Speaking of magnets, Dresden has a big tourist magnet and doesn’t even realize it and promote it. Ironically, those two impish angels that have become a symbol of Italy are in Dresden’s wonderful world-class Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister, (“Old Masters Gallery”), home to many more well known Old Masters. In fact, those famous angeles aren’t even easy to find within their museum - they’re hidden at the very bottom of Raphael’s great Sistine Madonna.
It’s the Dresden Tourist Board - not the Italian Tourist Board - that should be promoting those Raphael angels on every “Welcome to Dresden” ad. Dresden, was known as Germany’s “Baroque City” until a saturated-bombing raid (February 13, 1945) resulted in destruction of 90% of Dresden’s buildings, and the rebuilding is still going on. I call Dresden “Germany’s Museum City.” The exquisite “textbook” Rococo palace, the Zwinger (restored in the 1950s) is home to three museums. The nearby Neo-Renaissance Semper Opera House is one of the world’s finest.
My first visit to Dresden 20 years was an enlightening and sad experience. The Frauenkirche, a gem of a church, which dominates Dresden’s skyline, was still a pile of ruins. Reconstruction, (completed in 2005) incorporated thousands of charred fragments. The Frauenkirche’s surrounding area, “Neustadt,” was a jumble of Communist-era drab. Today that ecclesiastical gem has a befitting new, “old” setting - a totally restored Neustadt with reconstructed 17th and 18th-century facades. Dresden Palace, home of the Kings of Saxony, also a pile of ruins since WWII, reopened in 2013 -- is home to yet another three museums. Dresden’s location couldn’t be better. It’s an easy day trip from Berlin. And, if you believe in sightseeing by crossing countries’ borders it’s also a great day trip from Prague.