By Sarah Russell, Indiana University
My boyfriend, Max, came to visit me for a week in Prague. We decided to take a day trip up to Dresden, Germany on advice from my friend Katherine who studied there. Actually I think she said that if we didn’t go to Dresden, I would have to work hard to repair our friendship! With Dresden only a two hour bus ride from Prague, of course I said yes. Though the weather was rainy, the unique city made up for it.
Dresden is a great city to experience in a day. The tourist center is easily walkable, dotted with cafes and restaurants. At Katherine’s advice, we bought tickets in advance for Grunes Gewolbe, or the Green Vault. This (literal) vault is inside the Dresden Royal Palace and houses one of the biggest collections of historic royal treasures in the world. Only a certain amount of people are allowed in at a time for the self-guided tour through eight different rooms. Max and I expected some jewelry and maybe some paintings, but were shocked at how extensive this collection actually was. Unfortunately, pictures were strictly prohibited. Jewels, ivory, silver, gold, bronze, ostrich eggs and giant shells decorated all the rooms. There was some intricate, beautiful sculpture, chalice, or box everywhere you looked. It was certainly the highlight of the trip.
Afterwards, we found a small microbrewery and had a delicious lunch of soft cheese, schnitzel, and potatoes. The cheese was rich and had different flavors, and the schnitzel was light and perfectly cooked. We were absolutely stuffed and happy.
We then headed down the street to the Zwinger Palace, originally the location of a fortress in the 12th century. The current palace was built in the 1710. The main courtyard of the palace was spectacular. I wish we could have seen it in the summer because I’m sure the gardens are beautiful. The roof was decorated with statues and green from oxidized bronze. We explored the many staircases that led to different levels of the palace, ornate with fountains and statues of babies and angels.
Next to Zwinger Palace is the Semper Oper, or Dresden opera house. Unfortunately we did not have time to take the tour, which I’m sure would have been amazing. The outside was decorated with statues of composers, and on top there was a giant statue of a god riding in a cart drawn by panthers. Semper Oper was originally built in 1841, but like the majority of Dresden, was destroyed in the Bombing of Dresden during World War II. It was rebuilt and opened in 1985 with the last piece that was played before the bombing.
After stopping for a chococinno, or hot chocolate with espresso, we went into two churches, the famous Frauenkirche and Hofkirche. The Lutheran Frauenkirche was completely destroyed in the bombing, turning the original building from 1743 into rubble. The rubble was kept until 1992, when it was rebuilt, opening in 2005. The Hofkirche is the Catholic Church which is not only designed with religious symbols, but symbols commemorating the victims of Hitler’s reign.
Across from the Frauenkirche is the Furstenzug, the largest porcelain mural in the world. It is 334 feet long and 34 feet high and was completed in 1876. The 23,000 tiles have survived spectacularly. The gold, black and white mural depicts the rulers of Saxony from 1127 to 1904.
From there we walked on the Bruhls Terrace along the River Elbe. The views along the river were pretty, with large modern buildings as well as old buildings that looked like palaces. However, the cold kept us moving quickly.
Lastly we took a tram to Pfund’s Dairy, supposedly the most beautiful milk shop in the world, something that I knew Max would enjoy. It was built in 1880 and intricately painted with colorful leaves, vines, and flowers. They serve milk, cheese, and ice cream. Unfortunately we arrived late and they had ran out of milk, but we tried the cheese which was fantastic.
One of my goals for the day was to eat a German pretzel, which I assumed would be available in every café in Dresden. However, after a long search, the only place we found them was at the main train station. Though we were on the bus, technically I was still in Germany enjoying a last-minute pretzel.
Though it seems like we did a ton of sightseeing, the day trip was actually very easy and relaxing since everything was so close. I definitely recommend it, though it would have been great if Katherine could have been our tour guide!