Above: View of the Semperoper from Residenzschloss tower

The idea of vacationing in Dresden may sound slightly ridiculous, as the city is notorious for its devastation by firebombs during World War II. After that, it stagnated behind the Iron Curtain for decades. But slowly and quietly, Dresden has rebuilt itself. In the 1980s, the grand Semperoper, one of the world’s great opera houses, was carefully restored, as was the riverside Catholic cathedral. German reunification hastened the pace of reconstruction, and the elegant dome of the baroque Frauenkirche once again crowns the historic center, the whole of which now bears an astonishing resemblance to Bernardo Bellotto’s 18th-century cityscapes hanging in the Albertinum museum.

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