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Dresden Trivia

A collection of "firsts," "oldests," and "biggests" from the capital of Saxony.

From: Dresden, Germany

Dresden paddle steamer

ABOVE: A vessel of Sächsische Dampfschiffahrt, Germany's oldest fleet of paddle steamers.

Normally we don't use press releases in our editorial coverage, but the Dresden Tourist Office has put together a release titled "Dresden - A Record-Breaking City" that deserves wider circulation. Here's a lightly-edited and abridged version:

The first German Pilsner beer
The Radeberger Exportbier-Brauerei brewed Germany's first Pilsner in the late 19th Century. (That beer is now Dresden's leading brew.)

Germany's first beer mat
Rudolph Sputh of Dresden patented an "absorbent wood-fiber beer-glass coaster" in 1892, ending the enmity between beer and tablecloths.

The world's first bra
In Saxony, it's said that beautiful women grow on trees, but their beauty is need of direction and support. On September 5, 1895, Fräulein Christine Hart applied for the first patent on a "bodice to keep the breast in shape."

FrauenkircheThe largest Protestant church on the European continent
Saxony was in the forefront of the Reformation, and it strove to become the "Protestant Rome" with the massive domed Frauenkirche. (By the time the church was built, the ruling dynasty of Saxony had long reverted to Catholicism.)

The first single-lens reflex camera
In 1936, the Kineexacta (developed in Dresden) was introduced at the Leipzig fair. The Pentacon camera works didn't survive the political changes of 1989-1990, but another innovative photographic tool--the Noble panoramic camera--is manufactured in Dresden.

The world's first toothpaste tube
Dr. Ottomar Heinsius put paid to tooth powder in 1907 with the first mechanically-produced tooothpaste,which was sold in the Löwenapotheke pharmacy on Dresden's Altmarkt.

The world's first mouthwash
In 1893, Dresden industrialist Karl August Lingner developed Odol mouthwash, which is still sold in the original style of bottle. (Lingner later bought three palatial mansions overlooking the Elbe and built the German Hygiene Museum.)

PD DiesbarThe world's oldest fleet of paddle steamers
Sächsische Dampfschiffahrt, a.k.a. the Saxon Steamship Company, has been in business since 1836. It currently has eight historic paddlewheel steamers (some more than 120 years old)  and two modern motorships. The company's excursions include local cruises and longer trips to Meissen and Decin (in the Czech Republic).

The world's oldest hillside suspension railway
The first passenger-carying hillside suspension railway was built in Dresden between 1898 and 1901. It extends 274 meters or just over 300 yards from Körnerplatz in Dresden-Loschwitz to a viewing platform in the area known as Loschwitzer-Höhe.

The world's first coffee filter
Melitta coffee filters were invented and patented in 1908 by Melitta Beltz, a 35-year-old Dresden homemaker.

The first industrially-produced condensed milk
The Pfund brothers developed condensed milk for coffee in 1886; long-life pasteurization was introduced in 1900. Pfund's Dairy Shop, built in 1892, has been described as "the world's most beautiful milk shop." It's still in business as a cheese shop.

Germany's oldest Christmas market
Striezelmarkt Christmas marketReligion was combined with commerce in Dresden as early as 1434. The result was the Striezelmarkt, which was named after a type of fruity bread that later became the famous Dresden Stollen.

Every year, on the second Sunday in Advent, the world's biggest Stollen is cut. Apart from Stollen, handicrafts such as wooden toys from the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge), ceramics from Lusatia, and gingerbread specialties such as Pulsnitzer Lebkuchen are sold at the Striezelmarkt Christmas Market.

The first European porcelain
In 1709, working in the vaults of the Dresden fortress under pressure from the Saxon Elector, Augustus the Strong, alchemist Friedrich Böttger invented the first European white porcelain, which was also the world's first hard porcelain. To keep the recipe secret, manufacturing was moved to Meissen Castle, but industrial espionage was rife even then, and porcelain was being made all over Europe within a decade.

The world's biggest porcelain frieze
Fuerstenzug DresdenThe Fürstenzug, or Procession of the Princes, represents ruling members of the Wettin dynasty over 800 years. It's 102 meters (335 feet) long, is made of 25,000 Meissen porcelain tiles, and was designed in 1907 by Dresden art professor Wilhelm Walther.

The world's largest porcelain collection
The Porcelain Collection in Dresden's Zwinger contained more than 50,000 objects at the time of Augustus the Strong (1694-1793) and is even larger today. Augustus further enriched his collection by trading 500 of his best soldiers to the rival state of Prussia in exchange for more than 150 vases.

The oldest stage equipment in Germany
The Schauspielhaus Theatre, erected in 1912-13 opposite the Zwinger, houses the oldest fully-functional technical stage equipment in Germany. The hydraulic stage machinery survived World War II. (It's also worth noting that the Schauspielhaus Theatre was heated by Europe's first district-heating power station.)

Text source:
Dresden Werbung und Tourismus GmBh

Also see:
Dresden Travel Guide
More Articles About Dresden

Top, 3rd inset, 4th inset photos copyright © DWT/Christoph Münch.