Dresden is at once, new and old. In fact, the most touristy spot in the capital of Saxony is called Neue Altstadt, or New Old Town. It would not be difficult to take someone without any knowledge of Dresdens history, walk them through Neue Altstadt and have them believe that it's been like this for hundreds of years. But to walk through these streets of seemingly historic buildings designed in the same way as they were for Saxon kings with an understanding that they are mere decades old gives the tourist a strange sensation. Almost like one is walking through a German Disney World without the rides (or exorbitant prices.)
When American and British forces attacked Dresden between 13 and 15 February 1945, they dropped 3,900 tons of bombs and incendiary devices. killing at least 25,000 Germans and 1,600 acres of the city center. Argument over what has become known as the Firebombing of Dresden has raged ever since and will not be continued here. But suffice it to say that Dresden was absolutely destroyed by the operation.
I drove into Dresden feeling a bit robbed, largely due to having been robbed a few hours earlier at a rest stop on the 13 in the middle of nowhere. But even the sour taste that losing 200 euros left in my mouth wasn't enough to ruin what was my first impression upon standing in Dresden's massive square in the Altstadt. A massive statue of Martin Luther stands near the Frauenkirche, which towers over the city in its baroque splendor. I have to marvel at any country and people that rebuilds to such elegance from the spectre of total ruin.
Dresden is impressive, but it's impossible to not pick up on the "Disney" feel of the Altstadt. Yes, this looks hundreds of years old. But it's at most sixty years old, and most of it not even that old. Yet it blossoms in 2017. And it's still a relatively hidden gem to foreign travelers. While most Americans will be visiting Munich, the Rhine Valley, or Berlin, Dresden is a wonderful spot to enjoy a higher degree of immersion without the sight of tourist maps.