Dresden Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Dresden

Renowned for its art museums and classic architecture, the Saxon capital Dresden has risen from ashes of WWII, just as a phoenix, in its fully regained beauty, revealing both the old and newly-acquired splendor. This orientation walk takes you to some of the city's most distinguished landmarks – palaces, bridges, squares and museums.
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Dresden Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Dresden Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Germany » Dresden (See other walking tours in Dresden)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 18
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 Km or 3 Miles
Author: Caroline
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Altmarkt
  • Kreuzkirche
  • Prager Straße
  • Dresden City Museum
  • Neumarkt Square
  • Frauenkirche
  • Albertinum
  • Dresden Castle
  • Old Masters Picture Gallery
  • Zwinger
  • Katholische Hofkirche
  • Brühl's Terrace
  • Augustusbrücke
  • Golden Cavalier Statue
  • Hauptstrasse
  • Heinrichstrasse
  • Japanese Palace
  • Königstrasse

1) Altmarkt (must see)

The Altmarkt or Old Market square in Dresden dates back to the 13th century. It has been the location for several markets and fairs. After World War II, the square was mainly used as a car park. Today, efforts are underway to restore Altmarkt as a shopping center in Dresden.

Records describing the Altmarkt in Dresden as a commercial hub date back to the year 1206 when trade routes from the north and south met at the location. At the time the square was the center of the city. Between 1653 and 1888, Altmark was a bustling marketplace with many well known monuments including the Justitia Fountain and the Germania monument made to commemorate the victory in the Franco- German war. Today, the High Cross Church with its 92 meter high cross is the last of the impressive buildings left among structures that once surrounded the square. The Altmarkt was among the many casualties of the firebombing of Dresden by Allied forces in 1945.

The Altmarkt is a small shopping center with an underground car park today. The Christmas market is still held every year at the square where visitors can enjoy culinary delights unique to Saxony and purchase folk art from the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountain) region.

2) Kreuzkirche (must see)

Located at the center of the Old Town in Dresden near the Altmarkt square, the Kreuzkirche has one of the finest Boy’s Choirs in Europe. The 92 meter high tower has a balcony from which one can see a 36 degree view of the city of Dresden.

A small church stood on the location of the present Kreuzkirche from the early 12th century. In 1388, it was formally dedicated to the Holy Cross. The church burned down and was rebuilt five times. The recent reconstruction was in 1955 after the World War II bombing of the city. Kreuzkirche is the largest church in Saxony. The 13th century church was replaced by a gothic building after a fire. In 1492, the Gothic structure caught fire and was rebuilt. In 1539, the first Lutheran service in Dresden was held in the newly reconstructed church. A tower was added to the church between 1579 and 1584. In 1760, the Prussian army bombarded and damaged the church. Architect, Johann Georg Schmidt designed a new neoclassicist structure and the church opened its doors again in 1792.

The newly rebuilt church in 1955 has a simple interior. The acoustics in the hall are impressive especially when the famous Boy’s Choir performs and on Saturday afternoons when cross choir vespers take place.
Prager Straße

3) Prager Straße

Built between 1851 and 1853, Prager Straße (Prague Street) is a major shopping thoroughfare in Dresden, stretching from the city's main station to the Old Market Square. The street largely acquired its present look in 1965-1978 and further after 1990, during which period a few department stores and pavilions were added to the scene and a pedestrian area was created, one of the first in post-war Germany. On the west side, Prager Straße is lined with three hotels – Lilienstein, Königstein and Bastei – facing on the opposite side a stretched, 250 meter-long (second longest in Germany) Le Corbusier-style residential complex. Standing nearby is a circular-shape movie theater, an architectural landmark of Dresden's modern era. Also remarkable is a new department store featuring silver honeycomb facade, reference to its predecessor Centrum store which stood here before 2006. Right in front of it is the sculpture called "Völkerfreundschaft" (Friendship of Peoples), created in 1986, being one of the few pieces of artwork scattered around Prager Straße nowadays. Another recent addition to Prager Straße is the fountains, including "Pusteblumen-Brunnen" (Blowball's Fountain), whose appearance, among other reasons, was prompted by flooding of 2002. In the north end of Prague Street there's a cluster of shops, including Karstadt department store, Wöhrl Plaza, the House of the Book, and the Centrum Gallery.
Dresden City Museum

4) Dresden City Museum (must see)

The Dresden city museum located in a historic building called the Landhaus traces the 800 year history of the city. There are over 1000 exhibits relating to the history and growth of Dresden including interactive attractions.

