x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Old and new form an alluring blend in Dresden

German old world charm meets high-tech innovation in the capital of Saxony.

A panoramic view of Dresden, which is often called the  Florence of the Elbe. Jeff Topping / The National
A panoramic view of Dresden, which is often called the Florence of the Elbe. Jeff Topping / The National

With its baroque architecture and cobbled streets, Dresden is a deceptive city. On the surface, the capital of the German state of Saxony seems like the ultimate destination for the retired traveller, but a few kilometres outside the old town is a hub of economic activity with direct links to Abu Dhabi.

With one of the most advanced “tech valleys” in the world, Dresden is home to Advanced Technology Investment Company-owned GlobalFoundries’ first silicon chip fabrication plant. The Fab, which sits opposite an 800-year-old hamlet, is aiming to double its production capacity over the next few years as the European Union looks to boost manufacturing.

There are few places in the world where history and the future collide so seamlessly, but Dresden does it perfectly thanks to German ingenuity and excellence.

So while it may continue to attract pensioners to its galleries and churches, some of the brightest minds are turning to Dresden to develop the field of micro-electronic engineering.

Best hotel: The Innside by Melia is in the heart of the city, but is contemporary with a modern touch in all the rooms. The rooms are on the larger size and the beds are pretty comfortable. The only downside is the €4.50 (Dh22) daily charge for Wi-Fi.

Airport hotel: The Hotel Dresdner Heide is less than 1 kilometre from the airport. This four-star establishment is within easy reach of the city centre via tram and taxi. It has 100 rooms, all with free Wi-Fi. The hotel has a Finnish sauna and one restaurant.

Places to eat: The artist Albert Braun’s former studio has been turned into the Alte Meister cafe and restaurant offering international cuisine. Located in the Theatreplatz, the restaurant has a terrace overlooking the splendid Semper Opera House.

Off hours: Dresden is famous for its architecture, with most of its landmark buildings all within walking distance of each other. The city, historically known as the seat of art and culture in Saxony, continues to exude a level of sophistication unseen in other parts of Germany. Take a tour of the many art galleries, churches and parks. Also check out the world’s most beautiful milk shop.

Getting there: There are no direct flights to Dresden. Visitors flying in from the UAE will have to fly direct to Duesseldorf and take another flight from there. Dresden is also accessible from other German cities by train.