AskDefine | Define dresden

Dictionary Definition

Dresden n : a city in southeastern Germany on the Elbe River; it was almost totally destroyed by British air raids in 1945

Extensive Definition

Dresden (etymologically from Old Sorbian Drežďany, meaning people of the riverside forest, ) is the capital city of the German Federal Free State of Saxony. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area.
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 splendour. The controversial bombing of Dresden in World War II by the British Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force, plus 40 years in the Soviet bloc state of the German Democratic Republic as well as contemporary city development has changed the face of the city broadly. Considerable restoration work has settled the damage.
Since German reunification in 1990, Dresden has emerged as a cultural, political, and economic centre in the eastern part of Germany.



Dresden lies on both banks of the river Elbe, mostly in the Dresden Elbe Valley Basin, with the further reaches of the eastern Ore Mountains to the south, the steep slope of the Lusatian granitic crust to the north, and the Elbe Sandstone Mountains to the east at an altitude of about 113 meters. The highest point of Dresden is about 384 meters in altitude.
With a pleasant location and a mild climate on the Elbe, as well as Baroque-style architecture and numerous world-renowned museums and art collections, Dresden has been called "Elbflorenz" (Florence of the Elbe). The incorporation of neighboring rural communities over the past 60 years has made Dresden the fourth largest urban district by area in Germany after Berlin, Hamburg, and Cologne.


The nearest German cities are Chemnitz (80 km to the southwest), Leipzig (100 km to the northwest) and Berlin (200 km to the north). The Czech capital Prague is about 150 km to the south; the Polish city of Wrocław is about 200 km to the east.
Greater Dresden, which includes the neighboring districts of Kamenz, Meißen, Riesa-Großenhain, Sächsische Schweiz, Weißeritzkreis and part of the district of Bautzen, has a population of around 1,250,000 .


Dresden claims to be one of the greenest cities in Europe, with 63% of the city being green areas and forests. The Dresdner Heide to the north is a forest 50 km² in size. There are four nature reserves. The additional Special Conservation Areas cover 18 km². The protected gardens, parkways, parks and old graveyards host 110 natural monuments in the city. The Dresden Elbe Valley is a world heritage site which is focused on the conservation of the cultural landscape in Dresden. One important part of that landscape is the Elbe meadows which cross the city, 20 kilometers long.


Dresden has a cold-moderate to continental climate. The microclimate in the Elbe valley differs from that on the slopes and in the higher areas. Klotzsche, at 227 meters above sea level, hosts the Dresden weather station. The weather in Klotzsche is 1-3°C colder than in the inner city. In summer, temperatures in the city often remain at 20°C even at midnight.
The average temperature in January is −0.7°C and in July 18.1°C. Summers are hotter in Dresden and winters are colder than the German average. The inner city temperature is 10.2°C averaged over the year. The driest months are February and March, with precipitation of 40 mm. The wettest months are July and August, with 60 mm per month.

Flood protection

Because of its location on the banks of the Elbe, into which some water sources from the Ore Mountains flow, flood protection is important. Large areas are kept free of buildings to provide a floodplain. Two additional trenches about 50 meters wide have been built to keep the inner city free of water from the Elbe river by dissipating the water downstream through the inner city's gorge portion. Flood regulation systems like detention basins and water reservoirs are almost all outside the city area.
The Weißeritz, a normally rather small river suddenly ran directly into the main station of Dresden during the 2002 European floods.
However, many locations and areas have to be defended by walls and sheet pilings. A number of districts become waterlogged if the Elbe river is flooding some of its old bayous.

