Dresden - The Heart of Saxony

Prices from £2,490


5 Dec 2019 - 10 Dec 2019
Duration: 5 nights
Ref: 19DRES
With: Thomas Abbott


Prices from £2,490
Single Supplement: £390
Deposit: £200

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Elegantly set in a curve of the River Elbe, the city of Dresden was one of the greatest political and cultural centres in the German Empire. As the capital of an electorate, then a kingdom and now a Free State of Saxony, Dresden developed into a shining star of European courtly splendour from the Renaissance to the 19th century. After the firebombing of World War II, Dresden has become a symbol of both the destruction of war and the triumph of the historical restoration. The rebuilt city centre has regained many of its historic buildings and its most famous symbol of reconstruction, the Baroque dome of the Frauenkirche, dominates the heart of the old town once more.

Many of Dresden’s world-class cultural institutions were founded through the munificent patronage of the powerful Elector Augustus the Strong (1670-1733), including the glorious Zwinger palace, with the magnificent Old Masters Picture Gallery, the treasure chamber, or ‘Green Vault’ of the Saxon electors and kings, and the great opera house designed by Gottfried Semper. We will explore the city’s surroundings, country palaces and model suburbs, and the handsome and unspoilt city of Meissen, home of the world-famous porcelain, the first of its kind to be produced in Europe.


Tom Abbott is an independent art and architectural historian. He graduated in Psychology and Art History at Carleton College, Minnesota, and studied at the Louvre School of Art History in Paris. He is a specialist in architectural history from the Baroque to the 20th. In 1987 he moved to Berlin leading tours mainly in Germany, specialising in the German capital.


We fly with BA from London Heathrow to Berlin. On arrival, our private coach takes us to Dresden with a stop en route at a beautifully tiled historic dairy shop in the 18th-century New Town of Dresden. We continue to your historic five-star hotel in the city centre. The atmospheric mediaeval Christmas market is near the hotel and there will be free time to visit before dinner.


Our day in Dresden focuses on a tour of The Royal Palace, with the New Green Vault, the Armoury and the vast ornate tents and armour of the Turkish Chamber. In the afternoon, continue the tour with a visit to legendary Green Vault displaying a dazzling collection of gold and silverwork.


Many of the historic boroughs on the outskirts of Dresden date from the 18th century, some with an unspoilt village core preserved behind apartment blocks of the GDR regime. Visit Pillnitz to see the exterior of the palace built in an ornate Baroque style with chinois elements and idyllically situated between the Elbe and vineyard-covered hills. Taste a slice of traditional Christstollen, renown since 1491 when the Pope permitted Dresden bakers to add butter to this previously abstemious Advent bread. After a walk and lunch in the palace gardens, drive to Pirna, a picturesque town with a late Gothic church and cobbled streets.


A second day in Dresden begins with a visit to the Renaissance Schloss, residence of the electors of Saxony, and the late Baroque Zwinger, originally designed as an orangery and a setting for court festivities, constitute the city’s princely centre. Visit the Zwinger’s Old Master’s Picture Gallery, filled with masterpieces by artists including Raphael, Giorgione, Botticelli, Vermeer and many others. In the afternoon, walk past the Brühlsche Terrasse, the raised Baroque embankment along the Elbe, and visit the Cathedral, final resting place of royalty, including Augustus the Strong, this Catholic church is an anomaly in an otherwise staunchly Protestant province.


Excursion to Meissen to discover how ‘white gold’ is produced in the workshop and museum of the world-famous porcelain factory. Porcelain had been made in Albrechtsburg Castle, one of the first palaces built for splendour rather than defence in Germany. The original late Gothic architecture is complemented by neo-Gothic 19th-century historical murals decorating the palace walls. After a visit to the Gothic Meissen Cathedral, walk through the picturesque old town. This evening there will be a farewell dinner in a Dresden restaurant.


A morning tour of the Albertinum will focus on German Romantic painting (Caspar David Friedrich) and works by the artists of the Expressionist Brücke group. Coach transfer to Berlin airport to fly with BA to London Heathrow.


Twin/double share: £2490 per person
Double room for sole use supplement: £390
'No flights' price: £2290 per person
Deposit: £200


  • Return flights with BA from London Heathrow to Berlin
  • Private coach transfers in Germany
  • Five nights’ bed and breakfast in the 5* Grand Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski
  • Two dinners and two lunches
  • Guided visits to monuments and museums listed in the programme
  • Services of the Lecturer and Tour Manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes & gratuities for coach drivers & waiters


The 5* Grand Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski in the historic centre of Dresden. Originally built in the 18th century by Augustus the Strong, the hotel combines historic grandeur with contemporary elegance. Facilities include a café specialising in afternoon tea, an oak-lined bar and a restaurant with terrace. The luxury spa features an indoor pool, fitness centre and range of treatments. The bedrooms include satellite TV, mini bar, safe, internet access, air conditioning, hair dryer, bathrobes & slippers.