The court master builder Friedrich August Krubsacius drew up plans for the Landhaus and it was constructed between 1770 and 1775. A combination of architectural styles were used, including classicist, baroque and rococo with unique staircases and a grand ballroom. Four halls of the grand building house the museum exhibits. The Landhaus was once the government headquarters in Dresden. The building was destroyed during the World War II bombings and later restored. The present structure is less than 50 years old.

Objects of interest at the museum include a large topographic model of the city of Dresden and artifacts relating to the firebombing campaign that occurred at the end of the Second World War. Part of the building is an art gallery with paintings by well known Dresden artists, including a restored painting ‘The Ten Commandments’ by Hans the Painter created before the reformation.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm; Friday: 10 am – 7 pm
Neumarkt Square

5) Neumarkt Square

The Neumarkt Square in Dresden is an important historical and cultural location in the City. It is at this location where the first settlement that later became the city of Dresden was established. Reduced to rubble during the 1945 bombings, the square is being extensively renovated to restore Neumarkt to its former glory.

In the middle ages, the Neumarkt square did not form part of Dresden. The site was the graveyard of a Gothic church. During the renaissance, the capital of Saxony began to expand and Neumarkt Square was brought into the city in 1548. It became a center of commerce after the construction of the Frauenkirche between 1726 and 1743. The buildings around the square suffered damage during many European wars with Prussia culminating in its almost complete destruction in 1945 during World War II. During the communist era, little was done to restore the buildings in the square.

After the unification of Germany, the restoration of the Frauenkirche marked the beginning of efforts to rebuild the square to its pre-1945 splendor. Reconstruction efforts have resulted in completely resurrecting the area. Today shops and restaurants line the restored portions of Neumarkt Square, giving visitors plenty to do as they stroll along the square.
Sight description based on wikipedia

6) Frauenkirche (must see)

The Frauenkirche or Church of our Lady is a Lutheran church that dominated the skyline of Dresden for over 200 years. The unique dome of the church has inspired paintings by artists Bernardo Bellotto and the ‘Dresden by Moonlight’, by Norwegian artist Johan Christian Dahl.

A Romanesque church of the Blessed Virgin Mary stood at the location of the Frauenkirche in the 11th century. It was the seat of a Roman Catholic Bishop at the time. After the reformation, the church became protestant. As the congregation grew in number, the old building was torn down in 1727 to make way for a larger structure. The new baroque style building was designed by Dresden architect, George Bahr who was later buried in the graveyard near the church, in keeping with the spirit of protestant liturgy. The altar, pulpit and baptismal font were visible to the entire congregation. The distinctive part of the church was a 96 meter high stone dome. The Dresden bombing of 1945 destroyed the church. Later a group called the Friends of Dresden in the US and the UK based Dresden Trust with the Duke of Kent as its patron contributed funds to restore the church to its former glory.

The reconstruction of the Frauenkirche was completed and the church was re-consecrated in 2005. Once a month, an Anglican service is held. The building has become the most popular among tourist destinations in Dresden after its restoration.
Sight description based on wikipedia

7) Albertinum (must see)

The Albertinum is a fine arts museum in Dresden that was named after the Saxon King, Albert. The Saxon Elector, August the Strong collected paintings, graphics, coins and sculpture and his collection formed the basis of the exhibits at the museum.

The Albertinum was built between 1884 and 1887 by Carl Adolf Canzler. The museum was to serve as a repository and archive or art and sculpture. The building was damaged by the bombings on 1945 and rebuilt in 1953. The Albertinum was closed again in 2004 because of damage caused by the flooding of the River Elbe. 40 German contemporary artists worked to raise the money for restoration of the building by auctioning their famous works and the result was a flood proof construction with a modern courtyard retaining the original façade.

