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 Dresden lies on the banks of the river Elbe in the province of Saxony, Germany. The earliest mention of a settlement was in 1206, when a town began to grow up around a castle built to protect the important trade routes and river crossing near the village of Drežďany.

From the 15th century, Dresden was the residence of Saxon dukes, princes and, eventually, kings. Until the unification of Germany in 1870, masterminded by Otto von Bismarck, Saxony was a sovereign state.

Province of Saxony in Germany
Creative Commons AttributionProvince of Saxony in Germany - Credit: David Liuzzo

For centuries, Dresden has been a centre of cultural and intellectul activity. The city had its first heydey of art collecting and architecture between 1697 and 1763, when two Saxon electors were crowned King of Poland. Industrial development following Napoleon's rule of the city led to rapid urban development in the 19th century. The population grew to almost 100,000 and the likes of Ludwig Tieck, Carl Maria von Weber, Carl Gustav Carus and Richard Wagner called the city their home.

Carus's 'View of Dresden from the Brühlschen Terrasse'
Public DomainCarus's 'View of Dresden from the Brühlschen Terrasse' - Credit: The Yorck Project

At the beginning of the 20th century, Dresden was the fourth largest city in the German republic. Despite rapid growth, the city rulers preserved its architectural charm and the city was a popular destination for tourists.

Considered a safe haven for most of World War II, Dresden was largely destroyed by the RAF and USAF bombings and the resulting firestorms of 13-15 February 1945. Up to 25,000 people were killed, and the historic city centre was obliterated. Three months later, the Red Army occupied the city. Many of its important monuments and buildings have subsequently been reconstructed.

Post-war Dresden lay within the Soviet-controlled GDR. Since the re-unification of Germany in 1990, Dresden has regained its status as capital of Saxony, and is once again a popular tourist destination.


Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeDresden - Credit: Kolossos, Wikimedia