The first time I put my feet in this incredibly beautiful and inspirational old Saxon city (December 2010), I was completely stunned. May I say this is the nicest Baroque city in northern/central Europe? I would say Yes –with all due respect to Prague and Saint Petersburg…
Dresden is well worth a visit at any time of the year. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, over 2.5 million visitors come to the city. They’re drawn by the Striezelmarkt –one of Germany’s oldest and loveliest Christmas markets. It’s named after a pastry called “striezel,” a forerunner of the Christstollen –Dresden’s famous Christmas fruitcake.
The famous Christmas fruit cake is baked here right before visitors’ eyes. Children can knead the dough for their own cookies as well. The Striezelmarkt offers a host of traditional products. Wooden pyramids, incense burning figurines and nutcrackers from the Erzgebirge Mountains are especially popular as souvenirs. Traditional Christmas cookies, baked right at the market, are for sale. Children can also mix their own cookie dough. And the traditional Striezelmarkt wares are also here –the pyramids, incense figurines, and nutcrackers local to the region.
The rest of the city is also replete with cultural delights, with fifteen museums filled with works of art collected by 500 years of Saxon nobility. The refurbished Albertinum Museum contains works by old and modern masters (Raphael, Juan Gris)
It would take weeks to see all of Dresden’s art treasures. The palace alone houses 15 different museums with exhibits collected by the rulers of Saxony over the course of five centuries. In the Albertinum, the diverse collections ranging from antiquity to the modern era can be seen under one roof. Bearing in mind the Yuletide (Christmas) message of peace, a visit to the Bundeswehr’s Military History Museum can also certainly be recommended.
Just for the history, there is a particular relationship with Coventry in UK. Along with its twin city Coventry, Dresden was one of the first two cities to twin with a foreign city after World War II. The cities became twins after World War II in an act of reconciliation, as they had suffered incisive destructions from bombings considered to be both disproportional.
While breathing the Christmas touching atmosphere in the streets, do not (ever!) forget to :
• visit the Frauenkirche, an outstanding bijou of German religious architecture, and one of the Europe’s most exceptional examples of the Baroque period;
• gulp a sip of typical Glühwein, kind of mulled wine –since winter is really really cold in Dresden, -10 to -15°C at the very least !