The Albertinum has four major collections. The coin collection has over 20000 coins, medals, seals and seal impressions. Many of the coins and medals are minted in Saxony. The upper floors have paintings by old and modern masters. The gallery of the old masters has works of the Roamntic, Biedermeier and Realist periods. Many modern works were withdrawn and sold by the Nazis but the museum has acquired an impressive collection after the war. The print cabinet has over 180,000 sheets of graphic and watercolors by European artists dating back to the 15th century and the museum has a vast sculpture collection including the marble reproductions of the Lemnian Athena by Adolf Furtwangler.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 10 am - 6 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Dresden Castle

8) Dresden Castle (must see)

The Dresden Castle is one of the oldest buildings of Dresden. After the firebombing of the city in 1945, the castle remained a burned out shell till 1991 when extensive restoration work commenced. The refurbishment of the castle is expected to be complete by 2013. The Dresden Castle is a witness to the different styles that have influenced European architecture throughout the ages. Buildings with new architectural forms were added from time to time. At first the structure was a Romanesque medieval keep. Between 1471 and 1474, the castle was extended by architect Arnold von Westfalen who added a renaissance style addition to make it a closed structure, suitable for a residence of the Electors of Saxony from 1547 to 1806 and the Kings of Saxony from 1806 to 1918. A fire in the castle in 1701 destroyed part of the building and August the Strong made many Baroque style extensions during its subsequent restoration. The castle had many ornate rooms including the Silver Room, the Heraldic room, the jewelry room, the Bronze Room and the Ivory Room during the reign of August. Another neo renaissance style restoration was performed between 1889 and 1901, during the 800th anniversary celebrations of the House of Wettin. In 2005, the Green Vault was opened to the public and visitors can now view the crown jewels of the royal family of Saxony. The largest collection of jewels in Europe is on display including gold jewelry and ornaments and a cherry stone on which 113 faces are carved. The jewels were moved for safe keeping and protected during the bombings in 1945.
Old Masters Picture Gallery

9) Old Masters Picture Gallery (must see)

On the northern side of the Zwinger Palace in Dresden is the simper building that houses the Old Master’s Picture Gallery. The gallery has many famous paintings of well known artists that formed the collection of the Electors of Saxony.

The Semper wing of the Zwingler Palace that houses the Old Master’s Picture Gallery was designed by Gottfried Semper. He was a leading architect who laid the plans of many prominent buildings in 19th century Dresden. The gallery is regarded as one of the finest in the world. Many of the priceless works of art in the collection were moved during the 1945 bombings. Though the building was damaged extensively, most of the treasures within were saved. The Russians moved many of the paintings to Moscow and Kiev but returned them to Germany in the 1950s.

The art gallery has paintings by Flemish and Dutch painters of the 15th and 17th centuries including Van Dyck, Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer. German paintings of the 16th and 18th centuries and paintings by Spanish artists of the 15th to 18th centuries make up some of the prominent exhibits at the gallery. The treasure in the gallery is the acquisition of Raphael’s Sisitine Madonna by the Saxon Electors in 1754.

The art gallery is open through the year from Tuesday to Sunday and guided tours in English need to be booked in advance.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm

10) Zwinger (must see)

The fine example of Baroque architecture in Dresden called the Zwinger, once formed part of the medieval Dresden fortress from which it gets its name. Zwinger means outer wall of a castle in medieval German.

The Zwinger palace was built under the instructions of August the Strong who wanted a residence in the grand style of the palace of Versailles after a visit to France. He commissioned architect, Mathaus Daniel Poppelmann to design the building. The baroque style structure was built between 1710 and 1732 with the help of sculptor Balthasar Permoser. The Zwinger was damaged during the carpet bombing raids in 1945 but was restored after the people of Dresden voted for restoration rather than destruction of the building to make way for modern structures.

The Zwinger has six pavilions connected by galleries. The most beautiful pavilions are the rampart pavilion with a splendid statue of Hercules carved by Permoser and the Glockenspeil Pavilion with a carillon installed between 1924 and 1936. The Crown gate on the southeast of the complex is topped by a large crown with gilded motifs. The Nymphenbad is a small garden near the rampart pavilion with a fountain adorned by numerous sculptures of nymphs and tritons.

