Dresden, the Florence of the Elbe

Helmut Schön was one of the best German football players and managers in their history. However, he stands out in my mind for a completely different reason. During the Second World War, Dresden-born Schön was advised to leave his home city because of the danger of the bombings. Schön said: “The British won’t bomb Dresden, they’re too gentlemanly to destroy a city of such beauty”. Sadly, Schön was wrong. Heavily bombed, most of Dresden lied in ruins at the end of the war.

But Dresden doesn’t get its nickname for nothing. Although completely destroyed in the Second World War, the city recovered and is today one of the most beautiful cities in Central Europe. Above all, Dresden is a city of culture and architectural beauty. Musicians, writers and architects filled the streets of this city in Saxony during the 19th century and before the Second World War. Many interesting museums have their place in the city, such as the Albertinum Museum, which holds paintings by famous artists such as Van Gogh and Friedrich, and it’s the home of Europe’s biggest jazz festival, the Dixieland Festival. Also film has its place in Dresden with the Filmnächte Festival.

Dresden’s main beauty comes from the old town with its famous landmark the Frauenkirche. The dome of the church sees a golden cross on top of it, donated by the city of Coventry, another heavily bombed city during WW2, as a symbol of peace.

Zwinger Palace is another famous landmark, a baroque-style palace with many sculptures, including the famous Madonna Sistina by Rafael. There are many exhibitions inside as well. A visit to the Rüstkammer museum can also give an insight on the history of Dresden.

For musical education, the Semper Oper is considered one of the most beautiful opera buildings in the world. Germany has always been a country of great classical musicians, such as Beethoven, Strauss and Wagner, among many others, and the Semper Oper used to host the premieres of the works of these musical geniuses.

Another work of art, the Fürstenzug is the biggest painting on porcelain in the world and depicts all the kings and princesses of the history of Saxony. This is also the location of the famous Dresden Christmas marke Striezelmarkt.

However, Dresden still has a sad side to it. While the reconstruction is almost complete, there are still some scars of the Second World War. Fortunately the revival of Dresden has transformed the city into one of the most popular tourist destinations in Germany and a convenient stop between Berlin and Prague. If Helmut Schön were alive today, he’d be a very proud Dresdener.

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