Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area. Although Dresden is a relatively recent city of Slavic origin, the area had been settled in the Neolithic era by Linear Pottery culture tribes ca. 7500 BC. Dresden's founding and early growth is associated with the eastward expansion of Germanic peoples, mining in the nearby Ore Mountains, and the establishment of the Margraviate of Meissen. Its name etymologically derives from Old Sorbian Drežďany, meaningpeople of the riverside forest. Dresden later evolved into the capital of Saxony.
Dresden has a long history as the capital and royal residence for the Electors and Kings of Saxony, who for centuries furnished the city with cultural and artistic splendour. The city was known as the Jewel Box, because of its baroque and rococo city centre. A controversial Allied aerial bombing towards the end of World War II killed thousands of civilians and destroyed the entire city centre. The impact of the bombing and 40 years of urban development during the East German communist era have considerably changed the face of the city. Some restoration work has helped to reconstruct parts of the historic inner city, including the Katholische Hofkirche, the Semper Oper and the Dresdner Frauenkirche. Since the German reunification in 1990, Dresden has regained importance as one of the cultural, educational, political and economic centres of Germany.
The historical centre of Dresden is located on the left bank of the Elbe, at the peak of a graceful river bend. Protected for centuries by mighty fortifications, the Saxon capital developed splendour and activity. Even today the buildings from the Renaissance, baroque and 19th century determine the Elbe front and the face of our city. Viewed from the opposite bank or from one of the Elbe bridges Dresden presents itself at first glance as a cultural city of European rank.
In spite of it's traumatic war years, the Old City part of Dresden has preserved or regained much of it's historic past. The most famous symbol of reconstruction in the city centre is the Dresden Frauenkirche Church, the magnificent baroque dome, which dominates the cityscape. Many important cultural institutions are situated along the Old City-side of the Elbe banks: from the Old Masters Picture Gallery to the Green Vault, the treasure chamber of the Saxon electors and kings.
The area of the new part of the city between the Elba and Albertplatz has been transformed into the most popular place in Dresden. Filled with 4 or 5 storey buildings of the 18th century, along Keningstrasse. At first sight this street may seem quite dull, but look deeper and you'll find beautiful gangways and cozy courtyards with good cafes and restaurants. There are also a lot of boutiques, galleries, antique shops and a mall theatre. If you want to do some shopping, go to Hauptstrasse. At the Alkmarkt and Pragestrasse in the ancient part of the city you'll find department stores and shopping centres.
The majority of national dishes that are offered to visitors in restaurants of Dresden belong to the Saxony kitchen. Roast beef is the most popular local meat. Meat here is thoroughly marinated in vinegar and spices before cooking, so it has its unforgettable aroma. For first course the most popular local delicacy is, without a doubt, potato soup. Anyone with a sweet tooth will love the wonderful local dish - Eierschecke - a delicious cake with cream cheese and raisins. Quarkkäulchen curd is the most popular dessert among locals. In addition to the restaurants that serve traditional cuisine, you will find high quality French, Spanish, Italian and even Turkish restaurants. The vast majority of trendy establishments are located in Neustadt. A walk here will be of a great interest to every lover of good food.
- The Dresden Frauenkirche literally Church of Our Lady, is a Lutheran church, built in the 18th century, the church was destroyed in the firebombing of Dresden during World War II. It has been reconstructed as a landmark symbol of reconciliation between former warring enemies. The reconstruction of its exterior was completed in 2004, its interior in 2005 and, after 13 years of rebuilding, the church was reconsecrated on 30 October 2005 with festive services lasting through the Protestant observance of Reformation Day on 31 October. Once a month, an Anglican Evensong in English is held in the Church of Our Lady, with clergy sent from St. George's Anglican Chaplaincy in Berlin. Since re-opening, the Church of Our Lady has been a hugely popular tourist destination in Dresden. In the first three years after the re-opening, seven million people have visited the church. The project has inspired other revitalization projects throughout Europe.
- The Katholische Hofkirche is a Roman Catholic Cathedral. Previously the most important Catholic parish church of the city, it was elevated to cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dresden-Meissen in 1964. It is located near the Elbe River in the historic center of Dresden. The Hofkirche stands as one of Dresden's foremost landmarks. It was designed by architect Gaetano Chiaveri from 1738 to 1751. The church was commissioned by Frederick Augustus II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland while the protestant city of Dresden built the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) between 1726 and 1743. The Elector decided that a catholic church was needed in order to counterbalance the protestant Frauenkirche. In the crypt the heart of King August the Strong is buried along with the last King of Saxony and the remains of 49 other members of the Wettin family as well as people who married into the family, such as Princess Maria Carolina of Savoy, wife of Anthony of Saxony. The church was badly damaged during the war and was restored during the mid-1980s under the East German regime. Today it is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dresden-Meissen.
- Dresden Castle is one of the oldest buildings in Dresden. For almost 400 years, it has been the residence of the electors (1547–1806) and kings (1806–1918) of Saxony. It is known for the different architectural styles employed, from Baroque to Neo-renaissance. Today, the residential castle is a museum complex that contains the Historic and New Green Vault, the Coin Cabinet, the Collection of Prints, Drawings and Photographs and the Turkish Chamber. It also houses an art library and the management of the Dresden State Art Collections. Most of the castle was reduced to a roofless shell during the war. The Heraldic, Jewel, Silver and Bronze Rooms were all destroyed. However, the collections survived, having been moved to safety at Königstein Fortress in the early years of the war. For the first 15 years after the end of the Second World War, no attempt was made to rebuild the castle, except to install a temporary roof in 1946. Restoration began in the 1960s with the installation of new windows and has occurred rapidly since then. The castle's restoration is due to be completed in 2013
- The Semperoper is the opera house of the Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden (Saxon State Opera, Dresden) and the concert hall of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden (Saxon State Orchestra, Dresden). It is located near the Elbe River in the historic center of Dresden. The opera house was originally built by the architect Gottfried Semper in 1841. After a devastating fire in 1869, the opera house was rebuilt, partly again by Semper, and completed in 1878. The opera house has a long history of premieres, including major works by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss.
- The Zwinger (Der Dresdner Zwinger) is a palace, built in Baroque style. It served as the orangery, exhibition gallery and festival arena of the Dresden Court. The location was formerly part of the Dresden fortress of which the outer wall is conserved. The name derives from the German word Zwinger (outer ward of a concentric castle); it was for the cannons that were placed between the outer wall and the major wall. The Zwinger was not enclosed until the Neoclassical building by Gottfried Semper called the Semper Gallery was built on its northern side. Today, the Zwinger is a museum complex that contains the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery), the Dresden Porcelain Collection (Porzellansammlung), the Armory (Rüstkammer) and the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon (Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments).
Der Dresdner Zwinger