Elbhangfest street festival or in the interval at the Dresden Music Festival – even the cheese here is sold in the finest milk shop in the world. Whether you prefer to see your stars shining above the door of hotels and restaurants or in the sky above a beer garden, in Dresden we indulge all the senses. So in these circum-stances, even the traditional easy-going Saxon hospitality can turn out to be a stimulating experience.
Green and active
It may be true that the Swiss discovered mountains. But here too, we can offer keen climbers some enjoyable challenges in the Elbsandsteingebirge. Our very own „Saxon Switzerland‟ (Sächsische Schweiz) situated just a few kilometres from the gates of the state capital and boasting a collection of bizarre sandstone rock forma-tions and wildly romantic valleys is just one part of the impressive Elbe valley landscape that has bestowed on the city its “grand and festive setting” (Heinrich von Kleist). The numerous castles, parks and gardens around Dresden or the vineyards that slope down to the river banks can be visited on foot or by romantic cable car, by bike along the Elbe cycle path or in leisurely fashion on board a ship of the oldest paddle steamer fleet in the world. But you do not even need to go beyond the city boundaries, as Dresden consists of over sixty percent forest and parkland, much of it around the Großer Garten, making it one of the greenest cities in Europe.
Young and alternative
Admittedly, the Copacabana may be hotter all year round, but if you have ever been involved in a tough game of volleyball on the white sand in front of the beach bars at the Pieschener Hafen, you will know how good a cocktail in a deckchair can taste afterwards. A word of caution, though – the nightlife in Dresden is not just the preserve of the city‟s 40,000 students. It can be quite difficult to drag yourself away from the pubs and clubs in the Neustadt quarter and the former industrial area in the north of the city. Unless, that is, you prefer to join the evening roller skaters, sit in a beer garden with a Canaletto-style view or put your feet up during the film nights staged on the Elbe promenade. The city carries on buzzing through the night, so you can always count on public transport being available. But it would be a pity if our guests went to bed too late and found they had no time for a stroll through Dresden‟s fashionable stores in the Neustadt quarter the following day.
Science and research
OK, so maybe the first electric bulb was switched on elsewhere, but Dresden‟s inventors have always had flashes of inspiration. In the quest for gold, they came up with a „second prize‟ of porcelain – the first china in Europe. Sometimes, as in the case of the bra or the coffee filter, the Dresdeners were focused on household inventions, but in the case of the famous Gläserne Frau anatomical model at the German Hygiene Museum and the SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera, they showed themselves to be true pioneers. Today, the city pos-sesses a high-calibre, internationally esteemed and intensively networked research complex of universities and institutes that have built a reputation for themselves in such advanced fields as microelectronics, nanotechnology and biotechnology. Dresden‟s Research Center for Regenerative Therapies was the first „Cluster of Excellence‟ to be set up in the newly formed German states. At the same time, the „Children‟s Uni-versity‟, Science Nights and the Academy for Senior Citizens ensure that this light is not left to burn under a bushel.
Business and conferences
We all know that the original Silicon Valley is on a different continent. But our home-grown answer – „Silicon Saxony‟ – has since become the world‟s leading centre for the development of memory chips. Dresden is a modern metropolis and a regional beacon for business that is at the same time firmly rooted in tradition. This coexistence of the historical and the contemporary is perfectly exemplified in the modern exhibition centre that has been built on the site of a former slaughterhouse, in the Congress Center an der Elbe and in all the other conference venues, whether these are situated in the Old Town or further out in charming suburban settings. As a city that is open to art and science, bursting with architectural masterpieces amidst a beautiful cultural landscape, Dresden offers its visitors so many leisure opportunities. The state capital has forged its own unique and unmistakable identity that successfully combines the fabled „Florence on the Elbe‟ with the dy-namic „Silicon Saxony‟.