Frauenkirche (Dresden)

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The Frauenkirche (2010)
Frauenkirche with Neumarkt (around 1898)
Frauenkirche, rebuilt Neumarkt and Brühl's Terrace from the air (2014)

The Frauenkirche in Dresden (originally the Church of Our Lady  - the name refers to the Holy Mary ) is an Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Baroque and the formative monumental structure of Dresdner Neumarkt . It is considered a splendid testimony to the Protestant religious building , has one of the largest stone church domes north of the Alps and is one of the largest sandstone buildings in the world.

The Dresden Frauenkirche was built from 1726 to 1743 according to a design by George Bähr and has become an emblem of both the Dresden Baroque and the famous city skyline. At the end of the Second World War it was badly damaged by the firestorm raging in Dresden during the air raids on Dresden in the night of February 13-14, 1945 , and burned down on the morning of February 15. The ruins were preserved in the GDR and were left as a memorial against war and destruction.

After the fall of the Wall , the clearing of rubble began in 1993 and the reconstruction of the church began in 1994 . The work, which was completed in 2005, was mainly financed by associations and donors from all over the world, including the US “ Friends of Dresden ”. On October 30, 2005, a consecration service and ceremony took place in the Frauenkirche . The ruin has now become a symbol of reconciliation .

In the area around the Frauenkirche, the Neumarkt has been re- emerging since then on the initiative of the Society Historischer Neumarkt Dresden (GHND) , with several reconstructions of town houses.


Previous buildings

Predecessor building of the Frauenkirche 1714 based on the copper engraving by Moritz Bodenehr

It is believed that the earliest Frauenkirche building was a wooden mission church and was built shortly after the year 1000. Chroniclers of the 17th and 18th centuries stated that it was founded around the year 1020. According to Slavic tradition, the Church of Our Lady was consecrated by Přibislav (probably the court chaplain of the Bohemian Duke Oldřich ) on September 8th, the feast day of the birth of the Virgin Mary . However, there is no archaeological evidence of this building. In the 12th century, a small Romanesque stone church was built on the site of today's Frauenkirche , which was also consecrated to the Mother of God and was therefore called Church to our liuben Vrouwen in Middle High German . Wall remains of this church were found during excavations.

In the 14th century, the Romanesque church was rebuilt with a new sacred building in the Gothic style . In 1477 it received a choir in the late Gothic style and in 1497 its last roof turret until it was demolished in 1727 .

During the Reformation , the church building from the Middle Ages fell to the now Lutheran congregation of the city. Until then, it was the only city church with the seat of the archpriest of the archdeaconate of the Meissen diocese . Among other things, Heinrich Schütz was buried in their vestibule . At the beginning of the 18th century, the building became dilapidated and was no longer sufficient for the growing number of people attending church services. Since the construction of the Bährschen Frauenkirche began next to the Gothic Frauenkirche, the service could be continued during the construction work on the new building. It was only dismantled in 1727 when the old Frauenkirche prevented further construction of the Bährschen building. The Frauenkirchhof surrounding the church was also secularized by 1727 .

Baroque domed structure by George Bährs

Medal for the laying of the foundation stone of the Frauenkirche in 1726. The Dresden medalist JW Höckner used Bähr's second design. (Replica)

In 1722 the Dresden City Council decided to build a new church. He commissioned the architect and councilor carpenter George Bähr with the planning. This, from which several drafts emerged, lasted four years until the city approved his draft on June 26, 1726. Due to the narrowness of Neumarkt, a high central building was considered the most suitable solution. The pilgrimage church Maria Hilf by Giovanni Antonio Viscardi near Neumarkt in the Upper Palatinate served as a model for the plans of the church. The foundation stone was laid on August 26, 1726 , with Superintendent Valentin Ernst Löscher preaching, and a new baroque building was built by 1743. It cost 288,570 thalers, 13 groschen and 64.4 pfennigs, most of which came from donations from the citizens of Dresden. These were actually intended for the settlement of Salzburg Protestants in Saxony who had been expelled because of their beliefs. In the meantime they had accepted the invitation of the King of Prussia and were traveling through Saxony. The donations were not given to them, but used for the construction of the Frauenkirche. On Sunday Sexagesimae , February 28, 1734, the interior of the still unfinished church was ceremoniously used with a sermon by Superintendent Löscher and music by Theodor Christlieb Reinhold .

According to Bähr's original plans, the outer dome was to be made of wood and clad with copper . Bähr later proposed a stone dome as opposed to this expensive variant, which he hoped would have a greater effect, and implemented this with the support of Augustus the Strong . August raved about Venice's domed church Santa Maria della Salute , which stands at the confluence of the Grand Canal into the lagoon and dominates the cityscape. Bähr, however, has never been abroad where he could have studied domed structures, e.g. B. in Italy.