City structuring

Dresden is a spacious city. Its districts differ in their structure and appearance. Many parts still contain an old village core, while some quarters are almost completely preserved as rural settings. Other characteristic kinds of urban areas are the historic outskirts of the city, and the former suburbs with scattered housing. During the German Democratic Republic, many apartment blocks were built. The original parts of the city are almost all in the districts of Altstadt (Old town) and Neustadt (New town). Growing outside the city walls, the historic outskirts were built in the 18th century. They were planned and constructed on the orders of the Saxon monarchs, which is why the outskirts are often named after sovereigns. From the 19th century the city grew by incorporating other districts. Dresden has been divided into ten districts called "Ortsamtsbereich" and nine former boroughs ("Ortschaften") which have been incorporated.


Dresden is a city with more than 100 000 inhabitants since 1852, being the third German city that reached the mark. The number of population peaked at 649 252 in 1933 but marked an all-time low of 450 000 after World War II when large resident areas of the city were destroyed. After large incorporations and city restoration the population grew up to 522 532 again between 1950 and 1983.
Since German reunification demographic development is very unsteady. The city had to struggle with migration and suburbanization. The number of population was raised to 480 000 by several incorporations during the 1990s after it fell to 452 827 in 1998. Between 2002 and 2007 the population grew quickly by more than 28 000 inhabitants due to a stabilized economy and reurbanization. Alongside Leipzig, Dresden is one of the ten fastest growing cities in Germany while the population of surrounding New Länder is still shrinking.
In Dresden, about 51.3% of the population is female. Foreigners account for about 4%. The mean age of the population is 43 years, which is the lowest among the urban districts in Saxony.


Although Dresden is a younger city of Slavic origin, the area had been settled in the Neolithic era by Linear Pottery culture tribes ca. 7500 BC. Dresden's founding and early growth is associated with the eastward expansion of Germanic peoples, ("alluvial forest dwellers" ) had developed on the southern bank. Another settlement existed on the northern bank, but its Slavic name is unclear. It was known as Antiqua Dresdin verifiable since 1350 and later as Altendresden. Dietrich, Margrave of Meissen, chose Dresden as his interim residence in 1206, as documented in a record calling the place "Civitas Dresdene".
After 1270 Dresden became the capital of the margravate. It was restored to the Wettin dynasty in about 1319. From 1485 it was the seat of the dukes of Saxony, and from 1547 the electors as well.

Dresden in modern Europe

The Elector and ruler of Saxony Frederick Augustus I (1670-1733) was King August the Strong of Poland in personal union. He gathered many of the best musicians , architects and painters from all over Europe to Dresden. His reign marked the beginning of Dresden's emergence as a leading European city for technology and art. Dresden suffered heavy destruction in the Seven Years' War (1756-1763). Friedrich Schiller wrote his Ode to Joy (the literary base of the European anthem) for the Dresden Masonic Lodge in 1785.
Between 1806 and 1918 the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Saxony (which was a part of the German Empire from 1871). During the Napoleonic Wars the French emperor made it a base of operations, winning there a famous battle on August 27 1813. Dresden was a center of the German Revolutions in 1849 with the May Uprising, which cost human lives and damaged the historic town of Dresden.
During the 19th century the city became a major centre of economy, including motor car production, food processing, banking and the manufacture of medical equipment. The city's population quadrupled from 95,000 in 1849 to 396,000 in 1900 as a result of industrialization.
In the early 20th century Dresden was particularly well-known for its camera works and its cigarette factories. Between 1918 and 1934 Dresden was capital of the first Free State of Saxony. Dresden was a center of European modern art until 1933.
Being the capital of a state, it also had garrisons and military industry during the Second World War. None of all these garrisons military sites had ever been targeted on 13th February 1945 by the Allies.
Therefore, the bombing of Dresden by the Royal Air Force and by the United States Air Force between February 13 and February 15, 1945, remains one of the more controversial Allied actions of the Western European theater of war. The inner city of Dresden was completely destroyed during what later proved to be the final weeks of war in Europe. While the inhabited city center was literally wiped out, larger outlying villa and industrial areas outside the city center suffered little, relatively speaking. Some of the Allies described the operation as the justified bombing of a military and industrial target whilst others say it was "Terror", like British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (in his famous memorandum in which he tried to distance himself from the attack he had ordered himself).
Several researchers have argued that the February attacks were disproportional. Dresden was attacked seven times between 1944 and 1945. It was completely captured by the Red Army after German capitulation.

