Dresden’s Grittier Side

One of my priorities when I visit a new place is to see beyond the main streets and to find the places that don’t make the cover of the guidebook; they’re not traditionally photogenic and they’re perhaps a bit grubby looking, if truth be told, but they’re just as important as the  scenic routes.

Dresden is a fairly easy city to navigate your way around and so it wasn’t too difficult to find its alternative side, beyond the stunning Frauenkirche and the art galleries.

Concrete tower block with rainbow graffiti in Dresden

A splash of graffiti brightened up this tower block.

Like any city, there are parts of Dresden that don’t get the same attention as others – parts that don’t have to be tourist-ready and where the effects of the recession can be seen. Some of the resulting decay and street art that has appeared is really intriguing and I found myself drawn to it, whereas some examples were quite sad, with endless broken windows and tired looking shops.

Decaying building with broken windows and sprayed graffiti tags in Dresden, Germany

What looked to be residential once upon a time was now left to crumble slowly.

The streets also bear plenty of remnants from the days of East Germany and Communist rule. There are loads of stark and utilitarian housing blocks that stand out against central Dresden’s enthusiasm for art and antiques. Going from quirky places like the Kunst Cafe Antik to these charmless lumps of concrete was interesting, to say the least.

Tower block with graffiti in Germany

Another one that didn’t make it into the guidebooks.

The one shop that seemed pretty vibrant in this residential area was a tattoo parlour, which I thought was quite appropriate, considering the way that the faceless concrete blocks are being tattooed with spray paint by locals.

Tattoo studio window with graphic designs.

A giant blood-spattered blade is perhaps a friendly welcome for tattoo enthusiasts.

This mural also caught my eye, as it’s a work in progress and the creator has put himself into the scene as the painter on the steps, with a trompe l’oeil effect. It feels very personal when compared to the lazy tagging system of some graffiti artists. I’m guessing this work was approved by the council, as it’s on a large scale on the edge of a car park.

Painted mural with trompe l'oeil in Dresden

Check out the trompe l’oeil on this.

Although these images aren’t exactly a tourism PR’s dream, I think they show the reality behind the gloss. I’m all for seeing every side to a destination if it means that I get to know it better.

Do these kind of photos put you off or encourage you to visit? Let me know.

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