Striezelmarkt © Landeshauptstadt Dresden, Sylvio Dittrich

If you like Christmas, you’ll love Dresden. A grand total of twelve completely different Christmas markets, from the by no means Dark Ages to the après- ski charm of Alpine huts, makes for wonderfully conflicting decisions. Holiday sounds fill the air throughout the city. From the many oratorios to Advent, organ and gospel concerts, Dresden’s churches brim with festive insider tips. Christmas tales also come to life in the city’s theatres whilst museums host special exhibitions and boats bejewelled with lights glide along the Elbe. If only Christmas could last more than just a few weeks ...

Zwinger | photo ©

The most important building of the late Baroque period in Germany, constructed 1710–28 under the direction of architect Pöppelmann and sculptor Permoser, originally an orangery and royal pageant grounds, later exhibition halls; 1847–55 construction of the Semper Gallery. At the Zwinger: Old Masters Picture Gallery, Porcelain Collection, Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon

Frauenkirche | photo © LHD, Frank Exß

Built 1726–43 from the designs of George Bähr, the Frauenkirche is considered the most important Protestant structure in all of Germany and one of Europe’s most important cultural and structural monuments. Destroyed in 1945, the church lay in ruins for decades as a solemn memorial until reconstructed 1994–2005 using as many of the building’s original stones as possible. Services and concerts are now held in the magnificent Baroque interior spanning five gallery levels.

Semperoper | photo ©

Erected 1838–41 by Gottfried Semper, rebuilt 1871–78 following a fire under the direction of Semper’s son Manfred in the Italian Neo-Renais - sance style. Restored true to the original after its 1945 destruction, the Semper Opera House reopened in 1985 as the established venue of the Saxon State Opera and the Saxon State Orchestra.

 Albertinum | photo © SKD

Built 1884–87 atop the foundation walls of the former armoury as a public museum and archive. Restored after the great flood of 2002, a spectacular flood-proof elevated structure now hovers impressively over the inner courtyard. Inside: New Masters Gallery »Galerie Neue Meister«, Sculpture Collection »Skulpturensammlung«.

Residenzschloss | photo © SKD/ Brandt

Built in the late 15th-century in the Renaissance style, later rebuilt and expanded several times, the seat of government for the Saxonian electoral princes and kings until 1918, destroyed in 1945, reconstruction as the “Palace of Arts and Sciences” began in 1986. At the Palace: Historic Green Vault, New Green Vault, Turkish Chamber, Armoury, Collection of Prints, Drawings and Photographs, Coin Cabinet.

Dresden Cathedral | photo ©

Dresden Cathedral, or the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Dresden, previously the Catholic Church of the Royal Court of Saxony, called in German Katholische Hofkirche and since 1980 also known as Kathedrale Sanctissimae Trinitatis, is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Dresden. Always the most important Catholic church of the city, it was elevated to the status of cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dresden-Meissen in 1964. It is located near the Elbe River in the historic city centre. It was designed by architect Gaetano Chiaveri from 1738 to 1751. The church was badly damaged during the bombing of Dresden of the Second World War and was restored during the mid-1980s by the East German government.

Brühl’s Terrace | photo © LHD, Frank Exß

Also called “The Balcony of Europe” for its fantastic views, laid out 1739–48 along the city’s ramparts as the private gardens of Count Brühl. The wide staircase was built in 1814 and the gardens were then opened to the public. Working in the vaults underneath the terraces, Johann Friedrich Böttger produced the first European hard porcelain in 1708.

Stallhof | photo © LHD, Christoph Münch

In the Middle Ages, knightly games and tournaments took place in the Countryard Stallhof, which is part of the big Royal Palace complex. Today, the court between the Johanneum and the "Langer Gang" (Long Arcade) is used for cultural events.

 Yenidze | photo ©

Constructed in 1907 in the Neo-Oriental style as a tobacco factory with an elaborate coloured glass dome, the Yenidze today provides office space, restaurants and magical readings of fairy tales under its glass dome. The building was designed by the architect Martin Hammitzsch. 

Fortress Dresden | photo © Schlösserland Sachsen

Explore the remnants of the tunnels, vaults and casements within the city’s 16th-century ramparts under Brühl’s Terrace.