Dresden’s Frauenkirche

Dresden’s Frauenkirche is a Lutheran cathedral. It has become a landmark of the old German city not far from the Czech border. The classic baroque church is an absolute must-see on anyone’s German travel list.

The Name

The name Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady) refers to a church that has been consecrated in honor of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. You will find many churches by that name throughout Germany and Europe. In France and Belgium they would be called Notre Dame.

Previous churches on this spot

The first Frauenkirche on this very spot was built in the 11th century as a village missionary church. With the emergence of the City of Dresden in the 12th century the missionary church turned into a parish church. Of Gothic design, the original Frauenkirche was modified and rebuilt many times over the centuries.

Today’s Frauenkirche

In 1726, the Council of the City of Dresden commissioned the architect, Georg Baehr, to begin construction of a new church with a central dome on a square base. Construction was completed in 1743. The design became a landmark. There are no internal supports. The form of the cathedral’s bell-shaped dome is unique. Made of sandstone, it weighs upward of 12,000 tons and is referred to as the Steinerne Glocke (Stone Bell).

Dresden's Frauenkirche, Photo © J. Elke Ertle 2013

Dresden’s Frauenkirche, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2013

Destruction

Dresden’s Frauenkirche fell into ruins on 15 February 1945. Two days after the Allies had dropped 650,000 incendiary bombs on the city of Dresden, the baroque beauty collapsed. It had survived the direct attack, but the extreme heat had caused more and more of the sandstone to explode, and the piers could no longer bear the immense weight of the dome.

Reconstruction of Dresden’s Frauenkirche

The scorched stones lay in a heap for the next 45 years. But after German reunification in 1989, reconstruction began with the help from many groups, including American and British organizations. The foundation was laid in 1994, using Baehr’s original blueprints. About 3,800 original stones were reused. The reconstruction was finished in 2005 at a cost of an estimated $217 million.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

 

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