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Deck the halls in Dresden – a vibrant city steeped in history Nestled on the banks of the Elbe river, the capital city of the Free State of Saxony is without doubt one of the most beautiful towns of Europe as the rococo and baroque eras have clearly left their marks on the city’s architecture. For the Christmas season the city shifts up a gear and shines in full glory as the 580th Dresdner Striezelmarkt will be proudly opened. TEXT: TINA AWTANI | PHOTOS: LANDESHAUPTSTADT DRESDEN/SYLVIO DITTRICH

The history of Dresden dates back 800 years and what started as a Slavic fishing village became home of choice for Electors and Kings for centuries. Today Dresden is located close to the Czech border and visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to pick sightseeing spots. Landmark buildings are plenty, the Zwinger is one of Germany’s most famous baroque buildings, the castles Moritzburg and Pillnitz are prime examples of baroque architecture, the world famous Frauenkirche [Church of our Lady] features one of Europe’s highest domes and the

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iconic Semperoper are just a tiny selection of grand sights worth exploring. “The capital of Christmas” Although the city was completely destroyed in 1945, today Dresden shines more beautiful than ever as the whole town has been carefully restored with painstaking attention to detail. With Christmas on the doorstep, seasonal decoration graces the city and millions of twinkling lights serve as the perfect backdrop for a stroll along the Christmas markets, where the aroma of

roasted almonds, freshly grilled Bratwurst or mulled wine fill the air.“Dresden is the capital of Christmas. Apart from the Dresdner Striezelmarkt, a whole Christmas mile creates a thrill of anticipation.The sparkling string of lights consists of eleven differently themed markets and stretches from the central station to the Prager Straße to the Altmarkt and leads from the Frauenkirche to the Neumarkt to the other side of the Elbe river,”explains Sigrid Förster, head of communal markets, City Department of Economic Affairs, Dresden. The Altmarkt square sets the stage for Germany’s oldest Christmas market, the socalled Striezelmarkt, which dates back to 1434. The word striezel refers to a long plaited bun type of pastry and today’s version is called stollen, resembling a fruit cake with icing sugar. Absolutely unique in style