Neumarkt with Frauenkirche and Old Town Guard on a painting by Canaletto
Careful attention to the dome of the Frauenkirche in Dresden , colored etching by Carl August Richter , 1824

Longuelune and his pupil Knöffel criticized George Bähr's baroque design for the Frauenkirche. From 1726, George Bähr was no longer able to oppose the baroque-classical objections of Longuelune and Knöffel at the Dresden Academy. They demanded from the Frauenkirche, which was conceived as the “sister of the Santa Maria della Salute ” of Venice, that its dome in the style of the classicist Baroque France should be “more oval and therefore better raised”. In 1728/1729, however, Bähr again presented a plan that included a stone dome and a wooden dome. Even the floor plan and interior fittings came from Knöffel. George Bähr died in 1738. His pupil Johann George Schmidt was long considered his successor . However, from recent research we know that contrary to the opinion widespread in literature, George Friedrich Winckler was appointed to the office of Bähr and completed the construction. The only part of the Frauenkirche that was free of classicist influences was the chancel, which was provided with sculptures by the sculptors Benjamin Thomae and Johann Christian Feige .

In 1733 the construction of the stone dome was contractually agreed. As early as 1738, the construction department discovered cracks in the dome, in the main arches and in the vaults. In contrast, the foundations were found to be in order. Construction of the lantern could not begin until 1741 . On May 27, 1743, almost five years after the death of George Bähr, the erection of a dome cross finally completed the monumental building. Löscher had enforced the cross against the plans of Bähr, who had provided an obelisk (pyramid) as a crown, and Brühl's demand that an A-like obelisk symbolize the reign of Augustus the Strong. Gaetano Chiaveri , who was the architect of the Catholic Court Church in Dresden and an accomplished structural engineer, previously assessed the stability of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and, as a result of his findings, vehemently advocated the demolition of the Bähr stone dome. He argued that the structure was dimensioned for the weight of a wooden dome and the stone dome was too heavy for it.

The Dresden Frauenkirche was one of the most important Protestant sacred buildings of the German Baroque. The central building of Bähr had a dome made entirely of Saxon sandstone . The Dresden dome was particularly fascinating because of its concave (inwardly curved) shape in the lower part, which was reminiscent of a bell . This was unique in the world and gave the building the name “the stone bell”. Their enormous load rested, which Bähr did not intend to the extent, mainly on eight pillars in the interior, which were somewhat closer to the diagonals than to the main axes to direct the pressure of the domed vault against the corner towers and thus suggested a cross shape.

The outer walls formed an almost square floor plan , which was broken through by the semicircular choir . The stair towers in the corners - which did not yet exist in Bähr's first drafts for a church with a wooden dome - served as abutments for the stone dome and led to galleries between the pillars. A stair tower crowning with its flame vases can be seen on the stair towers. The weight of the bell towers on top of the stair towers should increase the static moment. In expectation of high loads on the pillars, Bähr had them built from stones twice as high as those used in the outer walls in order to reduce the number of joints. Each pillar continued to the outside in two roughly radial wall panels. Together with the pillar, these formed a “Y” when viewed from above. Bähr called this arrangement "Spieramen". In the sense of his static basic concept that the power flow roughly follows the shape of a pyramid, he wanted to continue to involve the outer walls in the load bearing. In front of the choir was a double curved staircase with a lectern in the middle, behind it a monumental baroque altar, which was crowned by the organ prospect. Due to acoustic problems, a second pulpit was installed on the left pillar of the choir above the stairs in 1738 . The benches within the domed room were concentrically aligned with a point between the lectern and the altar , while the benches surrounding them between and behind the pillars were in the middle of the room. This additionally emphasized the double focus of the room center and choir, which was already laid out in the architecture. The proportions, the very high pillars and tall, narrow windows were reminiscent of Gothic cathedrals .

The Frauenkirche had a total height of 91.23 meters. It was 41.96 meters wide and 50.02 meters long. The outer dome began at a height of about 40 meters, and the lantern - the dome top - opened at a lofty height of 62 meters above Dresden's Neumarkt . The brick dome, reinforced with 24 ribs, had an outer diameter of 26.15 meters at the bottom, around 10 meters at the top, a wall thickness of 2.30 meters (below) to 1.30 meters (above) and weighed, depending on the source , about 9,000 to 12,000 tons. It encased another thin-skinned dome. A running track ("donkey walk") with two and a half turns led between the two domes with a gradient of 14% up to the lantern. During the construction it was used to transport stones with the help of carts.

