A heartland of industrial Germany, Dresden recently celebrated its 800th birthday, and is full of suitably ancient, crumbling buildings that make for an impressively ornate city centre setting. Having once been the heart of a large empire, Dresden could claim to be one of the richest cities in Germany until it was all but flattened by Second World War bombing, though most of the stunning historical heart of the city has now been rebuilt to its original condition. Despite the rebuilding, though, you’ll find few cities in Europe that still show the markings of World War II quite so clearly. With many buildings scorched black and pock marked, some areas of the city can make for gloomy and depressing experiences, though most appreciate the chance to get sol close to history. If it’s the beautiful architecture you’re here for, though, check out the Zwinger Palace (home to Rafael’s Madonna Sistina, but amply beautiful in its own right), the dome Fraunkirche church and the wonderful opera hall, Semperoper.