Dresden's fame and attractiveness refer back mostly to the glamourous period as the royal residence of the Saxonian kings. Before the Allied bombing in February 1945, Dresden was considered as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe with its unmatched collection of baroque architecture, and it had often been called the ›Florence of the Elbe‹.
The bombing left most of the baroque and other buildings in the Old Town in ruins which had been restored step by step in the following decades till now. Nowadays, Dresden is shaped by baroque architecture, tourism and culture, science and high-technology, many green and forested areas, and as the capital of the federal state of Saxony.
The political and cultural atmosphere and life in Dresden are quite conservative, though. Dresden's big rival in Saxony, Leipzig (100 km to the northwest), has less old glamour and pomp but is more lively and dynamic. That also applies to the gay life in both cities.
To see the creative and younger side of Dresden don't miss to stroll around in Dresden-Neustadt, especially in the ›Äußere Neustadt‹ (Outer New Town). Many houses there had been built in the so-called ›Gründerzeit‹ (Wilhelminian style) period at the end of the 19th century and show a mix of different neo-styles of that time. Due to its location on the other side of the Elbe river, the ›Äußere Neustadt‹ was less destroyed by the fire following the bombings and ironically became one of the oldest parts of Dresden. In the 1980s, Dresden-Neustadt had become the preferred residential area for the creative and alternative scene in Dresden. This continued after the reunification in 1990, and you will find a lot of galleries, cafes, pubs, bars and music clubs in Dresden-Neustadt, which is also home for most of the gay bars and clubs.