Frauenkirche until 1945

The Frauenkirche around 1897

Defects in the construction and execution of the church building resulted in repeated repairs, which were mainly related to the weight of the massive stone dome. This by itself was basically correctly constructed by Bähr - rather intuitively. However, contrary to the opinion of George Bähr, who also assumed that the load was distributed over the outer walls, the eight inner pillars in the nave had to take their main load.

Matthias Lugenheim gives the following dimensions in his doctorate: dome including lantern 7770 t, tambour (the cylindrical part between the curved area of ​​the dome and the dome face) 3290 t, dome face 3480 t. In the case of a successful load distribution in the sense of George Bähr, only 23% of this would have remained on the eight inner pillars. If these carried the main load and only parts of the dome approach would load on the spar and outer walls, the pillars would have to take up 76% of the building mass above them. In that case each pillar would be loaded with about 1382 t.

In addition, sandstone that was too soft and poor grouting material were used for the inner pillars. This softer Cotta sandstone was chosen (compressive strength according to today's standard DIN EN 192 a good 11% lower than that of the harder Posta sandstone ) because it was easy to work with for stone carving on the capitals, but this was fatal for the load-bearing capacity of the pillars. Furthermore, Bähr intended that the joints in the center of the pillar were thicker than in the outer areas. The outer parts in particular, which thus bore the greater share of the load, were weakened the most by the heat of the 1945 fire. When the remains of a collapsed pillar were demolished, joints up to 8 cm thick and inferior stone material were found inside - a result of the cost pressure Bähr was exposed to. In addition, the pillars were not centered on their foundations. The resulting one-sided pressure also deformed the already highly stressed subsoil. The pressure of the dome neck led to compression of the pillars and thus to a reduced interaction of the individual support members of the church. The resulting thrust on the main cornice zone caused cracks in the capitals of the pillars and in the spar names. In addition, the dome load came off-center, about 90 cm from the center of the pillar towards the inside of the church, on the pillars. (In other words, if the diameter of the dome were approx. 1.8 m larger, it would rest in the middle of the pillars.) This created asymmetrical loads on the pillar heads and, as a result, edge pressures of up to 13 N / mm², which the soft sandstone does not had grown. In 1735, just one year after the Frauenkirche was consecrated, the pillars had to be repaired with iron clips and plastering. During the construction of the dome until 1736, four ring anchors made of simple wrought iron (which roughly corresponds to today's St 33 ) with a cross-section of 4 cm × 4 cm to 5 cm × 9 cm were drawn in to increase their stability. These were intuitively placed in the right places by Bähr, but could not be significantly pre-tensioned with the means at the time, so that they would only have been tightened after the dome had been pushed apart considerably, which they were supposed to prevent. At most, such anchors could be pretensioned a little by installing them in a heated state. The form-fitting connection of the ends of the anchor parts (see picture) only caused by iron wedges being hammered in, which also caused slippage. The dome ring anchors recovered in the 1990s were stretched. That is, they were undersized. Bähr considered adding a ring anchor at the height of the main cornice - but that didn't happen.

Another weak point in the construction of the old church was the horizontal arrangement of the masonry joints in the Spieramen heads. As a result, the joints in this area of ​​the old building were not only subjected to pressure but also to shear. During the reconstruction / rebuilding, the joints were arranged at an angle, running from the bottom inside to the top outside.

During the Seven Years' War the artillery of the Prussian army shelled the dome. This withstood the bombardment without structural damage, so that Bähr's doubted construction gained confidence. The war did not allow repairs until 1765. Again, the pier shafts were secured with clamps and bandages to prevent further lowering of the dome. The first external renovation was carried out in 1820/21, during which plants were removed, the masonry was re-grouted and some loose stones were secured.

Through the joints in the sandstone slabs of the towing roof (dome approach), which were already difficult to seal, water repeatedly penetrated the building fabric. The formation of cracks was encouraged by the sinking and drifting apart of the dome and the evasion of the walls to the outside. Attempts were made to defuse the problem by subsequently attaching metal sheets to drain off the water. This penetration of moisture and the lack of heating in the Frauenkirche also damaged the wood stock, some of which had to be replaced in 1844. Further renovations followed in 1861, among other things, but the basic problem of the dome that was constantly drifting apart and sinking was not solved.

Parts of the wrought iron ring anchors of the historic dome

The inner pillars, actually made of pure sandstone, had to be supported more and more by the installation of foreign, harder material, especially on the capitals. There were also frequent repairs to the pier shafts because they got out of alignment.

