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Visitor's Guide

Dresden offers a lot to see in many varieties: There is no history of architecture that does not mention the Dresden "Zwinger". "Frauenkirche" ("Church of Our Lady"), "Semperoper" and the "Residenzschloss" lend a characteristic touch to the image of the city, along with other buildings and ensembles of historic importance. The cherubs from Rafael's Sistine Madonna announce Dresden's art collections to the whole world. Splendid promenades on the river bank, interesting museums and establishments, technical monuments, endearing details: there's a lot you can discover in Dresden.

Museums

Forty museums and many private galleries mainly dedicated to contemporary art have given Dresden the reputation of being a city of culture and the arts. The Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters' Art Gallery) with Raphael's famous "Sistine Madonna", and the Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vaults) of the royal treasure chambers enjoy international acclaim.

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Over 100 exhibits, among them the golden coffee service and Johann Melchior Dinglinger's "Court of the Grand Mogul", are to be seen in the modern rooms for the "Neues Grünes Gewölbe" (New Green Vault), while the "Historisches Grünes Gewölbe" (Historical Green Vault) presents its riches in the magnificently restored original rooms of the historical treasure chamber. The Zwinger's porcelain collection features numerous specimens of Chinese, Japanese and early Meissen porcelain, which are counted among the most significant in the world.

Around Dresden

The city on the Elbe is ideal for excursions of all kinds: to the west of Dresden lies Radebeul. The vine-covered slopes around Wackerbarth Castle and the historic vineyard of Hoflössnitz give it an almost Mediterranean flair. By contrast, the Karl May Museum spirits visitors off to the Wild West.

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From Radebeul, a steam operated narrow-gauge railroad will take you through picturesque country dotted with ponds to the Baroque castle of Moritzburg in only 30 minutes. Meissen is the historic hub of Saxony. Albrechtsburg is Germany's earliest example of a residential castle, Meissen Cathedral an impressive model of pure Gothic style. Beneath the castle hill stretches a sea of gabled houses in the old town. The famous Meissen porcelain manufactory presents past and present masterpieces made from the "white gold". Be sure not to miss a tour on one of the paddle wheel steamers of the Saxon Steamboat Company into Saxon Switzerland. From the cliffs of the Bastei you can enjoy the splendid view of the Elbe Valley below and the surrounding plateau. Below the viewpoint in Rathen, the open-air cliff theater entices people to visit throughout the summer. Its program consists of operas and plays, including Karl May's Wild West plays. Further upstream, Germany's biggest fortress towers over the small town of Königstein. From Bad Schandau, you can take the environmentally friendly tram through the romantic Kirnitzschtal Valley

Shopping

Prager Strasse, Altmarkt and Wilsdruffer Strasse are the main shopping centres in Dresden's Old Town. On these broad streets you will find department stores and small shops with a wide variety of offerings. The side streets are also well worth a detour. On the Neustadt bank of the Elbe, the tree-lined Hauptstrasse not only invites you to go shopping, but also to spend some time in one of the many restaurants and cafés. And Dresden's posh Königstrasse offers you high-class dining and elegant shopping facilities in a Baroque ambiance. The fringe area of the New Town exudes an atmosphere of its own, marked by contrasts even in shopping. Elegant boutiques and small shops with quirky offerings, arts and crafts and kitsch, branded products and second-hand goods are waiting to be discovered in the narrow lanes.

Music and theatre

Dresden's fame is inseparably bound up with its great musical tradition: the Dresdner Kreuzchor boys' choir is more than 500 years old. On Saturdays, the choir sings vespers in Kreuzkirche (Church of the Holy Cross, summer 6 p.m., winter 5 p.m.).

The Dresden State Orchestra, one of world's leading orchestras, plays in the magnificent Semper Opera House. Its name is directly linked with more than 300 years of opera history in Saxony. Famous composers, such as Weber, Wagner and Strauss, brought musical theater in Dresden to full bloom. On holidays, the Dresdner Kapellknaben boys' choir and the Cathedral Choir perform near-operatic Catholic sacred music in the Hofkirche (Court Church). At the vespers service on Saturday afternoons you can hear the famous Silbermann organ (May through October).

Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, which gives concerts in the Kulturpalast almost every weekend, also enjoys worldwide fame. Not to forget light entertainment: The Dresden State Operetta features operettas and musicals every day except Mondays.