The signature landmark of Dresden is the Dresdner Frauenkirche, the Church of Our Lady. It is one of the most talked-about German buildings in the recent past and a must-see site in Dresden.
Let's take a look at the history of this beloved church and find out how to visit Dresden's Frauenkirche.
History of the Frauenkirche
The first Catholic church on this site was built in the 11th century in Romanesque style, but it became Protestant during the Reformation. In the 18th century, the entire building was replaced with a much larger, Baroque structure. This design features one of the largest domes in Europe at 315 feet (96 meters) high called die Steinerne Glocke or "Stone Bell."
In 1849, the church was at the center of May Day (Labor Day) protests. The fighting lasted for days around the church before the rebels were forcibly put down and arrested.
In World War II, air-raids wiped out most of Dresden, destroying many historic buildings and churches. Among them was the Frauenkirche, which collapsed into a 42 feet (13 meters) high pile of rubble amid 650,000 incendiary bombs that rose temperature around the church to 1,830 degrees F (1,000 degrees C). The ruins were left untouched for 40 years as a reminder of the destructive powers of war.
In the 1980s, the ruins became a site of the East German peace movement. Thousands gathered here to protest the regime of the East German Government on the anniversary of the bombing. By 1989, tens of thousands or protesters had gathered here, and the wall between East and West Germany finally fell.
Due to the increasing decay of the ruins and those who thought it an eyesore, the painstaking reconstruction of the Frauenkirche began in 1994 after reunification. The rebuilding of the Frauenkirche was financed almost entirely by private donations from all around the world. It took 11 years and over 180 million euros to finish the reconstruction in 2005, just in time for the 800th anniversary of Dresden.
Critics of the project felt that this money could have been better spent on social programs like new housing, but the Frauenkirche has become a symbol of hope and reconciliation and is now one of the top attractions in Dresden drawing millions of visitors every year. The church still places a high value on its peace work, and there are a variety of tributes and active peace work there today.
Original stones charred from the fire were salvaged from the ruins and combined with new, lighter colored stones—an architectural mosaic of past and present. The Frauenkirche was reconstructed using original plans from 1726. The architects determined the position of each stone from its spot in the rubble.
The colorful murals inside the church and the artistically carved oak doors were recreated with the help of old wedding photographs. The golden cross on top of the church was crafted by a British goldsmith, whose father was an Allied pilot in the air-raids over Dresden.
For those up for a hike, pay admission to ascend to the dome. This steep climb to the top offers unparalleled views of the reconstructed city center and riverfront.
For even more information on the church, join a guided tour. They are available for free every day, but most of the tours are in German. For a different language, inquire at their ticket office. If you miss the tour time or need a different language, audio guides are available for two and a half euros in several languages.
Address: Frauenkirche, Neumarkt, 01067 Dresden
Getting there by tram or bus:
- Altmarkt tram lines 1, 2, 4, 12
- Pirnaischer Platz tram lines 3, 6, 7 and bus line 75
Entrance: Free (To climb up to the dome costs eight euros)
Hours: Weekdays between 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Weekend hours depend on scheduled events.
Organ Recitals and Services:
- Organ recitals: Monday to Friday at noon, evening devotion at 6 p.m., Sunday service, or one of the roughly 40 scheduled concerts a year
- Service in German: Daily, 6 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. and 6 p.m
- Service in English: Every third Sunday in a month, 6 p.m.
Viewing Platform: Note that the platform is only accessible weather permitting.
- November to February: Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- March to October: Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Photos: Taking photos/ filming is not allowed inside the church.