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Sometimes referred to as "the Florence of the Elbe", Dresden is one of Germany's most beautiful cities. Originally a Slav fishing village, the city rose to prominence in 1485, when it became the seat of the Duchy of Saxony. Dresden then flourished with its new-found wealth and influence - and in 1547 the Prince Electors of the Holy Roman Empire also chose to hold their court in the city.

For centuries Dresden was furnished with beautiful architecture and a rich cultural life; this was bolstered in the early 18th century, when Augustus the Strong became Duke of Saxony. During his reign the city was transformed into a magnificent Baroque centre - and one of Europe's finest capitals. Yet easily the most famous moment in Dresden's history came in February 1945, when Allied forces bombed the city, effectively razing it to the ground. But despite such destruction, the city recovered relatively quickly and many of its finest buildings were lovingly restored.

More about Dresden

Once again, Dresden enjoys a deserved reputation as one of Germany's most important cultural centres and includes a number of must-see attractions.

Residenz Palace
Also known as Dresden Castle, this colossal building was the official main palace of the Duchy of Saxony. It was very badly damaged but has since been extensively restored, and in 2005 the famous Green Vault re-opened. This beautiful chamber dating from 1733 is a true highlight of the castle, containing many of the Duchy's priceless and opulent treasures.

Semper Opera House
Set on a sweeping square, the stunning Semper Opera House is world-famous and often premieres major works. Completed in 1841, the building is breathtakingly ornate throughout, and well worth a visit.

Zwinger Palace
This glorious palace, built entirely for leisure purposes, was seen as the pinnacle of baroque Dresden. This impressive structure is surrounded by a moat and today features several museums, along with a huge art gallery. Having been painstakingly restored, today the much-loved attraction is a true icon of Dresden's skyline.

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