Dresden’s baroque and its indie republic

Dresden is delightfully schizophrenic: on one side of the Elbe it’s a series of baroque portraits, and on the other a grungy alternative zone filled with bars and boutiques. It’s OK though: it’s all held together by the little strip of the Inner New Town, and Saxon Switzerland is just on the doorstep…

To listen, hit play below or find episode 290 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

The picturesque Old Town

Known as the Florence of the North, Dresden was filled with baroque beauty that was bombed to the ground during WWII (remember this?) and most of the buildings in the Old Town are… new. Some were just completed within the last few years, but they have done a great job of making this part of the city photogenic!

The Old Town is baroque and beautiful.

The Old Town is baroque and beautiful.

The Palace courtyard - great galleries inside.

The Palace courtyard – great galleries inside.

This golden mosaic is made from local porcelain.

This golden mosaic is made from local porcelain.

The Zwinger has a decorative moat.

The Zwinger has a decorative moat.

And it's not too shabby inside! Houses the Physics salon, Old Masters, and Porcelain galleries.

And it’s not too shabby inside! Houses the Physics salon, Old Masters, and Porcelain galleries.

The opera house is said to be the world's most beautiful.

The opera house is said to be the world’s most beautiful.

Even the parks have palaces!

Even the parks have palaces!

A big Saxon roast (at the Sophienkeller) hits the spot!

A big Saxon roast (at the Sophienkeller) hits the spot!

And there's nice dusky views of city and river from the bridges.

And there’s nice dusky views of city and river from the bridges.

Life in the Colourful Republic of Dresden New Town

It would be too limiting to call the New Town Dresden’s alternative shopping and nightlife spot. It’s that, and so much more. It’s the oldest part of the city, and after the fall of the GDR the citizens of its many squats and small apartments founded the Colourful Republic of Dresden New Town. The best way to discover my favourite part of Dresden is with a walking tour by local character, Danilo.

Great eats, like this currywurst with an unusual peanut sauce.

Great eats, like this currywurst with an unusual peanut sauce.

We stayed in the Hostel Lollis... with a Trabant for a bed.

We stayed in the Hostel Lollis… with a Trabant for a bed.

Our couchsurfing hosts took us to a 150,000-person street party celebrating the Colourful Republic.

Our couchsurfing hosts took us to a 150,000 person street party celebrating the Colourful Republic.

Some vintage currency from the Republic, seen on our Dresden walking tour.

Some vintage currency from the Republic, seen on our Dresden walking tour.

The hinge of the Inner New Town

Luckily, these two very different cities have some kind of connection. Cross the Albert bridge into the Inner New Town: this is the perfect place to stay if you want to explore both sides of Dresden.

Wide pedestrian avenues with designer boutiques off it.

Wide pedestrian avenues with designer boutiques off it.

Fountains, often full of children, teens and adults during this hot week!

Fountains, often full of children, teens and adults during this hot week!

We stayed in the Bulow Residenz - you can also upgrade to the palace!

We stayed in the Bulow Residenz – you can also upgrade to the palace!

Looking towards the Old Town's skyline.

Looking towards the Old Town’s skyline.

Just beware the puppet army. Scarier than zombies.

Just beware the puppet army. Scarier than zombies.

Saxon Switzerland natural park

As if the architectural beauty wasn’t enough, our Couchsurfing hosts were kind enough to take us out to the Saxon Switerland, or Sächsische Schweiz, national park – an area full of hiking tracks, climbing options and — around the fortress — tourist buses.

The Elbe River from the clifftop.

The Elbe River from the clifftop.

The stunning medieval fortress is all the better after a hike through the forests.

The stunning medieval fortress is all the better after a hike through the forests.

The stories that go with these pictures, plus talk on transport, accommodation, prices and all sorts of things can be found in the podcast. Hit the play button at the top of this page or find episode 290 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud.

We spent a week in Dresden as part of #IndieGermany – a five week trip through five cities in Germany, with a German Rail Pass from ACP Rail. Our thanks to the Dresden Tourism Board for their help, including the use of two Dresden City Cards.

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One Response to “Dresden’s baroque and its indie republic”

  1. Franca July 10, 2013 at 8:35 am #

    Dresden look like the kind of city we would enjoy with a bit of everything and especially a lot of architecture to enjoy.
    A little curiosity: did you really sleep in the Trabant? So cool!

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