In 1902, when lightning struck a corner tower, plaster flaked off a pillar. Crumbling sandstone appeared. This was replaced by hard-burned bricks and the two inner pillars flanking the sanctuary were girded with iron bandages.

In 1924 stones had fallen from the dome. The building inspector locked the church. Pieces of stone tens of centimeters in size had burst out of a capital. The rotten wooden structure of some galleries was replaced by steel structures in 1929. From 1930 in particular, the pillars, which threatened to burst, were stabilized with additional steel strips. Such tapes were found during the debris removal; in the case of pillar G, every stone layer was partially girdled with a band. Furthermore, steel anchors were often used, but their effect was minimal, and the church reopened in 1932.

On August 27, 1933, a memorial by the architect Oskar Menzel for the soldiers who died in the First World War was inaugurated with a simple black cross in the floor of the Frauenkirche . This memorial was not restored when the church was rebuilt.

In 1937, after heavy rainfall, water seeped through the outer dome. Dangerous cracks were discovered in the structure below it and in the thin-walled dome shell inside. So the building police closed the church again in 1938. Now attempts were made to fundamentally address the problem that made constant repairs necessary. The Dresden statics professor Georg Rüth prepared a damage report. He said that the contact surface of the pillar foundations was too small and that they would sink too much into the subsoil. For this reason, inclined and downwardly arched belt arches made of reinforced concrete were used between the eight pillar foundations and tensioned with horizontally acting jacks. The resulting contact pressure on the subsoil was relatively low. The additional support surfaces would only have become effective if the foundations had sunk slightly further. The outer dome was protected from further drifting apart by three inner reinforced concrete ring anchors. The individual links were firmly connected to one another and prevented from being drifted apart. This work was the last repair work on the Frauenkirche before it was destroyed. However, that did little to change the overstressing of the pillars themselves, especially in the area of ​​the capitals. Because the outer walls and outer parts of the spar, which were supposed to take up a considerable part of the dome's weight, had long been pushed outwards by the underestimated, horizontal and inclined forces of the dome vault and from the inner pillars through a number of cracks, which Georg Rüth documented in his drawing been severed. As a result, the outer walls were only able to reduce the load on the pillars. The cracks were filled with cement injections. Even Rüth's measures could not bring about a shift of the loads from the pillars to the outside; however, the church was no longer in danger of collapsing and could be consecrated again on the 1st of Advent 1942. The interior renovation then dragged on until 1943.

Measurements taken during the reconstruction, however, showed that the pillar foundations of the collapsed church - contrary to Georg Rüth's assumption - had only sagged insignificantly. Rather, compression in the overstrained pillars led to the dome sinking and cracks in the supporting structure.

During the time of National Socialism , the Frauenkirche gained additional importance through the efforts of the " German Christians " to declare it a center of German Protestantism with National Socialist characteristics. For this purpose, they called it the cathedral , a term whose use can still be proven in 1945.

Destruction in World War II

View of the destroyed Frauenkirche after 1945
Martin Luther's monument in front of the ruins of the Frauenkirche, 1958
The ruins of the Frauenkirche, around 1965

After the three air raids on Dresden by bombers of the British RAF and the American USAAF on February 13 and 14, 1945, the Frauenkirche burned down completely. Some windows had been bricked up, the others were damaged by the high- explosive bombs falling on Neumarkt or burst from the extreme heat. The Frauenkirche was defenselessly exposed to the firestorm , which raged the most in the city center with a fire of up to 1200 degrees Celsius. This spread from the Coselpalais to the church.

An Air Force film archive was housed in the basement of the church . Back then , the films were made of celluloid , which is easily combustible and generates enormous heat in the process. However, since some of the films were recovered almost intact when the archaeological rubble was cleared in advance of the reconstruction, after careful investigation it is now assumed that these films did not contribute to the development of the heat of the fire and thus the collapse of the building.

The main reason for this was, on the one hand, the interior with lots of wood, which provided the fire with plenty of food after the windows melted. Sandstone cannot withstand as much heat as hard stone, such as is used in the Kreuz- and Hofkirche , for example . It expanded until it eventually cracked and burst, losing its stability. This damage to its structure can be recognized by the transformation of the clay contained in the sandstone to a red color. Subsequent heat tests with ruin parts showed that the heat of the fire penetrated the masonry in a damaging manner up to about 10 cm.

On the other hand, despite all the stabilization measures, the inner pillars were already stressed to the limit of their load-bearing capacity before the fire.

