One of the charms of visiting cities that have been around for a long time is the contrast. The contrast in architecture, the people, the streets, the art and the overall atmosphere. It's impossible to fully understand those of the past, but many countries and cities offer visitors the chance to at least try to experience the old and new of the city, and eventually make their own memories.
Dresden, Germany, is one of those places. It's the capital of the Saxony region and is located in a valley on the Rover Elbe, very close to the Czech border. It survived the devastating bombing in World War II, which wiped off the city and killed more than 25,000 civilians. With only a bridge dividing the old and new towns of the city, it's interesting how different the two areas are, both in a cultural and architectural point of view.
Castles, cathedrals, museums, theaters, arcades and markets: more than enough to spend a weekend. Most of the buildings here were reconstructed after the war and now it's all open for visitors to really sink in the history, plus the interesting fusion of German and Czech, old and new, historical and cultural. If there's one man you need to know when in Dresden, it's Augustus II the Strong. He was not only the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, but he was also very passionate about art and architecture. He was the reason Dresden became such a major cultural center, attracting artists and artworks from around the world. And he's everywhere, from books, posters, mugs, t-shirts, postcards to pens and maps.
Must sees in the Altstadt include the Zwinger and all the museums within the palace, Semper Opera House, the Procession of Princes Mural, Frauenkirche (you can go up and see the entire city from atop). If that's not enough, walking around the old town side of the city is enough. Beautiful architecture, museums and artwork.
The Neustadt seems like a completely different city: beat up cafes, bars, jazz cafes, small clubs, yummy restaurants and a lot of graffiti. As soon as you cross the bridge from the Altstadt, it's so interesting and intense how you can instantly feel the change in ambience. You can actually find various type of art, including modern, futuristic, traditional and grungy. The Kunsthof Passage Dresden is a facade of buildings designed and decorated by local artists and it's been both a local and visitor favorite when it comes to art. The area is designed in specific themes, including elements, lights, animals and mythical creatures, so if you're in for an art kick, pay a visit.
Because there are so many places to eat and drink, it can get a bit overwhelming, but some quick recommendations would be Max (both in Alt and Neustadt) for brunch, Duong Ngoc Tien for affordable but amazing Thai food, Little India for Indian food, Eva's Evergreen pub for some nice cocktails and jazz and Wohnzimmer for some seriously good Chai lattes and other teas.