This tour can begin in Berlin (2 hours by train away), or we can meet directly at your accommodation in Dresden! Alternatively, if you would like to spend a night in Dresden after your walk, I can leave you at your hotel or apartment there at the end of our city tour. Dresden is a rococo-and-baroque gem on the banks of the river Elbe, just 2 hours by train from Berlin.
With a population of half a million, Dresden is the state capital of Saxony and is known for its stunning architecture, deserving of its nickname: ‘Florence on the Elbe.’ For centuries, it was the royal seat of the Wettins, the Saxon royal family, who boasted such colourful characters as the promiscuous King Augustus the Strong and who stayed upon their throne until 1918 (the final king, when advised that he should make tracks and follow suit subsequent to the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II, laconically and legendarily commented, ‘Oh well, I suppose I had better.’) We will get to know all the royals, since they are depicted in the quite stunning ‘Fürstenzug’ or ‘Procession of Princes,’ one of Dresden’s most iconic landmarks, and with its 23,000 tiles the largest porcelain artwork in the world. To that end, we will discuss the peculiar story behind the development of Saxony’s famous porcelain by the rather stressed-out alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger, who lived to regret a promise made to Augustus that he could develop ‘white gold.’
On our tour, we will see Dresden’s beautiful (and painstakingly-recreated) churches, the Catholic Hofkirche and the Protestant Frauenkirche, as well as the rebuilt Semper Opera House. The city, as you know, was devastated in the firebombing of Valentine’s Day 1945, and we will follow the trail of American airman and author Kurt Vonnegut, whose ‘Slaughterhouse Five’ whilst also discussing the latest scholarly research on that controversial night – not to mention the aftermath of the devastation as it reverberates in the current Saxon political landscape.
We will stroll through the gardens of the Zwinger Palace and stop at the beautiful Brühl Terrace with its view of the river that inspired Bernardo Bellotto, or ‘Canaletto.’ Talking of Old Masters, we can also pass through the marvellous Dresden Gemäldegalerie, which boasts works by Raphael, Titian, Vermeer and plenty more – or the ‘Green Vault’, with the largest green diamond in the world. We can take a break in the bohemian ‘Neustadt’ quarter for a bite to eat – or, if you are visiting in the winter, we can munch on ‘Stollen’ cake at the marvellous Christmas market. And – why not? – we can take a trip to the world’s most beautiful dairy!