After the major attack on the city, there was no more house on Neumarkt. The Martin Luther monument in front of the church was badly damaged. Long after the attack, the Frauenkirche was still burning while the dome loomed over the ruins. On February 15 at 10 a.m., the burned-out inner pillars could finally no longer bear the weight of the enormous vault construction with the stone dome. Due to the position of the parts still standing after the collapse, the surrounding walls of the choir up to the main cornice and the towering ruins of the northwest corner tower, it can be assumed that one of the pillars in the southeast corner was the first to collapse due to material fatigue and overloading. An eyewitness reported a faint crackling sound that she heard shortly before the collapse. The dome then tilted towards the first pillar that was broken. Their now unevenly distributed, moving weight led to overloading and bursting of all other pillars within a fraction of a second. Under the tremendous pressure of the dome, which initially fell down almost as a whole, rotating a little on its own axis and shattering more and more, the massive outer walls were blown apart and the building collapsed with a thud. A huge, black cloud of dust rose over the city. For many Dresden residents, this event exceeded the previous destruction in its symbolic power; for them the last hope of being able to receive at least something from old Dresden was destroyed. A huge pile of rubble lay where the church used to be. The altar created by Johann Christian Feige was saved from complete destruction, as tin dripping from the melting organ, which was completely smashed, preserved it and falling wooden parts of the organ softened the force of the falling rubble of the dome. On the night of February 13-14, 1945, 300 people found shelter in the church's cellars. After it started to burn, it was difficult for them to leave the rooms as the fire spread rapidly.

Dealing with the church ruins after the war

Aerial photo of the almost empty Neumarkt with Johanneum and ruins of the Frauenkirche (right), 1972 (view from the town hall tower)
1973: Memorial without design
Ruins of the Frauenkirche October 1985

After the war, the first investigations into the reconstruction were carried out on the initiative of the then regional curator Hans Nadler . Since the State Office for the Preservation of Monuments did not yet have grants at its disposal, the Evangelical Lutheran State Church Office, arranged by the construction consultant Walther Hultsch, took over the costs. In addition, 850 stones were inventoried, transported to Salzgasse and stored. At the insistence of the city council, these stones were used to pave the Brühl Terrace in 1959 , half of which was saved and brought back to the rubble mountain. The large-scale clearing of rubble in Dresden city center in the spirit of new socialist urban development quickly dashed hopes for reconstruction. The Dresden Monument Preservation organized a covering of the tops of the ruin stumps with sheet metal. The attempt by the authorities to clear the mountain of rubble in 1962 in favor of a parking area failed. There were protests from the population, and there was also a lack of money. In order to prevent its removal, the mountain of rubble was planted with roses on the initiative of Hans Nadler.

During the GDR era, the rubble mountain in Dresden city center was preserved as a memorial for over 40 years , similar to the ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin . Many surviving Dresden residents remembered their relatives who had died in the bombing and for whom there were often no graves.

In 1966, the GDR officially declared the church ruins as a memorial against the war. However, there was no design, so that the increasingly dilapidated ruin was in the middle of a wasteland. From then on, however, the day Dresden was destroyed was used for state-controlled commemorative demonstrations at the ruins. On February 13, 1982, at the height of the “Swords to Plowshares” movement , Christians from Dresden called for the first time to quietly commemorate the war on the ruins of the Frauenkirche. In the 1980s, this call led to gatherings of groups from the GDR civil rights and peace movement on February 13th at the ruins to silently commemorate the war. Attempts by government agencies to prevent these meetings have met with little success.

The Saxon State Church planned at this time preservation of the ruins that should be preserved as a monument reconciliation. The lower church should accommodate an exhibition about the history of the Frauenkirche and at the same time serve as a "room of silence". The state synod of the Saxon regional church rejected the state demand from the early 1980s to rebuild the church with Western funds . She was also supported in this by parts of the peace movement.

In 1985, the City Council of Dresden worked out a long-term plan for the next projects after the reconstruction of the Semperoper was completed , which also included the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche after the work on the City Palace was completed. The reasons given for this included the progressive weathering of the sandstone remains and the resulting loss of the memorial character. However, these plans became obsolete after the fall of the Berlin Wall.


First plans to rebuild

The ruins of the Frauenkirche in 1991

In the fall of the turning point of 1989, on Reformation Day, an “open letter” from Günter Voigt to the regional bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony, Johannes Hempel, with the idea of ​​reconsidering the reconstruction , set an important sign. From a group of like-minded Dresden citizens who met in November 1989, the “ Call from Dresden ”, which Pastor Karl-Ludwig Hoch formulated , arose . The appeal was made on February 12, 1990.

