2016 Dresden, Germany
Dresden, Germany. Nominated as a Knowledge City Region.
Dresden – the jewel of the Elbe
When it comes to the nation's art treasures it might seem as if some German cities have received more than their fair share. Over the centuries, Dresden has accumulated so many that visitors can only marvel at the splendour and opulence of its cultural heritage. And since Dresden also just happens to be set amidst a breathtaking river landscape, their amazement is more than likely to turn to sheer delight.
A beautiful fusion of architecture and landscape Dresden, the state capital of Saxony, has always enchanted its visitors with a fascinating combination of the traditional and the modern. A stroll through the delightful heart of the city, centred around the palace that was once the residence of Saxon dukes and kings, reveals Dresden's inimitable charm. There is a reason this city is also known as the 'Florence of the Elbe'.
The city centre is located on the western bank of the Elbe, in a picturesque bend of the river, and dominated by magnificent buildings from the Renaissance, baroque and neo-classical periods. Seen from the opposite shore or from one of the bridges, it is immediately obvious why Dresden is famed around the world as a city of culture.
Despite the devastation caused by the Second World War, the city's old quarter has retained or regained its most beautiful architectural ensembles. The Church of Our Lady, Zwinger Palace, the Semper Opera House, the palaces along the Elbe and the garden city of Hellerau – Dresden is simply brimming with fascinating attractions. A counterpoint to all this grand architectural heritage is provided by exciting contemporary buildings, such as the new synagogue, the UFA Kristallpalast cinema and the central station, where leading international architect Norman Foster has covered the historical iron framework with a translucent teflon membrane. Peter Kulka designed the transparent roof for the small courtyard of the palace, while Daniel Libeskind provided the plans for the extension and transformation of the Military History Museum.
A feast for the eyes and ears – internationally renowned museums and orchestras With their passion and appreciation for art, Duke Augustus the Strong and his successors established remarkable museums such as the Green Vault, the Turkish Chamber and the Old Masters Gallery – famous around the world for holding the Sistine Madonna by Raphael. A grand total of 44 museums, 56 galleries and 36 theatres provide a wide range of intellectually stimulating entertainment. Their ranks have now been rejoined by the recently refurbished Albertinum, which houses the New Masters picture gallery and a sculpture collection.
For almost 700 years, Dresden has also been admired throughout the world for its musical traditions. The Semper Opera House, the State Orchestra, Philharmonic Orchestra and the Kreuzchor boys' choir are widely acclaimed. Popular festivals, exciting theatre and dance performances along with other top events provide plenty of reasons for a visit to the city at any time of the year.
Nature and countryside: discover the other side of Dresden A picnic in beautiful countryside with views of the palace and the cathedral, historical steam ships with dixieland music, palaces towering over the city, beer gardens surrounded by fragrant meadows – away from the art and culture Dresden has many unexpected qualities. Lined with pastures, the Elbe freely winds its way through Dresden for 23 kilometres. Cutting straight through the fields, on the Elbe Cycle Route it only takes a leisurely hour's ride from the old quarter to reach Pillnitz Palace – passing vineyards and delightful old villages along the way. The river landscape also provides a stunning backdrop for many open-air events, including the Filmnächte, the Elbhangfest and concerts in the romantic parkland of the Elbe palaces.