Sitting in baroque splendor on a wide sweep of the Elbe River, Dresden has been the capital of Saxony since the 15th century, although most of its architectural masterpieces date from the enlightenment of the 18th century and the reigns of Augustus the Strong and his son, Frederick Augustus II. Today the city’s yellow and pale-green facades are enormously appealing, and their mere presence is even more overwhelming when you compare what you see with photographs of Dresden from February 1945. That’s when Allied bombing destroyed almost all of the Altstadt (Old City). Today, Dresden has risen from these ashes, regaining its reputation as "the Florence on the Elbe."
Although parts of the city center still look stuck between demolition and construction, the city’s rebuilding is an enormous tribute to Dresdeners' skill, dedication, and thoroughness. The resemblance of today's riverside to Dresden cityscapes painted by Canaletto in the mid-1700s is remarkable. Unfortunately, war-inflicted gaps in other parts of the city are far too massive to be reconstructed anytime soon. Main sights are contained within the Altstadt. On the other side of the river, the Neustadt (New City), which escaped wartime destruction, is the place to go out at night.