A Weekend in Dresden


Friday, I arrived in Dresden bright and early, ready to check items off of my bucket list. I immediately took a historical tour of the Altstadt and learned about the history of the Frauenkirche, various buildings and monuments, seemingly random streets, the tales of knights and kings, and post-WWII reconstruction of the city: I fell in love with the beauty and history of Dresden then.

I continued to explore museums, including the Historisches Grünes Gewölbe, a king’s collection of treasures, and the Deutsches Hygiene Museum. While passing the theater house on my way to the Zwinger gardens and the Residenzschloss, on a whim I decided to attend a play. After leaving the (very conceptual and confusing) play, I walked on the banks of the Elbe to get to my AirBnb, watching the sun set. Everything felt magical.

The next day, I explored the Neustadt by going on a fascinating tour of street art and the Kunsthofpassage, and then went on a long walk through the neighborhood to see its various churches, quirks and restaurants.

Saturday also provided time for me to learn about the alt-right presence in Dresden, as the anti-immigration and anti-refugee organizations Pegida and the AfD have a very strong base in the city, as well as its DDR history.

These political and historical lessons are pertinent to my internship work, as the former eastern-German city and its modern-day alt-right scene impact the lives of refugees in the present. My friends and colleagues at my internship have described negative experiences they’ve had with political racism in Germany, and we discussed how Dresden can be a difficult place for refugees to live.

On Sunday, I attended a lovely church service at the Kreuzkirche, then went to the amazing Albertinum museum before taking one last walk along the Elbe and through the Neustadt. My long weekend in Dresden could not have been more transformative—I feel more independent (though it’s cliche)—and hope to go back one day. I truly appreciated how I was able to learn so much more about Germany, its history and refugee issues, by taking a step further east for three sunny days.


About Author

Sophia Nissler ‘21 is an Arab studies and history major from the Chapel Hill, North Carolina, area. She is currently interning at a refugee services organization in Halle (Saale), Germany.

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