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 splendor, and was once by personal union the family seat of Polish monarchs. The city was known as the Jewel Box, because of its baroque and rococo city centre. The controversial American and British bombing of Dresden in World War II towards the end of the war killed approximately 25,000 people, many of whom were civilians, and destroyed the entire city centre. After the war, restoration work has helped to reconstruct parts of the historic inner city, including the Katholische Hofkirche, the Zwinger and the famous Semper Oper.
Since German reunification in 1990 Dresden is again a cultural, educational and political centre of Germany and Europe. The Dresden University of Technology is one of the 10 largest universities in Germany and part of the German Universities Excellence Initiative. The economy of Dresden and its agglomeration is one of the most dynamic in Germany and ranks first in Saxony. It is dominated by high-tech branches, often called as “Silicon Saxony”. The city is also one of the most visited in Germany with 4.3 million overnight stays per year, with their Christmas markets attracting many during the holidays. The royal buildings are among the most impressive buildings in Europe. Main sights are also the nearby National Park of Saxon Switzerland, the Ore Mountains and the countryside around Elbe Valley and Moritzburg Castle. The most prominent building in the city skyline of Dresden is the Frauenkirche. Built in the 18th century, the Protestant church was destroyed during World War II. The remaining ruins were left for 50 years as a war memorial. The remains were also left in the city center of Dresden because funds to rebuild the Frauenkirche were scarce. The newly built Frauenkirche has charred stones from the destroyed church adapted with new stones as a reminder of the destruction from World War II. The church was rebuilt from 1994 to 2005.
According to the Hamburgische Weltwirtschaftsinstitut (HWWI) and Berenberg Bank in 2017, Dresden has the fourth best prospects for the future of all cities in Germany.
Although Dresden is a relatively recent city of Germanic origin followed by settlement of Slavic people, the area had been settled in the Neolithic era by Linear Pottery culture tribes ca. 5500 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, meaning people of the forest. Dresden later evolved into the capital of Saxony.
Around the late 12th century, a Slavic settlement called Drežďany had developed on the southern bank. Another settlement existed on the northern bank, but its Slavic name is unknown. It was known as Antiqua Dresdin by 1350, and later as Altendresden, both literally "old Dresden". Dietrich, Margrave of Meissen, chose Dresden as his interim residence in 1206, as documented in a record calling the place "Civitas Dresdene".