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Dresden

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Located on the river Elbe, Dresden is the capital city of the German state of Saxony, with a population of about 500,000.

A Slavic settlement on the right (northern) bank of the river was joined in 1206 by a German town on the left bank, the heart of today's Altstadt (old town). The seat from 1270 of the Wettin landgraves of Meissen and from 1485 of the dukes (from 1547 also electors) of Saxony, between 1806 and 1918 it was the capital of the kingdom of Saxony, a part from 1871 of the German Empire. The city's population quadrupled from 95,000 in 1849 to 396,000 in 1900, surpassing even its rapid growth in the first half of the 18th century.

The city has suffered repeated damage: by fire in 1491, from bombardment in 1760 and during the suppression of a constitutionalist uprising in 1849. Renowned for its architecture, and as a center for elaborate porcelain manufacture (based at nearby Meissen from 1710), the city was largely destroyed by Allied bombing in February 1945 near the end of World War II. In 2002, torrential rains led to the Elbe flooding to 29 feet past its 1845 record height, damaging many landmarks.

One of the major restorations in progress is that of the Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady, which is being rebuilt from the stones of the original church.

See also: Zwinger, Bombing of Dresden in World War II

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