Post-war period

After the Second World War, Dresden became a major industrial center in the German Democratic Republic with a great deal of research infrastructure. Many important historic buildings were rebuilt including the Semper Opera House, the Zwinger Palace and a great many other historic buildings, although the city leaders chose to reconstruct large areas of the city in a "socialist modern" style, partly for economic reasons but also in order to break away from the city's past as the royal capital of Saxony and a stronghold of the German bourgeoisie. However, some of the bombed-out ruins of churches, royal buildings and palaces, such as the Gothic Sophienkirche, the Alberttheater and the Wackerbarth-Palais were razed by the Soviet and East German authorities in the 1950s and 1960s instead of being repaired. Compared to West Germany, the majority of historic buildings were saved.
From 1985 to 1990 the KGB stationed Vladimir Putin, the future present President of Russia, in Dresden. On 3 October 1989 (the so-called "battle of Dresden"), a convoy of trains carrying East German refugees from Prague passed through Dresden on its way to the Federal Republic of Germany. Local activists and residents joined in the growing civil disobedience movement spreading across the German Democratic Republic by staging demonstrations and demanding the removal of the non-democratic government.


Dresden has experienced dramatic changes since the reunification of Germany in the early 1990s. The city still bears many wounds from the bombing raids of 1945, but it has undergone significant reconstruction in recent decades. Restoration of the Dresden Frauenkirche was completed in 2005, a year before Dresden's 800th anniversary. The urban renewal process, which includes the reconstruction of the area around the Neumarkt square on which the Frauenkirche is situated, will continue for many decades, but public and government interest remains high, and there are numerous large projects underway — both historic reconstructions and modern plans — that will continue the city's recent architectural renaissance.
Dresden remains a major cultural center of historical memory, owing to the city's destruction in World War II. Each year on 13 February, the anniversary of the British and American fire-bombing raid that destroyed most of the city, tens of thousands of demonstrators gather to commemorate the event. Since reunification, the ceremony has taken on a more neutral and pacifist tone (after being used more politically in Cold War times). In recent years, however, white power skinheads have tried to use the event for their own political ends. In 2005, Dresden was host to the largest Neo-Nazi demonstration in the post-war history of Germany. Between five and eight thousand Neo-Nazis took part, mourning what they call the "Allied bomb-holocaust".
In 2002 torrential rains caused the Elbe to flood 9 m above its normal height, i.e. even higher than the old record height from 1845, damaging many landmarks (See 2002 European flood). The destruction from this "millennium flood" is no longer visible, due to the speed of reconstruction.
The United Nations cultural organization UNESCO declared the Dresden Elbe Valley to be a World Heritage Site in 2004. After being placed on the list of endangered World Heritage Sites in 2006, the city is most likely going to lose the title in July 2007 due to the construction of the Waldschlößchenbrücke. UNESCO stated in 2006 that the bridge will destroy the cultural landscape. The city council's legal moves to prevent the bridge being built failed.

Military history

As the capital of a German principality and kingdom, Dresden has been a military center for centuries. In connection with the foundation of the German Empire in 1871, a large military facility called Albertstadt was built. It had a capacity of up to 20,000 military personnel at the beginning of the First World War. The garrison saw only limited use between 1918 and 1934 but was then reactivated in preparation for the Second World War. It was never attacked in the bombings of Dresden.
Its usefulness was limited by attacks at 17th April 1945 on the railway network (especially towards Bohemia). Soldiers had been deployed as late as March 1945 in the Albertstadt garrison.
The Albertstadt garrison became the headquarters of the Soviet 1st Guards Tank Army in the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany after the war. Apart from the German army officers' school (Offizierschule des Heeres) there have been no more military units in Dresden since the army merger during German reunification and the withdrawal of Soviet forces in 1992.
The Bundeswehr operates the Military History Museum of the Federal Republic of Germany in the former Albertstadt garrison.

