It was home to many Saxon princes and kings, the most famous of them being August der Starke (Augustus the Strong), whose kingdom included Poland as well. They apertained to the family of the Wettiner and were closely related to many other European royal families. Many buildings date from their reign and especially the rich art collections are testimony of their extreme wealth. The "Madonna Sixtina" was for instance bought by the son of August the Strong. The last Saxon king abdicated in 1918.
Florence of the North" is how Dresden has been called. A southern city in the North, a Baroque metropolis. The city experienced its golden age in the first half of the 18th century under the rule of Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. The Zwinger, the cathedral, the Baroque Knigstrae, Pillnitz Palace and not least the countless art treasures of the museums and priceless wealth of the "Green Vault" treasure chamber all testify to this era.
In the 19th century painters, sculptors, authors and musicians - representatives of the early romantics - met here. Dresden was an innovative economic location and one of the richest cities in Germany. Today one can discover the largest villa quarter in the country. The district around Martin-Luther-Platz emerged at the turn of the century with an alternative city culture, with its own theatre, modern music and pubs. The picturesque and architecturally interesting Hellerau Garden City provides a worthwhile detour.
The special atmosphere in the City - characterised by the apparent contradictions of the dreamy, almost conventional lifestyle of a royal residence and a creative, cosmopolitan cultural centre - has attracted and inspired countless poets and friends of literature over the centuries. At the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries Dresden became one of the centres of German literature, especially for the Romantic movement. The salons held by Christian Gottfried Krner, and later the house of Ludwig Tieck, were popular meeting places for great poets such as Goethe, Schiller, Herder, Kleist and Novalis and important philosophers such as Humboldt and the Schlegel brothers.
The fine arts as well have enjoyed a long tradition in Dresden. Even back in the Middle Ages, important artists of the time were active in Dresden with commissions from the Saxon court. The Dresden Art Academy, today's College of Fine Arts, whose roots stretch back to the 17th century, acquired considerable importance. One of its most illustrious teachers, from 1764, was Bernardo Belotto, better known as Canaletto, the painter of the world-famous townscapes of Dresden. At the beginning of the 19th century, painters such as Anton Graff and Adrian Zingg made the Dresden Academy one of the most important art schools in Europe.
Dresden has about ten million tourists a year, most of them from Germany. The Zwinger was rebuilt in 1964, the Semper Opera house in 1985, and the now most famous landmark of Dresden, the Frauenkirche, in 2005. When asked what they like most about their city, Dresden citizens will reply Old Town (which is quite compact, even though it has a lot of well-known attractions and museums of worldwide meaning), Dresden-Neustadt (an alternative central quarter) and the surroundings like the wine town Radebeul, the climbing area Saxon Switzerland, lots of castles, and most of the city landscape of about 80 quarters.
The number of international tourism is growing, especially with the US and China. Dresden is a stop between Prague and Berlin, and that's why just one city quarter is recommended. Architecurally, Blasewitz is the most interesting living quarter, despite it being a hilly landscape.