The idea of ​​rebuilding the church now took on more and more concrete forms. As a result of the appeal, the “Society for the Promotion of the Reconstruction of the Frauenkirche in Germany e. V. “, whose commission developed the concept for an archaeological reconstruction with the participation of some prominent Dresdeners like Ludwig Güttler , from then on did decisive persuasion for the reconstruction (at first there were only ten percent supporters) and collected donations. In 1991 the “Foundation for Reconstruction Frauenkirche” was established, which led the entire reconstruction. On March 18, 1991, the Saxon regional synod decided to rebuild the Frauenkirche.

Responses to the planned reconstruction and funding

Cataloged stones (1999)

From the beginning there was also criticism of the project by architects and historians: With the ruin, a war memorial was also lost. In addition, due to the massive war damage, the project would only be a historicizing new building anyway . The construction and the technical equipment are by no means contemporary, but rather correspond to modern technology. For example, there are now 85 kilometers of electrical cables and 7.7 kilometers of heating cables in the church; the air conditioning can circulate 40,000 cubic meters of air per hour. Hydraulically tensioned anchor systems made of high quality steel support the church. To get to the viewing platform above the dome, visitors use an elevator to cover part of their way. In this respect, the "New Frauenkirche" has a historicizing coat, but is nothing more than a replica of the lost original building, comparable for example with the " Old Berlin Command Office " or the plans to rebuild parts of the old town on Frankfurt's Römer . Applicable standards forbade an original reconstruction with the structural defects and the partly inadequate material of the old church. For example, the pressures to be expected in the masonry, even with a redistribution of the dome load (which Bähr did not really succeed in), are well above all values ​​specified in the DIN for masonry. Proponents, on the other hand, emphasize the symbolic value of reconstruction and its financing from predominantly private donations.

The total costs of the reconstruction amounted to 180 million euros . About 115 million euros of this came from donations from all over the world. The remaining 65 million euros were provided by the city of Dresden, the Free State of Saxony and the federal government in roughly equal parts.

Despite the occasional shortage of money, the reconstruction could be carried out without any interruptions. In addition to the collection of donations by the “Society for the Promotion of Reconstruction of the Frauenkirche e. V. ”and the“ Frauenkirche Foundation ”, the so-called Stifterbrief initiated by Dresdner Bank with values ​​between 250 and 10,000 euros with a donation volume of around 75 million euros brought the breakthrough for the financial security of the reconstruction. The "Society for the Promotion of the Reconstruction of the Frauenkirche in Germany" contributed 31 million euros. A total of 16 support groups got involved in reconstruction regionally inside and outside Germany. As a sign of reconciliation, the British "Dresden Trust", one of the most important among these circles and chaired by Allan Russell in Great Britain , collected more than one million euros in donations, to which the British royal family also contributed from their private treasury.

The Dresden trumpeter Ludwig Güttler collected donations with concerts and donated the prize money for the national prize he had received in the GDR as "start-up capital". As a corporation, Dresdner Bank donated a total of seven million euros until it was rebuilt. The American Günter Blobel , who grew up in Freiberg , donated around 820,000 euros from his Nobel Prize for Medicine to the Friends of Dresden sponsorship company he founded . In the course of the organ dispute , however, there were also donations rejected; so the Dussmann Foundation withdrew its donation commitment.

Reconstruction from 1996 to 2005

For the reconstruction, the heap of rubble, which was 17 m high, measured from the floor of the large-scale collapsed basement rooms, was removed stone by stone from January 4, 1993, and a millimeter-accurate, three-dimensional and stone-based survey of all parts of the ruins was made. The catacombs under the pile of rubble were already measured while the rubble was being cleared. All still usable rubble stones were cataloged and stored. From the location in the rubble mountain and with geo-computer programs , some of which were specially created for this task, the original place in the walls of many stones could be determined. Existing old documents, e.g. B. from the stabilization measures in the years 1938 to 1942, helped. Over 8,000 pieces were recovered from the rubble, 3,539 of which were built into the outer facade.

Among the rubble were 84 large parts weighing between 5 and 139 tons. 16 could be lifted out of the rubble as a whole. The heaviest of these was the 95-tonne roof section of the north-eastern bell tower, lying upside down in the rubble and therefore called the “butterfly”. Other large parts were crushed at the place where they were found, as their condition made them unsuitable for re-installation in the church. Further large pieces, which were also unsuitable for reinstallation, were specifically exposed to the weather for several years after the recovery in order to research their influence. As a result of the clearing of rubble, the building site in the middle of the former rubble pile rose by 11 mm.

