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From: Dresden, Germany

Frauenkirche on the Neumarkt

ABOVE: Dresden's reconstructed Frauenkirche is on the Neumarkt, a large cobblestoned square in the Altstadt. INSET BELOW: The old Frauenkirche, the new dome's interior, the statue of Martin Luther in front of the church, and another view of the dome.

Frauenkirche circa 1920The Frauenkirche in Dresden is the Reformation's answer to St. Peter's Basilica: It was built in 1743 with the biggest dome north of the Alps, and it remains the largest Protestant church on the European continent.

Frauenkirche domeThe Frauenkirche that stands on the Neumarkt today is a reconstruction of the original, which was destroyed in the Allied fire bombing of Dresden in February, 1945. Wikipedia's illustrated article about the Frauenkirche describes what happened:

"The church withstood two days and nights of the attacks and the eight interior sandstone pillars supporting the large dome held up long enough for the evacuation of 300 people who had sought shelter in the church crypt, before succumbing to the heat generated by some 650,000 incendiary bombs that were dropped on the city. The temperature surrounding and inside the church eventually reached 1,000 degrees Celsius.

"The dome finally collapsed at 10 a.m. on 15 February. The pillars glowed bright red and exploded; the outer walls shattered and nearly 6,000 tons of stone plunged to earth, penetrating the massive floor as it fell."

Martin Luther statueThe ruins were a painful eyesore in the heart of Dresden's Altstadt until the early 1990s, when--following the reunification of Germany--an international fundraising and reconstruction effort began.

It took 11 years to rebuild the church, but work was completed in 1995, and the Frauenkirche was officially reconsecrated in October, 2005, six decades after its destruction by incendiary bombs.

Visiting the Frauenkirche

The nave and lower church are open for tourist visits from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Weekend hours vary. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged. See the Frauenkirche's Visitor Center, Open Church, and Guided Tours pages for details.

Frauenkirche domeIf you're physically fit and don't mind heights, you can visit the church dome and its outdoor viewing platform. Part of the ascent is by elevator, but you'll also need to climb steps and walk up a long, steep spiral "donkey ramp" to the top of the 67-meter or 220-foot dome. See the church Web site's Ascent to the Dome page for hours and ticket prices.

For more information about the church--including its history, reconstruction, religious services, organ recitals, and concerts--visit the Frauenkirche Dresden Web site.

Back to: Dresden index

Dresden travel guide:

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1st inset photo scan copyright © Grafissimo.
2nd and 4th inset photos copyright © Nikada.
3rd inset photo copyright © Exkalibur.

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