The museums within the Zwinger are the porcelain museum containing pieces from Japan and China and the world’s largest collection of Meissen pottery, the armory consisting of arms and armor and the Mathematics and Physics Museum with impressive exhibits including ancient globes, compasses, sextants and telescopes.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Katholische Hofkirche

11) Katholische Hofkirche (must see)

The Katholische Hofkirche is one of the most beautiful and ornate structures in Dresden. It was commissioned by Augustus III, the son of August the Strong who was married to a princess from the catholic Hapsburg family.

The Katholische Hofkirche is a unique catholic church in Saxony, the birthplace of Protestantism. August the Strong, their protestant king became a catholic when he accepted the crown of Poland. At first catholic services were held in the Royal chapel. The Katholische Hofkirche or the Catholic Church of the Court was constructed between 1738 and 1751 in the Baroque architectural style. The Italian architect Gaetano Chiaveri drew up the plans for the church. The structure is topped by balustrades from which 78 historic and religious statues look over the city of Dresden.

The impressive interior of the church has a rococo pulpit by Balthazar Permoser, a beautiful altar painting by Raphael Anton Mengs and an ornate organ by Gottfried Silbermann. The structure was damaged in World War II like most other buildings in Dresden. It was carefully restored and the memorial chapel has a porcelain altar and pieta made by Freidrich Press in 1973. On the side walls, visitors can read the words of the last prayer before the 1945 bombardment.

One can enjoy a free organ concert held every Wednesday and Saturday and take a guided tour of the burial vault and tombs of the Saxon Kings including an urn that contains the heart of Dresden’s most famous King, August the Strong while visiting the Katholische Hofkirche.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Brühl's Terrace

12) Brühl's Terrace (must see)

Bruhl’s Terrace is a promenade on the banks of the River Elbe that offers impressive views of the river. It is also flanked by some of the most beautiful and historical buildings in Dresden.

Bruhl’s terrace was once the ramparts of a fort built to protect the city. The area was given to Henrich von Bruhl, a close associate and minister of August the Strong. He changed the ramparts into a beautiful garden between 1739 and 1748. The garden has a terraced layout and was called the balcony of Europe by Goethe. A spectacular staircase was added to the west end of the garden in 1814 and it was opened for public viewing. Four sculpture groups were placed on the staircase representing morning, noon and night. The statues were replaced by bronze casts in 1908.

On the right of the staircase are some of the finest buildings in Dresden, including the state parliament building, the Secundogenitur or palace for the second born son of the ruling family, the Royal art academy, the Semper Memorial building, the New Synagogue, and the Albertinum.

No visit to Dresden can be complete without a stroll along the Bruhl’s terrace. Its horticultural and architectural splendor makes it one of the best kept promenades in Europe.
Sight description based on wikipedia

13) Augustusbrücke (must see)

One of the most famous bridges north of the Alps, the Augustbrucke crosses the River Elbe to connect Dresden Neustadt on the left bank of the River to the historic part of Dresden on right bank. The bridge was named after Elector Augustus the Strong and renamed Georgi Dimitrov Bridge when Dresden formed part of the German Democratic Republic.

The earliest record of a bridge that later became the Augustusbrucke was a wooden bridge in 1275. Later a stone bridge was constructed with 25 stone pillars in 1287. It was one of the longest bridges in Germany and connected major trade routes. The tolls collected at the customs house near the bridge was a major source of revenue for the Saxon Wettin rulers. Augustus the Strong, who reigned during the golden age of Dresden, commissioned a new bridge because the old structure was unable to sustain the increased traffic that crossed the Elbe. The bridge was constructed by Council master mason, Johann Gottfried Fehre between 1727 and 1731. Architect Mathew Daniel Popplemann designed a curved structure, 402 meters long with 18 pillars. In 1845, the bridge collapsed because of the flooding of the Elbe and was constructed again by Wilhelm Kreis and Hermann Burdock.

Augustusbrucke suffered extensive damage during the 1945 Dresden bombings and was later lovingly restored to its former glory. Visitors can get a spectacular view of the River Elbe and both sides of Dresden while taking a stroll across the bridge.
Golden Cavalier Statue

14) Golden Cavalier Statue

The Golden Cavalier Statue is not only a city landmark in Dresden but a reminder of its glorious part during the reign of Elector August the Strong who was also King of Poland. The sculpture greets visitors in the main pedestrian boulevard of Dresden, Hauptstrasse.