Before and during the removal of the heap of rubble, extensive investigations of the subsoil and the foundations were carried out. It turned out that the church was founded on a 10 m thick, stable layer of gravel. This lay on a layer of hard limestone (Pläner) to protect it from breaking ground. Deposits of clay and other soft materials, such as those found near rivers, were not found under the church. The sandstone used for the foundations turned out to be sufficiently strong, and the quality of the lowest masonry layers was still quite good. The church could therefore be rebuilt on the old foundations and foundation walls. The additional foundations from Rüth were left in place.

The foundation stone of the new Frauenkirche was laid on May 27, 1994. The reconstruction began in 1996 under the master builder Eberhard Burger . In order to enable the reconstruction to be as quick and smooth as possible, it was decided to use a weather protection roof that could grow in height with the construction, and a side enclosure for the cold season. After a certain construction phase had been reached, the weather protection roof had to be hydraulically raised several times by a few meters and adjusted for the new position. This process was specially developed for the construction of the Frauenkirche. It made it possible to continue construction in any weather and also in winter. As a result, temperatures suitable for working with sandstone, mortar and concrete could be guaranteed all year round.

In this context the Ev.-Luth. Regional Church of Saxony, the Free State of Saxony and the City of Dresden - each with a third share - the "Frauenkirche Foundation", into which the regional church contributed the church building as a tangible asset. This foundation is the permanent owner of the church building.

The reconstruction of the Frauenkirche was completed in autumn 2005, much faster than originally expected, as the donations exceeded all expectations. The external shape of the Frauenkirche was restored in August 2004 and not in 2005 as planned.

German postage stamp: Consecration of the Dresden Frauenkirche 2005

On April 13, 2004, the last stone of the main dome of the Frauenkirche was installed. On June 22nd, 2004, the copper-studded wooden construction of the tower hood with the gilded cross was placed on the lantern above the stone dome and the former external appearance was restored. The Frauenkirche now has the final height of 91.24 meters.

In fact, it was possible to divert about two thirds of the dome mass outside the pillars. Measurements showed that the foundations of the pillars had sunk only slightly (a few millimeters) compared to those of the outer walls during the construction of the shell.

During the interior work, the painting and installation of the stalls were then completed. In the early summer of 2005, the organ made by the Strasbourg organ builder Daniel Kern with a total of 4873 organ pipes was installed. The viewing platform at a height of 67 m, from which one has a view of the Elbe panorama and the city center, was opened to visitors on Tuesday, February 1st, 2005. On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Dresden on February 13, 2005, the interior was opened for silent commemoration.

On October 30, 2005, the Frauenkirche was consecrated again by the Saxon regional bishop Jochen Bohl and thus given its future purpose as a place of worship. During the ceremony, the liturgical items were also returned to the church. In his sermon during the service, Regional Bishop Jochen Bohl thanked those responsible for the reconstruction and those involved in it beforehand.

The consecration service took place with 1,700 invited guests in the church and at least 60,000 other people on the church square, who followed it on a screen. After the service part, Federal President Horst Köhler gave the keynote address in which he referred to the Frauenkirche as a symbol of civil freedom and German unity.

View of the city from the Frauenkirche lantern (May 2015)

A detailed description of the 360-degree panorama can be found here

Building description

Lower church

Lower church

Before the reconstruction of the actual church building began, the lower church was rebuilt. In this way, spaces for church services, guided tours and concerts could be created even before the opening of the finished church. The consecration of the lower church took place on August 21, 1996.

The lower church is shaped like a Greek cross . Four rooms are housed in the diagonal arms of this cross shape. These were used for burial from 1728 and were a replacement for the cemetery that surrounded the previous Gothic church and was dismantled when the baroque Frauenkirche was rebuilt. Between 1728 and 1787, 244 burials took place in the tombs . When the Frauenkirche was destroyed, only the southwest burial chamber (C) remained undamaged. The installation of the coffins in the brick grave sites is largely preserved in it. The other grave rooms were newly vaulted during the reconstruction and now serve as devotional chapels.

The choir chapel in the eastern part of the lower church is located directly under the chancel of the main church. Two multi-part architecture-like sculptures of Michael Schoenholtz make destruction and construction in emblematic fashion each other. Both sculptures consist of elements that are identical in dimensions. While the destruction still allows certain speculations about the original shape, the structure is not yet in a completed state.

At the lowest point of the Frauenkirche, at the apex of the cruciform barrel vault , there is an altar stone made of black Irish limestone . It was created by Anish Kapoor , an artist living in Great Britain with a Jewish mother and Indian father.

After her consecration, the Cross of Nails of Coventry , which was given by the Bishop of Coventry as a token of reconciliation, was initially in the lower church. Since then, the Frauenkirche has been part of the international community of the Cross of Nails. The cross has stood on the altar of the main church since the consecration of the Frauenkirche.

