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Dresden Has More Than Its Frauenkirche -- Try the Milk Store

Most visitors to Dresden flock to its recently restored Frauenkirche, the famous Baroque Zwinger building and the Old Masters Gallery, but the historical Molkerei (creamery) is a wonder unto itself.

The traditional Molkerei, or creamery, in Dresden

The Molkerei -- a must for any Dresden visitor

The inside of Dresden's Molkerei -- the German word for creamery -- is a kaleidoscope of color. Its walls, ceiling and floor are covered with thousands of tiles in all different hues.

So unique is the creamery that it's made a record as the "prettiest milk store in the world" in the Guinness Book of World Records. Dozens of angels and putti, animals and flowers are depicted on the hand-painted tiles, spread across thousands of square feet.

"Up to 1,000 visitors come every day," managing director Frank Zabel told German news agency DPA.

Survived World War II

The creamery was built 125 years ago by the Pfund Brothers. Even today, visitors can buy cheese and milk at the 4-meter-long (13 feet) counter. The fronts of the traditional "ice boxes" are still there too, but the original insides have been replaced with modern refrigerators.

A woman spreading her arms on a hand-painted, old-fashioned tile

The hand-painted tiles lure one into the shop

Leaving the village of Reinholdshain, Paul Gustav Leander Pfund went to Dresden in 1879 with his wife, six children and a herd of pigs. He started up the creamy business, which his brother Friedrich later joined. Paul developed new products and manufacturing methods, improved hygienic processes and accessed new markets. He was the first in Germany to produce condensed milk. He introduced pasteurization in 1900.

The two Pfund brothers had a flourishing business that included several stores, their own insurance company, company housing and a swimming pool, as well as a kindergarten. When Paul died in 1923, his children took over the business, which also remarkably withstood World War II and the massive destruction of Dresden.

Not succumbing to GDR deco

In 1972, the business became state-run in socialist East Germany, with the variety of products reduced to just three sorts of cheese and milk.

But Zabel told DPA that the creamery was spared of the typical GDR decorating style.

"People were able to stop plans to destroy the traditional tiles that were supposed to be replaced by plastic paneling," he said.

An outside view of the Pfund creamery

Molkerei Pfund has been called the "most beautiful creamery in the world"

After the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, the business virtually disappeared. But, gaining inheritance rights, one of Paul's great-grandchildren restored the creamery to its former glory and founded the Dresdener Molkerei Gebrüder Pfund GmbH.

Zabel said that five percent of the old tiles had to be replaced; the rest were restored, with the store opening up in 1995. Now, cheese lovers can choose from 120 different sorts and wash it down with a glass of milk.

The building also houses a restaurant and gift shop, where visitors can buy tile replicas. But they may just have to elbow their way in: on some days, a slew of buses are lined up outside -- packed with tourists.

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