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2020-06-10 00:00:49

The Dresden Frauenkirche: magnificent Baroque and austerity of Lutheranism

The Dresden Frauenkirche: magnificent Baroque and austerity of Lutheranism

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Virgin (Frauenkirche) serves as a symbol of Dresden III century. At first it was a symbol of renewal: on the central square of the city stood the Church of the Virgin of the 11th century. By the 20s of the 18th century, the church began to collapse, presenting a danger to the inhabitants of Dresden, and it was dismantled, having built a new Lutheran church here with the consent and with the help of the Saxon Elector Augustus the Strong.

Augustus the Strong, ruler of Saxony and the Polish king, contributed to the heyday of the city, during which Dresden was built up with Baroque buildings. Frauenkirche, built in 1843, became the high-rise dominant of the city: the cross crowning the dome of the church at an altitude of 95 m was visible not only from anywhere in the city, but also from the surrounding area.

The large-scale light-cream building of the church was designed by architect George Ber, who erected a central city temple in which 3,500 worshipers can pray at the same time. Two opposing vectors harmoniously connected in the appearance of the church and the interior: the Baroque style's desire for luxurious numerous details and the balanced severity of the Protestant branch of Christianity.

The death and rebirth of the Frauenkirche: war and the unification of Germany

The death of Dresden at the end of World War II is one of the most dramatic moments in world history. On the night of February 14, 1945, during a joint raid by American and British aircraft, the city was completely destroyed, and after an bombing an uncontrolled fire started. Frauenkirche survived under the bombs, but the fire destroyed it: there was only a pile of stones and 2 small sections of the outer wall.

After the partition of Germany, Dresden became part of the German Democratic Republic. The GDR authorities believed that after the war it was necessary to solve pressing problems, to restore housing and factories, but let the ruins of famous buildings remind of the horrors of the war. Funds for the restoration of the city center were not allocated enough, until the 80s of the XX century, only the monument to Martin Luther of the mid-19th century was restored.

The restoration of Dresden received a new impetus in 1989, after the unification of Germany. Residents of the city got the opportunity to turn to the international community for help in restoring Neumarkt Square and Frauenkirche on it. By 1994, the necessary amount was collected (100 million $), and the restoration of the church began. To restore the church, original drawings, materials, similar to those from which the Church of the Virgin was built, were used. Even the paint for interior work was made according to old recipes! The ruins were carefully dismantled, each stone was photographed and described, all were taken out to clear the site.

The building was built, as for the first time, from local sandstone. The sandstone has a delicate, light shade, it looks very elegant, but over time it darkens especially if it is exposed to fire. The stones of the Frauenkirche ruins were almost black. Each stone of the former church has found its place in the new building - they look dark interspersed in the walls. By the number of these inclusions, it becomes clear that 10 percent of the old temple has been preserved, the rest had to be replaced using the most modern technologies.

The restoration was completed in 2005, and the interior was restored:

  • gold painted altar
  • circular interior gallery
  • organ
  • murals in the central part of the dome.

The cross on the dome of the church is cast by the Englishman, the son of a pilot who participated in the bombing of Dresden - it is called the "cross of reconciliation."

Frauenkirche today: weddings, tourists, volunteer guides

In 2005, the Frauenkirche did not just open, but was re-consecrated. The ceremony was attended by top officials of the state, conducted the consecration ceremony of the Bishop of the Lutheran Church of Saxony. Since this is a functioning temple, Christian rites are held here, believers come to pray - during these hours (mainly on Sundays), tourists are asked to refrain from visiting Frauenkirche.

The rest of the time from 10 to 18 hours the revived temple is available for inspection. German guides tell everyone about the history of the church, its architecture, and the features of decoration. Free tours are conducted in German: those who wish to listen to information in other languages can take an audio guide for a small fee.

A small museum has been opened in the church - an exposition dedicated to the restoration and revival of the Frauenkirche.

* The church of the XVIII century, restored in the XXI century.

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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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