Government and politics

Dresden is one of Germany's 16 political centers and the capital of Saxony. It has institutions of democratic local self-administration that are independent from the capital functions. Some local affairs of Dresden are observed nationwide.
Dresden hosted some international summits such as the Petersburg Dialogue between Russia and Germany, the European Union's Minister of the Interior conference and the G8 labor ministers conference in recent years.

Municipality and city council

City council

The city council defines the basic principles of the municipality by decrees and statutes. The council gives orders to the "Bürgermeister" (burgomaster) by voting for resolutions and thus has some executive power.
Currently there is no stable governing majority on Dresden city council.

Burgomasters and municipality

The Supreme Burgomaster is directly elected by the citizens for a term of seven years. Executive functions are normally elected indirectly in Germany. However, the Supreme Burgomaster shares numerous executive rights with the city council. He/She is the executive head of the municipality, and also the ceremonial representative of the city. The main departments of the municipality are managed by seven burgomasters.

Local affairs

Local affairs in Dresden often center around the urban development of the city and its spaces. Architecture and the design of public places is a controversial subject. Discussions about the Waldschlößchenbrücke, a planned bridge across Elbe, received international attention because of its position across the Dresden Elbe Valley World Heritage Site. Opponents of the bridge are concerned that its construction would cause the loss of World Heritage site status. The city held a public referendum in 2005 on whether to build the bridge, prior to UNESCO expressing doubts about the compatibility between bridge and heritage.
In 2006 Dresden sold its publicly subsidized housing organization, WOBA Dresden GmbH, to the US-based private investment company Fortress Investment Group. The city received 987.1 million euros and paid off its remaining loans, making it the first large city in Germany to become debt-free. Opponents of the sale were concerned about Dresden's loss of control over the subsidized housing market.
The construction of a new football (soccer) stadium has been in planning for several years. The start date for upgrading the Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion into a single use football (soccer) stadium with a capacity of 32,770 was November 2007.

Sister cities

Along with its twin city Coventry, Dresden was one of the first cities to twin with a foreign city. The two cities became twins after World War II in an act of reconciliation, as both had been nearly destroyed by bombing. Dresden has twelve twin cities.

Coat of arms

Blazon: Party per pale on a golden shield showing a black lion to dexter and two black pales to sinister. The lion is looking to dexter and has a red tongue. The city's colours are derivatively black and yellow (Or).
Meaning: The lion represents the Margraviate of Meissen and the pales called the Landsberger Pfähle represent the March of Landsberg, both ruling the city of Dresden. Since 1309 both coats of arms in combination have been used. The pales were originally blue but converted to black to differentiate from the two other important Saxon cities of Leipzig and Chemnitz, which have very similar coats of arms.

Culture and architecture

Dresden is seeking to regain the kind of cultural importance it held from the 19th century up until the 1920s when it was a centre of art, architecture and music. Richard Wagner had a number of his works performed for the first time in Dresden. During that period, other famous artists such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Otto Dix, Oskar Kokoschka, Richard Strauss, Gottfried Semper and Gret Palucca were active in the city. Dresden is also home to several important art collections, world-famous musical ensembles, and significant buildings from various architectural periods, many of which were rebuilt after the destruction of the Second World War. A great many visitors from around the world come to Dresden purely to visit its opera house, galleries, cultural landscape and museums.