The Golden Cavalier Statue shows the Elector August the Strong dressed as a Roman emperor astride his horse. The sculpture was designed by the then court sculptor Jean Joseph Vinanche and cast by Ludwig Weidemann, a smith from Augsburg in 1734. The statue was commissioned by August III, the son of August the Strong. The pedestal on which the sculpture stands was erected in 1884.

August the Strong was the best known and loved elector of Saxony. He collected works of art, sculpture, coins and chinaware and established many museums to house his collection. Dresden became a center of culture during his reign and earned the name, the Florence at the Elbe. In 1944, the statue was removed and kept safe in an underground cave in Pillnitz. This timely act preserved the sculpture from destruction during the 1945 bombardment of Dresden.

The Golden cavalier statue was carefully restored over three years and erected again in 1956 to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the city of Dresden.

15) Hauptstrasse

Hauptstrasse is one of several beautiful shopping streets in the New Town of Dresden. You can visit several little craft shops situated along this street, with buildings in old style architecture, as well as many famous monuments and statues, like Golden Reiter. One can buy old arts and crafts, beautiful linen, jewelery, Meissen china and toys and especially, many wooden toys with moving parts.

16) Heinrichstrasse

Heinrichstrasse is in the New Town of Dresden and the area around this street attracts many tourists by its numerous interesting antique shops. Here you can choose among the wide range of antiques. There are historical artifacts pertaining to Dresden and the Saxons, antique Dresden china and others. One of the shops is Historica Antiquariat Bert Wawrzinek Facts, which is highly recommended for what it offers.
Japanese Palace

17) Japanese Palace

The Japanese Palace is a baroque building on the banks of the river Elbe, Dresden. The structure houses three museums, the State Museum of Prehistory, the Ethnological Museum and the Senckenberg Natural History Collections. All three museums have impressive permanent collections and temporary exhibits.

The Saxon Elector August the Strong, purchased the baroque style palace to house his vast porcelain collection in 1717. He wanted the roof the ceiling and walls to be made of porcelain. Architects, Poppelmann, De Bodt, Longuelune and Knoffel were entrusted with the task of restructuring the interiors to make a suitable repository for a porcelain collection. Though the dream of August the Strong was not completely realized, elements of his plan like the Japanese curved roof, the relief on the gable above the portal and the Chinese Hems in the inner courtyard conform to his original wish. The sculptures within the building are in classic chinoisery style. The porcelain collection was never housed here as originally intended and it was used as the electoral library and a sculpture museum. The building was completely destroyed in 1945 and restored in 1954.

The Japanese palace is a major tourist attraction in Dresden because visitors get to see three varied collections in three distinct museums within one building.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 10 am - 6 pm

18) Königstrasse

The Königstrasse is an amazing street for shopping in Dresden. There are many wonderful craft shops that sell German folk souvenirs such as wooden toys and many others. It is a store where one can find exceptional gifts to take home. This street is also endowed with cafes and restaurants where you can taste local delicacies.

Walking Tours in Dresden, Germany

Create Your Own Walk in Dresden

Create Your Own Walk in Dresden

Creating your own self-guided walk in Dresden is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Dresden Museums Walking Tour

Dresden Museums Walking Tour

The city of Dresden in Germany is a gem that boasts a long history. Kings of Saxony lived there and made brought to this city a cultural and artistic splendor, with numerous amazing museums housed in majestic palaces that are masterpieces of architecture. Take this self-guided tour to visit the most popular and famous museums in Dresden.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Dresden's Architectural Jewels

Dresden's Architectural Jewels

Dresden is a city that boasts magnificent architecture. It is known as a Baroque city in Germany, but in fact there are several architectural styles for these great buildings, namely Renaissance, Modernism and Post-modernism. Take this self-guided tour to see the most impressive architecture in Dresden.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 Km or 2.4 Miles
Dresden Elbe Valley Walking Tour

Dresden Elbe Valley Walking Tour

Elbe Valley is a very beautiful place in Dresden. There are several majestic castles set along the river in the valley. You can visit a museum, walk in the park and see impressive villas and a bridge across this river that divides Dresden. Take this self-guided tour to explore the gems of Dresden Elbe Valley.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.2 Km or 2.6 Miles