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May 17 - 18: Dresden, Terezín, and Nelahozeves

Bright and early on the morning of the 17th, we met our intrepid bus driver, Petr, in front of the Hotel Kastanienhof and boarded our bus, bound for Dresden. After a day of sightseeing in Dresden, we headed farther south to the Czech Republic, where we first visited Terezín, a former concentration camp. Several somber hours later, we drove southeast to Nelahozeves for a tour of a beautiful castle above the Vltava River. 

May 17: Reconstructed Dresden

Frauenkirche

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Though Dresden seems old, much of it is actually reconstructed. The city was badly bombed during World War II, and many of its historical buildings did not survive. For decades after the war, the church was left as rubble. After German reunification, reconstruction began, funded by donations from all over the world. Builders salvaged as much of the old church as they could. The result is a two-toned church, with the original stone being much darker than new stone. The interior, shown in the panorama above, is a pastel dream. 

Dresden Castle

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The architecture is impressive, but the castle is better known for its contents: Today, it is a museum complex that houses the spectacular Green Vault, discussed below. Established by Saxon ruler Augustus the Strong, who built the Zwinger and whose statue you can see in the header of this webpage, the Green Vault contains his accumulated riches, in a display that has been open to the public since the Baroque period. 

Glockenspiel Pavilion at the Zwinger

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Every fifteen minutes, these white porcelain bells sweetly toll. Made of famous Meissen porcelain, these bells ring brighter than metal bells. 

The Zwinger is a vast palace complex with sweeping staircases and grand fountains, though at the time of our visit, the showpiece central garden was being renovated. Even with a plot of dirt in the center, the Zwinger still impressed. 

Procession of Princes

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This is another landmark made of durable Meissen porcelain. The procession, stretching across the entire side of the building, features eight centuries of Saxon rulers and prominent Saxon figures. 

Free time in Dresden:
The New Green Vault

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The New Green Vault is a parade of opulence: Gold, silver, mother-of-pearl, ivory, bronze, and gemstones galore. The exhibits ranged from tiny (a bust carved into a cherry pit) to massive (a tapestry that reached from floor to ceiling). These photos are a small sample of the decadence on display.

May 18: Terezín Concentration Camp

May 18: Nelahozeves Castle

In the northwest region of the Czech Republic, on a hill overlooking the Vltava River, lies Nelahozeves Castle. With Renaissance-style architecture and a family lineage dating back 400 years, the castle was a delight to visit.

 

This is one of the places that we would never have chosen to visit had we planned our own tour, but we were very glad it was included on the Rick Steves guided tour. The castle's exterior, with sgraffito decoration, was striking and well-maintained. The interior was also very well-preserved, with outstanding artwork and a real slice-of-noble-life feel.

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Follow our Dresden and Czechia tour on the map!

 

Click on the square icon to load the map in a new window, or click on the square with an arrow in it to see the legend. 

 

Blue marker = Dresden tour

Purple marker = Dresden free time

Orange marker = Czechia tour

Green marker = Food and lodging

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