Dresden is the capital of the German federal state of Saxony (Freistaat Sachsen). It's often referred to locally as Elbflorenz, or "Florence on the Elbe", reflecting its location on the Elbe river and its historical role as a centre for arts and beautiful architecture - much like Florence in Italy. While Florence flourished during the early renaissance, the Golden Age of Dresden was in the 18th century when, under August the Strong and his son, Friedrich August II, Saxony was a rich and important state and the rulers invested in lush architectural projects in their capital and supported artists of worldwide renown.
Although Dresden suffered catastrophic damage from allied bombing in 1945 and then lost much of its remaining architectural heritage at the hands of the socialist city planners of the GDR era, the city managed to resurrect its charm by rebuilding the most important landmarks, culminating with the reconstruction of the famous Frauenkirche- completed just in time for the city's 800th birthday in 2006.
Today, Dresden remains a charming, relaxed and in many ways beautiful city and has become a very popular tourist destination, in addition to being a regional economic, political and academic centre. Dresden gets about ten million tourists a year, most from Germany, with the Czech Republic, the USA, Russia and Japan being the most frequent countries of origin of foreign visitors. Read more