The Saxon State Opera descends from the opera company of the former electors and Kings of Saxony in the Semperoper. After being completely destroyed during the bombing of Dresden during the second world war, it was rebuilt by the German Democratic Republic. Its musical ensemble is the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, founded in 1548. The Dresden State Theatre runs a number of smaller theaters. The Dresden State Operetta is the only independent operetta in Germany. The Herkuleskeule (Hercules club) is an important site in German-speaking political cabaret.
There are several choirs in Dresden, the best-known of which is the Kreuzchor (Choir of The Cross). It is a boy's choir drawn from pupils of the Kreuzschule and was founded in the 13th century. The Dresdner Kapellknaben are not related to the Staatskapelle but to the former Hofkapelle, the Catholic cathedral, since 1980. The Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra is the orchestra of the city of Dresden.
In summer 2006, as part of Dresden's 800th anniversary celebrations, the Pet Shop Boys performed together with the Dresdner Sinfoniker (symphony orchestra) on the pedestrian mall at Prager Straße. The backdrop for the performance was a GDR-era concrete apartment block upon which a light show was displayed.
A big event each year in June is the Bunte Republik Neustadt.

Museums, presentations and collections

Dresden hosts the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections) which are, according to own statements, among the most important museums presently in existence. The art collections consist of eleven museums, of which the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister and the Grünes Gewölbe are the best known.
Other museums and collections owned by the Free State of Saxony in Dresden are:
  • The Deutsche Hygiene-Museum, founded for mass education in hygiene, health, human biology and medicine
  • The Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte (State Museum of Prehistory)
  • The Staatliche Naturhistorische Sammlungen Dresden (State Collection of Natural History)
  • The Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden (Museum of Ethnology)
  • The "Universitätssammlung Kunst + Technik" (Collection of Art and Technology of the Dresden University of Technology)
  • Verkehrsmuseum Dresden (Transport Museum)
The Dresden City Museum is run by the city of Dresden and focused on the city's history. The Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr is in the former garrison in the Albertstadt.


Although Dresden is often said to be a Baroque city, its architecture is influenced by more than one style. Other eras of importance are the Renaissance and Historism as well as the contemporary styles of Modernism and Postmodernism.
Dresden has some 13 000 cultural monuments enlisted and eight districts under general preservation orders defined.

Royal household

The royal buildings are among the most impressive buildings in Dresden. The Dresden Castle was once the home of the princely and royal household since 1485. The wings of the building have been renewed, built upon and restored many times. Due to this integration of styles, the castle is made up of elements of the Renaissance, Baroque and Classicist styles.
The Zwinger Palace is across the road from the castle. It was built on the old stronghold of the city and was converted to a center for the royal art collections and a place to hold festivals. Its gate (surmounted by a golden crown) by the moat is famous.
Other royal buildings and ensembles:

Sacred buildings

The Hofkirche was the church of the royal household. Augustus the Strong, who desired to be King of Poland, converted to Catholicism, as the Polish kings had to be Catholic. At that time Dresden was strictly Protestant. Augustus the Strong ordered the building of the Hofkirche, the Roman Catholic Cathedral, to establish a sign of Roman Catholic religious importance in Dresden. The church is the cathedral "Sanctissimae Trinitatis" since 1980. The crypt of the Wettin Dynasty is located within the church.
In contrast to the Hofkirche, the Lutheran Frauenkirche was built almost contemporaneously by the citizens of Dresden. It is said to be the greatest cupola building in Central and Northern Europe. The city's historic Kreuzkirche was reconsecrated in 1388.
There are also other churches in Dresden, for example a Russian Orthodox Church in the Südvorstadt district.

