With 55 galleries, 44 museums and 34 theatres and stages, the metropolis on the Elbe comes second to none in terms of art and culture. On the left-hand bank of the Elbe, the baroque Old Town with the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), Semper Opera House, Dresden Zwinger palace, the Royal Palace and the Hofkirche church are as pretty as a picture, attracting 7 million tourists a year from as far away as the USA or China.

But Saxony's second-largest city stands for far more than its rich cultural history. It is an extremely modern city. The Prager Strasse shopping street stretches from the glass cube of the UFA-Kristallpalast cinema to the ball-shaped Kugelhaus building opposite the impressive main train station. Constructed in 1969 as a prestigious example of Socialist architecture, the Kulturpalast was re-opened after renovation work in 2017 and is now one of the few well-preserved buildings in the modernist GDR style.

Today, Dresden also enjoys an excellent reputation in scientific circles. The city has the most research institutions than any other in Germany – more than 40 – making it a focal point for education and research. Roughly 4,000 people work in twelve Fraunhofer Institutes, five Leibnitz Institutes, three Max Planck Institutes, the Helmholtz Centre and the DFG Research Centre. There are also 14 classical universities, universities of cooperative education and other institutes of higher education attended by over 40,000 students. TU Dresden is the only one in eastern Germany to boast the title “University of Excellence”. Dresden’s 144 state schools maintain a supply of prospective students.

On that subject, this liveable city in the Elbe Valley has a lot to offer in terms of family friendliness, with plenty of day-care places, almost 300 playgrounds, school renovation funding in the millions and a large number of family-friendly companies.

In Dresden, it is also very easy to get from A to B, with 12 modern tram routes (making it one of Germany’s biggest tram networks) and 27 bus routes. A motorway intersection and the major A4, A13 and A17 motorways take commuters and weekend-trippers in less than an hour to the Ore Mountains, Saxon Switzerland, the lakes of Lusatia – or on a quick trip to Prague, arriving in time for breakfast. Then, of course, there are the historic paddle steamers on the Elbe.

What is life like in Dresden?

The council is busy building new homes for all the city’s residents and newcomers – 4,569 were built in 2017. The average rental price is a moderate 6 euros per square metre. Dresden’s families do not need to worry about childcare places, either: more than 10,000 new places have been opened up since 2008 in the 402 early years institutions and with 406 childminders.

More than 80 museums and galleries, more than 30 theatres and 18 cinemas offer a colourful programme of events all year round. Rest and relaxation can be found in the tranquil parks, the spacious Elbe meadows, the quiet vineyards and unspoilt woods that cover more than two-thirds of the city area. There is a buzzing nightlife in the Outer Neustadt district, with more than 100 pubs, or the city’s 13 student clubs. Other centres for culture and clubbing include “Strasse E” in the old industrial estate, the central Kraftwerk Mitte or the Alter Schlachthof. From June to August, everyone can enjoy open-air cinema on the banks of the Elbe, or outdoor cultural events at the “Palaissommer” festival.

300 cultural and arts associations and 381 sports clubs keep residents on their toes. Outdoor sports are a particular pleasure in Dresden: running, walking, skating and cycling on the Elbe cycle path or in the Dresdner Heide woods, doing water sports on the Elbe, playing ball games and ice skating in the Ostragehege.

When it comes to healthcare, Dresden has 7 hospitals, 3,381 medical practices and 621 dental practices. The state capital is also proud of its Internet connectivity: there are 524 public wi-fi hotspots in the city centre where you can surf at up to 50 MB a second, and even the outskirts of the city have broadband access.

What is it like to learn and work in Dresden?

Dresden is flourishing. The state capital ranks among Germany's economically strongest areas, taking first place among East German cities in the Future Atlas local economic outlook. Almost 50,000 companies drive the local economy. These include not only the very visible high technology and research in “Silicon Saxony”, with its 1,500 ICT companies from a broad mix of industries, but also the trades, which count almost 7,000 businesses. As the state capital, Dresden is the centre for the region’s administration and services, and the seat of the Saxon state government and parliament.

Dresden’s big employers include GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Volkswagen with its Transparent Factory, NOVALED, Bosch, SAP, von Ardenne, Philip Morris, GlaxoSmithKline and Elbe Flugzeugwerke. As elsewhere in Germany, Dresden’s businesses are desperately looking for workers: 55 per cent of companies report unfilled vacancies and are delighted to receive applications from electronics and metalworking specialists, master craftspeople, mechatronics technicians, engineers and IT specialists.

Picture credits: Mediaserver Dresden, R. Hennig, Frank Exß, Sven Döring, Dr. Igor Semechin