The present capital of the federal state of Saxony Dresden was mentioned on a document for the first time in 1206. But there is proof for a settlement in the area of Dresden as early as in the Stone Age. The name "Dresden" derives from the Old Sorbian word "Drež'dany" which means "swamp or alluvial forest dwellers".
Dresden was first mentionend on a court document of the year 1206 which deals with the slighting of the castle Thorun on the Burgwartsberg in the area of the city of Freital near Dresden. The regional cultural and political centre at this time however was the nearby Meißen. Although a document on granting the town privilege has not been found until the present day, Dresden was called a town as early as in 1216. At this time, the city east of the River Elbe and "Altendresden" west of the Elbe were settlements independently from each other which were united as late as in the 16th century.
With the division of the Wettin landholding in 1485, Dresden became the seat of the dukes of Saxony. As the Wettin property was made an electory and kingdom, the rise of Dresden to a cultural and political centre began. In the period following, the world-famous buildings of Baroque and Renaissance as well as important cultural institutions were erected. Under the regency of "Augustus the Strong" in the 17th and 18th century, Dresden gained its cultural importance which persists until today.