Dresden is the capital of the German federal state of Saxony (Freistaat Sachsen). Dresden is located on the Elbe River and is an industrial, governmental and cultural centre, known worldwide for Bruehl's Terrace and its historic landmarks in the Old Town (Altstadt).
Dresden became a city in 1206 and celebrated its 800th birthday in 2006. 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 appertained to the family of the Wettiner and were closely related to many other European royal families. Many buildings date from their reign. The rich art collections are testimony of their extreme wealth. The "Madonna Sixtina," for instance, was bought by the son of August the Strong. The last Saxon king abdicated in 1918. 75% of the historical centre of Dresden was destroyed by Allied bombing in 1945. These events have left deep scars on the city and are still remembered each year with processions and ceremonies. More than 30,000 people died in the bombing - the exact number is unknown. For many years the ruins and now the newly rebuilt Frauenkirche, with its gold cupola donated from the UK, acts as a call for peace among the different nations of the world.