DRESDEN, Germany -- So much to see, so little time. A common
problem for anyone visiting Europe, the conundrum perplexes even
well-traveled visitors on a short stop in multifaceted Dresden at
the tail end of a business trip to Germany.
With just one full day to take in as many of the Saxon capital
city's glories as possible, I managed -- I'd like to believe -- to
boil down locals' recommendations to the bare historic essentials
plus two stunning attractions of more recent vintage.
One of those impressive new wonders is the mostly glass Transparent
Factory, built by automaker Volkswagen next to the city's Botanical
Economically, ergonomically and ecologically correct, the
crystalline car plant provides much-needed jobs for Dresdeners in a
high-tech, surprisingly spotless facility that produces just one
model, the Phaeton.
Guided tours of the plant -- which boasts gleaming hardwood
workshop floors and self-guided, robotic delivery carts -- are
available by prearrangement at a cost of about $6 (e-mail [email protected] for information);
the factory also has a restaurant.
After dreamily inspecting a $120,000 Phaeton on display, I tore
myself away and went "downmarket" with a mere tram ride to the
Neumarkt -- or New Market -- site of the imposing Frauenkirche
(Church of Our Lady), under reconstruction.
Queen of the Dresden skyline for 217 years until it collapsed
after Allied firebombing in 1945, the Frauenkirche will once again
hold court after completion in 2006; reconstruction has passed the
From the Neumarkt it was a short stroll via tiny Munzgasse,
packed with souvenir shops and restaurants, to the Bruhl Terrace,
Dresden's riverside byway. Strung along or near the terrace are the
city's top antique attractions, including the Albertinum, with its
Green Vault treasury; the Hofkirche and Royal Palace at
Schlossplatz; the Semper Opera; and the Zwinger, home to Raphael's
famed Sistine Madonna.
I had time only for quick visits to each before heading to my
most surprising find: Saxony's state winery, at the Schloss
Wackerbarth villa outside town.
Saxony, it turns out, is Europe's most northerly traditional
wine culture; at historic Schloss Wackerbarth, visitors are treated
to tours and wine tastings in the villa, in the vineyards and at an
adjacent high-tech winery, built in 2002 with tourists in mind.
Multimedia displays -- including the "Aroma Game" sound and
light show, an ingenious interpretation of wine appreciation --
illustrate the production of sparkling wine.
The winery also has a tavern and gift shop; tours run from 10
a.m. to 7 p.m. though Sept. 30.
Entrance to most of the myriad attractions I crammed into my
itinerary was free with the 48-hour Dresden Card visitor pass; to
obtain the card, or for more on Dresden, contact the the German
National Tourist Office at (212) 661-7200 or at www.visits-to-germany.com.