Contemporary architecture

Dresden has been an important site for the development of contemporary architecture for centuries, and this trend has continued into the 20th and 21st centuries.
Historicist buildings made their presence felt on the cityscape until the 1920s sampled by public buildings such as the Staatskanzlei or the City Hall. One of the youngest buildings of that era is the Hygiene Museum, which is designed in an impressively monumental style but employs plain facades and simple structures. It is often attributed, wrongly, to the Bauhaus school.
Most of the present cityscape of Dresden was built up after 1945, a mix of reconstructed or repaired old buildings and new buildings in the modern and postmodern styles. Important buildings erected between 1945 and 1990 are the Centrum-Warenhaus (a large department store) representing the international style, the Kulturpalast, and a lot of smaller and two bigger complexes of Plattenbau housing, while there is also housing dating from the era of Stalinist architecture.
After 1990 and German reunification, new styles emerged. Important contemporary buildings include the New Synagogue, a postmodern building with few windows, the Transparent Factory, the Saxon State Parliament and the New Terrace, the UFA-Kristallpalast cinema by Coop Himmelb(l)au (one of the biggest buildings of Deconstructivism in Germany), and the Saxon State Library. Daniel Libeskind and Norman Foster both modified existing buildings. Foster roofed the main railway station with translucent Teflon-coated synthetics. Libeskind changed the whole structure of the Military History Museum by placing a wedge through the historicist arsenal building.

Other buildings

Other buildings include important bridges crossing the Elbe river, the Blaues Wunder bridge and the Augustusbrücke, which is on the site of the oldest bridge in Dresden.
There are about 300 fountains and springs, many of them in parks or squares. The wells serve only a decorative function, since there is a fresh water system in Dresden. Springs and fountains are also elements in contemporary cityspaces.
The most famous sculpture in Dresden is the golden equestrian sculpture of August the Strong called the "Goldener Reiter" (Golden Cavalier) on the Neustädter Markt square. It shows August at the beginning of the Hauptstraße (Main street) on his way to Warsaw, where he was King of Poland in personal union. Another sculpture is the memorial of Martin Luther in front of the Frauenkirche.

Dresden-Hellerau - Germany's first garden city

The Garden City of Hellerau, at that time a suburb of Dresden, was founded in 1909. In 1911 Heinrich Tessenow built the Hellerau Festspielhaus (festival theatre) and Hellerau became a centre of modernism with international standing until the outbreak of World War I.
In 1950 Hellerau was incorporated into the city of Dresden. Today the Hellerau reform architecture is recognised as exemplary. In the 1990s the garden city of Hellerau became a conservation area.

Cinemas and cinematics

There are several small cinemas presenting cult films and low-budget or low-profile films chosen for their cultural worth. Dresden also has a couple of multiplex cinemas, of which the Rundkino is the oldest.
Dresden has been a centre for the production of animated films and optical cinematic techniques. The Dresden Filmfest hosts a competition for short films which is among the best-endowed competitions in Europe.


Dresden is home to Dynamo Dresden which has a tradition in UEFA club competitions up to the early 1990s. Dynamo Dresden won eight titles in the DDR-Oberliga. Currently the club is playing in the 3rd Liga after some seasons in the Fußball-Bundesliga and 2. Fußball-Bundesliga.
In the early 20th century, the city was represented by Dresdner SC, who were one of Germany's most successful clubs in football. Their best days coming during World War II, when they were twice German Champions, and twice Cup winners. Dresdner SC is a multisport club. While its football club is classified in the Landesliga Sachsen (fifth class), it's volleyball club has a team in the women's Bundesliga.
ESC Dresdner Eislöwen is a Ice hockey club which is playing in the 2nd Bundesliga again. Dresden Monarchs are an American football team in the German Football League.
Major sport facilities in Dresden are the Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion, the Heinz-Steyer-Stadion and the Freiberger Arena (Ice hockey).



