Saturday, 16 March 2013

Dresden Grosser Garten Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 8.5 km (5.3 miles), terrain flat 

Pictures courtesy of the creative folks at Flickr Creative Commons. Thanks! 

Dresden running routes:
Dresden Old Town/New Town
Dresden Elbe River Route
Dresden Grosser Garten Route
For more running routes, see Route List.

If you're staying in central Dresden, here is a nice, pleasant jog through the city's biggest park, the Großer Garten ("Great Garden").

The Großer Garten is a rectangle, 1km by 2km long, just a few blocks southeast of the old town. The park has a variety of sights: a zoo, a small palace, ponds, gardens, woods, a mini railroad, an outdoor theater, a botanical garden. There is a stadium at the west end, and even an amazing VW factory with glass walls and parquet floors!
The mini steam train crossing path in Grosser Garten. Photo by Pischty Hufnagel
The Großer Garten is almost 300 years old, begun as a royal party hangout for the Saxon dukes. There isn't a huge amount of formal decoration or statues to be found: most of them were destroyed in various wars, leaving most of the park as simple lawns or woods. That makes it a nice, relaxed place to run.

We'll start this run in the old heart of town, in the Altmarkt square. Before Dresden was fire-bombed, this market-square was a lively center of commerce, surrounded by the town's main shops and the old town hall. In the aftermath of World War II, the area was rebuilt in much simpler style.
Dresden Altmarkt, photo by Frank Hamm
Luckily, the buildings lining the east- and west sides were done with a lot more detail than was usual in socialist East Germany. Unfortunately, the Kulturpalast on the north side, was done in the typical faceless socialist modernism, right behind the castle.

The big black church at the southeast corner of the market, the Kreuzkirche, is fascinating in its own way. It was also burned out in the war (hence the blackened stone), and there was hardly money to rebuild it. So it was decided to just plaster over most of the gothic interior instead of really restoring it. It looked like someone had sprayed a bunch of concrete over all the ruined details, creating a feeling of being in a man-made cave, dripping with grey pudding.
Kreuzkirche, photo by hellaken
People got so used to the new interior, that after reunification it was decided not to really restore it properly, just to make it a bit less weird. So the strange plaster-work was smoothed down a bit and painted white, so it no longer feels like you're 100 meters underground, with bats ready to fly out from behind the alter. You should definitely take a look inside sometime.
Inside the Kreuzkirche, photo by Lutz Staacke
Start the run by running to the church and then run eastwards along the left side of the church on Kreuzstraße. Just behind the church you'll pass by the long grey side of the city hall, with its round tower.

When you get to the other (front) side of the city hall, you'll come into a square and then a busy street. The street follows the line of the old city walls. Beyond it was outside the old town, including the Großer Garten.

Just cross the street, then continue straight through the park-like open-space with the skate-board park. Run past the stone gate-house along Lingnerallee, the street with the lawn in the median-strip.

You'll pass the art-deco Hygiene Museum (only in Germany, I'm sure!) on the right and then a public swimming pool.

When the street ends at Lennéstraße, the Großer Garten begins. The main entrance is right across the street. But let's take a detour here to see a couple of other interesting things before we enter the park.

Turn left and run 100 meters down Lennéstraße. On the right side, you'll pass the entrance to the park's mini-railroad (runs April to October) and then a modern building that looks like a modern art museum. This is actually a car factory, VW's "Transparent Factory", where they assemble their top-of-the-line Phaetons.
Can this be a car factory? VW's Transparent Factory, photo by Wolfsraum
You can run close to the building itself and look into the factory through the glass walls. The floors are all maple parquet. Most of the parts are delivered on a special cargo tram to reduce the amount of truck traffic through the neighborhood.
The VW CarGoTram, photo by mv-foto
Turn the corner to the right at Stübelallee and run eastwards along the north side of the factory and then past the botanical garden.

When the iron fence of the botanical garden ends, turn right into the Großer Garten on the dirt path.

This first path follows the eastern edge of the botanical garden, and ends at one of the main paths through the Großer Garten, Herkulesallee.

Turn left and keep going east along Herkulesallee. After a stretch of woods, you'll come to a flower garden on the left. There is a cross-path here, so turn right onto that path and you'll see the park's baroque Palais right ahead, in the center of the park. This was the royal party house back in the park's good old days.
The Palais, photo by lychee vanilla
Run past the palace, then turn left to run behind it, along the long formal pond to the east.

After the pond, this main path, Hauptallee, continues straight through the park until it ends with the twin columns at Karcherallee. Just for variety, and to add a bit of distance, keep going straight into the villa neighborhood ahead, along Winterbergstraße.
Beautiful lighting over the pond. Photo by Juraj Kubica
At the first turnoff to the right, Basteistraße, turn right, going past the nice old houses from the Gründerzeit (Victorian age).

Turn right at the next corner, Königsteinstraße, and run back to the park after this short loop.

Now run into to park along the Südallee trail, heading west. You'll pass the Junge Garde open air stage on the left and later cross a bridge over a stream. Turn left on the path on the far side of the bridge.

In 100 meters you'll be at Carolasee, a little lake with a café, the Carolaschlösschen.
Carolasee pond, photo by Veit Schagow
Turn right at the water to follow the lakeside past the café, going north. At the north end of the little lake, there's a boat-rental place.

You'll then cross a cross-street, where you can see the Palais off to the right. But keep running straight north on the path ahead. You will now go by the zoo on your left side. This path will follow the zoo perimeter.

You'll also pass a funny little train station for the park mini-railroad about half-way along the zoo.

The path will curve to the left as you get to the north end of the zoo. Follow the curve, but then, when the zoo fence curves further to the south, turn on the path to the right and keep going west until you hit Linnéstraße again.

You'll see the big, newly refurbished soccer stadium across the street, to the north. But just cross the street and follow the path into the next little park ahead, the Bürgerwiese.

This strip of green lawn lines Parkstraße for a few hundred meters until it comes to the strange, wide prairie of park-like spaces and parking lots between a knot of roads that all converge at St. Petersburger Straße. You can tell that nobody figured out what to do with the bombed-out land all these years, and they left way too much space for the streets.

Cross St. Petersburger Straße towards the city hall, with its big tower. Turn left at the city hall, running along Dr.-Külz-Ring for two more blocks until you see the Kreuzkirche and Altmarkt to your right. Turn right on Seestraße and run the three blocks north back to the Altmarkt.

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