It was in the mid 1990s when I first heard about the Frauenkirche in Dresden. There was an ad on TV, about one minute long, interrupting the MacGyver series I was watching. It showed a ruin, not much more than two tall walls of a former church with lots of rubble around them. Not a pleasant sight, but still fascinating. I was amazed that there was an association that wanted to rebuild the church using a lot of the original stone and debris that was scattered around the two walls.
To achieve that goal and raise the funds needed, they were advertising a special edition silver coin showing the Frauenkirche in its original glory. And while I did not spend my allowance on one of those coins, the ad and the images stuck with me, even more than 15 years later when I visited Dresden for the first time. The Society to Promote the Reconstruction of the Church of Our Lady (Gesellschaft zur Förderung des Wiederaufbaus der Frauenkirche Dresden e.V.) had raised an impressive 22.5 Million Euros from selling these silver coins:
The name Frauenkirche literally translates to Church of Our Lady, describing a church that has been sanctified in honor of the Virgin Mary. It was built between 1726 and 1743 as a Lutheran church and designed by architect George Bähr. Its most unique feature, the high dome, called the Steinerne Glocke (stone bell) was a major undertaking in the 18th century. Twelve thousand tons of stone in were placed in a dome pattern onto eight support pillars. This construction held up for over two hundred years until February of 1945 when Dresden was bombed by the allied forces during WWII.
The ruins of the church would remain in the city center until 1985, which was when the city decided to rebuild the Frauenkirche and started a large fundraising campaign. From 1992 to 1994 the remaining stones were sorted and documented until the reconstruction officially began later in 1994. Most of the Frauenkirche, excluding the dome, was rebuilt using original materials with the support of modern computer technology. Missing pieces were replaced by new stone blocks. Looking at the stone blocks closely, I was able to see the original, fire-damaged stones with a darker hue compared to the bright beige, new stones. The reconstruction was finished in October 2005 and cost 180 Million Euros (almost 200 Million US Dollars).
Even if you do not usually look at churches or give them a wide berth, you should stop by the Frauenkirche when you are in Dresden. But be warned, that the Frauenkirche is one of the most popular tourist attractions and usually packed with people. When we entered the church it was hard to move around inside, you have to be patient. And even though you are meant to be quiet, it is still noisy inside due to the amount of people and the smaller footprint of the church itself. Once you see the magnificent circular nave with beautiful paintings and murals, you will forget the people around you for a while. I suggest you sit down for a moment and look up at the dome ceilings showing the four virtues and the four evangelists. And if you’re feeling up for it you can climb the ramp up to the dome for a birds eye view of Dresden.
The Frauenkirche can be visited from Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. - 12 noon and from 1 p.m. - 6 p.m.. Visiting is also possible at the weekends. Opening times may vary due to marriages, christenings, services and concerts taking place. Guided tours are offered and are mostly free, but donations are welcomed. We would love to show you our own pictures from inside, but photography is not allowed. Here's one interior shot from Alexander Fuhrmann, provided by the Frauenkirche. Or, if you click here, the official website of the Dresden Frauenkirche opens, simply scroll down and enjoy a panorama view from different perspectives inside the church.
• Title image and wide-angle of Frauenkirche shot by Tourist is a Dirty Word
• Ruine der Dresdner Frauenkirche on February 2, 1985 by Matthias Hiekel, under creative commons license 3.0.
•Interior Frauenkirche photo by Alexander Fuhrmann, for non-commercial use only