The Bundesautobahn 4 (European route E40) crosses Dresden in the northwest from west to east. The Bundesautobahn 17 leaves the A4 in a south-eastern direction. In Dresden it begins to cross the Ore Mountains towards Prague. The Bundesautobahn 13 leaves from the three-point interchange "Dresden-Nord" and goes to Berlin. The A13 and the A17 are on the European route E55. Several Bundesstraße roads crossing or running through Dresden.
There are two main inter-city transit hubs in the railway network in Dresden: Dresden Hauptbahnhof and Dresden-Neustadt railway station. The most important railway lines run to Berlin, Prague, Leipzig and Chemnitz. A commuter train system (Dresden S-Bahn) operates on three lines alongside the long-distance routes.
Dresden Airport is the international airport of Dresden, located at the north-western outskirts of the town. Its infrastructure has been improved with new terminals and a motorway access route.
Dresden has a large tramway network operated by the Dresden Transport Authority. Because the geological bedrock does not allow the building of underground railways, the tramway is an important form of public transport. The Transport Authority operates twelve lines on a 200 km network. Many of the new low-floor vehicles are up to 45 metres long and produced by Bombardier Transportation in Bautzen. While many of the system's lines are on reserved track (often sown with grass to avoid noise), many tracks still run on the streets, especially in the inner city.
The CarGoTram is a tram that supplies Volkswagen's Transparent Factory, crossing the city. The transparent factory is located not far from the city centre next to the city's largest park.

Public utilities

Dresden is the capital of a German Land (federal state). It is home to the Landtag of Saxony and the ministries of the Saxon Government. The controlling Constitutional Court of Saxony is in Leipzig. The highest Saxon court in civil and criminal law, the Higher Regional Court of Saxony, has its home in Dresden.
Most of the Saxon state authorities are located in Dresden. Dresden is home to the Regional Commission of the Dresden Regierungsbezirk, which is a controlling authority for the Saxon Government. It has jurisdiction over eight rural districts, two urban districts and the city of Dresden.
Like many cities in Germany, Dresden is also home to a local court, has a trade corporation and a Chamber of Industry and Trade and many subsidiaries of federal agencies (such as the Federal Labour Office or the Federal Agency for Technical Relief). It also hosts some subdepartments of the German Customs and the eastern Federal Waterways Directorate.
Dresden is also home to a military subdistrict command but no longer has large military units as it did in the past. Dresden is the traditional location for army officer schooling in Germany, today carried out in the Offizierschule des Heeres.


In 1990 Dresden — an important industrial centre of the German Democratic Republic — had to struggle with the economic collapse of the Soviet Union and the other export markets in Eastern Europe. The German Democratic Republic had been the richest eastern bloc country but was faced with competition from the Federal Republic of Germany after reunification. After 1990 a completely new law and currency system was introduced in the wake of the collapse of the German Democratic Republic and eastern Germany's infrastructure was largely rebuilt with funds from the Federal Republic of Germany. Dresden as a major urban centre has developed much faster and more consistently than most other regions in the former German Democratic Republic, but the city still faces many social and economic problems stemming from the collapse of the former system, including high unemployment levels.
Until famous enterprises like Dresdner Bank left Dresden in the communist era to avoid nationalisation, Dresden was one of the most important German cities. The period of the GDR until 1990 was characterised by low economic growth in comparison to western German cities. The enterprises and production sites broke down almost completely as they entered the social market economy. Since then the economy of Dresden has been recovering.

Facts and figures

The unemployment rate fluctuates between 13% and 15% and is still relatively high. Nevertheless, Dresden has developed faster than the average for Eastern Germany and has raised its GDP per capita to 31,100 euros, equal to the GDP per capita of some poor West German communities (the average of the 50 biggest cities is around 35,000 euros).
The economy of Dresden involves extensive public funding. Thanks to extensive public funding of technology, the proportion of highly-qualified workers is around 20%. Dresden is ranked among the best ten cities in Germany to live in.


