Dresden Museums and Parks
From: Dresden, Germany
Dresden's cultural treasures aren't just on the façades of buildings or inside concert halls: The city also has a good range of museums, both public and private.
The Zwinger is a good place to start your museum explorations. The Baroque palace complex houses several of Dresden's most important museums, which are run by the Dresden State Art Collections (SKD): The Old Masters Picture Gallery, the Porcelain Collection, and the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Salon (inset photo), along with the Saxon Folk Art Museum and Puppet Collection, the Armory, and several other museums.
The Green Vault, also managed by the SKD, is the former treasure chamber of the Wettin Electors who once ruled Saxony. You'll need to book a "time ticket" in advance to view this collection of Renaissance and Baroque objects.
The German Hygiene Museum is more than its name might suggest: In the U.S. or Britain, it would be called a "Museum of Man," and its exhibits cover topics such as anatomy, living and dying, diet, the human brain, sexuality, and beauty. It also has a children's museum with hands-on exhibits for ages 4 to 12.
The Dresden Transport Museum is conveniently located on the Neumarkt, where its historic building, the Johanneum, houses permanent exhibits about local transportation, railway vehicles, road traffic, and aviation. Hardcore transit fans will also want to visit the German-language Web site of the Strassenbanhnmuseum, or Tram Museum, which runs excursions on vintage streetcars.
Dresden Fortress and the adjacent Brühlsche Terrasse are also in the city center. The fortress was the first of its kind in Germany, and the Fortress Museum offers a "multi-sensory tour" of what life was like for the soldiers who lived and worked in the Festung.
Technische Sammlungen Dresden, a.k.a. the Technical Collection of Dresden, is a technology museum with both historic objects and modern exhibits. It's outside the city center on tram lines 4 and 10 or bus line 61; get off at Pohlandplatz, then walk a minute or so up the Schandauer Strasse in the direction away from the city.
The vast Museum of Military History of the Germany Army, which dates back to the 19th Century, is located on Olbrichtplatz. Following six years of renovation (with additions by the internationally-noted architect Daniel Liebeskind), the museum has re-emerged as a unique institution that focuses on the "human component" of war and "the consequences of war and violence." (See "A Culture of Violence" in Sightgeist: The Saxony Magazine.)
The Panometer Dresden might better be described as a tourist attraction than as a museum; it's a huge computer-made 360° painting that represents Dresden as it looked in 1756. (The painting, which is viewed from a tower in the center of a converted gasometer 5 km or 3 miles from the city center, is 27 meters or 89 feet high.) See TripAdvisor's article if you don't read German.
The Dresden City Museum, the Technical Collection of Dresden, Schiller House, the Carl Maria von Weber Museum, and several other museums are profiled at the German-language Museums of the City of Dresden site, which requires patience to navigate and a browser that supports Adobe Flash.
Pillnitz Palace, the Saxon monarchy's summer residence on the eastern edge of Dresden, houses the Museum of Decorative Arts. Although the museum is in a Baroque setting and has many works from the era of the Saxon Electors, its collection is international and spans five centuries (up to the present day). Pillnitz also has its own Palace Museum, which supplements the guided tours of the buildings and grounds.
For more listings, see the City of Dresden's German-language Museum Index.
The Grosser Garten, or Great Garden, was commissioned in 1676 and became a city park in the mid-1800s. At 147 hectares or 363 acres, it's the largest park in Dresden, and it has something for everyone--from flowerbeds and forests to a lake, a pleasant restaurant in the Carolaschlösschen, a palace, and a Park Railway with 5.6 km or 3½ miles of track. The Grosser Garten on the southeastern edge of the Altstadt, next to Volkswagen's Transparent Factory.
Other parks are scattered around town, and much of the Elbe's riverbank area is covered in grass (where you'll occasionally see sheep grazing) as a flood-control measure.
Next page: Shopping in Dresden
Top photo copyright © DTW/Christoph Münch.
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