Three major sectors can be seen as dominating the Dresden economy:
The semiconductor industry was built up in 1969. Major enterprises today are AMD, Infineon Technologies (now partly owned by Qimonda), ZMD and Toppan Photomasks. Their factories attract many suppliers of material and cleanroom technology enterprises to Dresden.
The pharmaceutical sector came up at the end of the 19th century. The Sächsisches Serumwerk Dresden (Saxon Serum Plant, Dresden), owned by GlaxoSmithKline, is a world leader in vaccine production. Another traditional pharmaceuticals producer is Arzneimittelwerke Dresden (Pharmaceutical Works, Dresden).
A third (traditional) branch is that of mechanical and electrical engineering. Major employers are the Volkswagen Transparent Factory, EADS Elbe Flugzeugwerke (Elbe Aircraft Works), Siemens and Linde-KCA-Dresden.
Tourism is another sector of the economy enjoying high revenue and many employees. There are 87 hotels in Dresden, a noted site for heritage tourism.


The media in Dresden include two major newspaper: the Sächsische Zeitung (Saxonian Newspaper, circulation around 300,000) and the Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten (Dresden's Latest News, circulation around 50,000). Dresden has a broadcasting centre belonging to the Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk. The Dresdner Druck- und Verlagshaus (Dresden printing plant and publishing house) produces part of Spiegel's print run, among other newspapers and magazines.

Education and science


Dresden is home to a number of renowned universities, but among German cities it is a more recent location for academic education.
  • The Technische Universität Dresden with almost 35,000 students (2004) was founded in 1828 and is among the oldest and largest Universities of Technology in Germany. It is currently the university of technology in Germany with the largest number of students but also has many courses in social studies, economics and other non-technical sciences. It offers 126 courses.
Other universities include the "Hochschule für Kirchenmusik", a school specialising in church music, the "Evangelische Hochschule für Sozialarbeit", an education institution for social work. The "Dresden International University" is a private postgraduate university, founded a few years ago in cooperation with the Dresden University of Technology.

Research institutes

Dresden also hosts many research institutes, some of which have gained an international standing. The domains of most importance are micro- and nanoelectronics, transport and infrastructure systems, material and photonic technology, and bio-engineering. The institutes are well connected among one other as well as with the academic education institutions.
The Max Planck Society focuses on fundamental research. In Dresden there are three Max Planck Institutes (MPI); the "MPI of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics", the "MPI for Chemical Physics of Solids" and the "MPI for the Physics of Complex Systems"
The Fraunhofer Society hosts institutes of applied research that also offer mission-oriented research to enterprises. With eleven institutions or parts of institutes, Dresden is the largest location of the Fraunhofer Society worldwide. The Fraunhofer Society has become an important factor in locatino decisions and is seen as a useful part of the "knowledge infrastructure". The Leibniz-Gemeinschaft operates a research centre in Rossendorf, which is the largest complex of research facilities in Dresden, a short distance outside the urban areas. It still focuses on nuclear medicine. The "Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research" and the "Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research" are in the material and high-technology domain, while the "Leibniz Institute for Ecological and Regional Development" is focused on more fundamental research into urban planning.

Famous residents


External links

commons Dresden
Tourism and business

Further reading

  • Dresden: Tuesday, 13 February 1945 by Frederick Taylor, 2005; ISBN 0-7475-7084-1
  • Dresden and the Heavy Bombers: An RAF Navigator's Perspective by Frank Musgrove, 2005; ISBN 1-84415-194-8
  • Return to Dresden by Maria Ritter, 2004; ISBN 1-57806-596-8
  • Dresden: Heute/Today by Dieter Zumpe, 2003; ISBN 3-7913-2860-3
  • Destruction of Dresden by David Irving, 1972; ISBN 0-345-23032-9
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, 1970; ISBN 0-586-03328-9
  • "Disguised Visibilities: Dresden/"Dresden" by Mark Jarzombek in Memory and Architecture, Ed. By Eleni Bastea, (University of Mexico Press, 2004).
  • Preserve and Rebuild: Dresden during the Transformations of 1989-1990. Architecture, Citizens Initiatives and Local Identities by Victoria Knebel, 2007; ISBN 978-3-631-55954-3
  • La tutela del patrimonio culturale in caso di conflitto Fabio Maniscalco (editor), 2002; ISBN 88-87835-18-7
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