External structure

For a church that was rebuilt around the turn of the millennium, some facilities that were not available in George Bähr's construction were seen as necessary: ​​building services (such as air conditioning / heating / transformer station), toilets, cloakrooms, etc. An accommodation of these in the historical cellars would be has been unfavorable due to the risk of groundwater ingress. In the interests of reconstruction as close as possible to the original, the cellars could not and did not want to be waterproofed with modern means. It was left with the installation of a pump under the basement. This is switched on when the groundwater level is threatening. Instead, a U-shaped, watertight reinforced concrete structure secured against buoyancy was erected, encompassing the foundations and foundation walls of the church on three sides, the top of which is just below the level of Neumarkt. This takes on the facilities mentioned. During the Elbe flood in 2002 , the external structure under construction had to be secured against floating with additional weights and heavy objects (containers, filled troughs, etc.) currently on the construction site.

Stone construction

Old and new stone material

The engineers tried, as far as possible, to follow Bähr's “stone and iron” principle. Therefore, among other things, they rejected the option of pouring the dome from reinforced concrete and only clad it with sandstone. They also refrained from absorbing the horizontal thrust of the dome with a reinforced concrete ring, the tension of which cannot be regulated.

During the reconstruction, the cataloged stones, a total of 43 percent of the original building fabric, were partially reused. Of the 84 large parts, only two, the “butterfly”, which still weighs 74 t after reconditioning, and a further piece weighing 18 t, could be lifted back to their original place. All the others were sorted out or divided up, as damage to the interior was to be assumed as a result of the stresses caused by the collapse and the decades of lying in the open air. The two built-in large parts are also only in statically uncritical places.

The remains of the corner tower and the choir were also integrated into the building. Part of the standing walls had been pushed out of the vertical by the force of the falling debris. As far as justifiable, they were integrated into the new masonry with the existing inclination. These parts of the ruins, which remained standing at the time, alone make up 34 percent of the total mass.

Due to the black patina of the old stones, a natural coloration of the sandstone due to oxidation of the iron it contains, and the new light-colored sandstone, the building looks like a big puzzle. However, the new stones of the Frauenkirche will darken over time until they no longer differ from the original stones. A special treatment, as in comparison with the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, was dispensed with.

Domed structure

Dresden Neumarkt with Frauenkirche

The old sandstones had been exposed to heat and temperature fluctuations during the fire, in particular when building the dome, no risk was taken with regard to their load-bearing capacity and weather resistance - the stones of the dome are exposed to particularly heavy loads. The dome structure ("stone bell") therefore consists exclusively of new sandstone.

Now six instead of four ring anchors stabilize the dome. They are made of steel instead of wrought iron and are guided and prestressed in recesses in the dome masonry on slideways. In the case of the two lowest rings (the dome has a circumference of around 80 m), the pretensioning alone (around 1.2 MN each) causes an expansion of 152 mm each. These are forces that could never be found when the dome was built in the 1730s.

George Bähr had individual iron passive tie rods inserted in the 16 spar heads. During the reconstruction, anchors, each consisting of four tension rods, were used in each head. Their outer ends are now anchored to a reinforced concrete block embedded in the Spieramen masonry. The blocks have bearing surfaces facing the dome and can therefore absorb the lateral pressure coming from it. The inner ends of the tension rods are attached to the corner points of an octagonal, free-floating anchor ring at the height of the main cornice. Since the eight spiers facing the corner towers are more stable than the eight facing the outer walls, a corresponding division of the forces to be transmitted by the tension rods was made at the corners of the octagonal anchor ring by means of rockers. Each corner tower pier is pulled at its upper end with about 4.3 MN (corresponds to about 440 tons) in the direction of the inside of the church, each sparame facing the outer wall with approx. 2.6 MN (265 t). The double anchor ring consists of hidden but accessible steel elements. It replaces tie rods stretched across the church, which George Bähr avoided and which, for aesthetic reasons, should not be installed during the reconstruction. While the dome was being bricked up, it was tensioned in three stages with the help of hydraulics until a final force of 5 MN per anchor ring was reached. This anchor system also enables the coupling loads to be carried over the outer walls and thus relieves the load on the inner pillars (Bähr had planned this too, but his anchoring without a tension ring did not work sufficiently, he probably underestimated the shear forces in the walls). The walls got cracked and this put more stress on the pillars. The step-by-step tensioning also made it possible to compensate for the lateral forces, which increased with the construction of the dome, and the expansion of the anchors without damaging the masonry below.

After two hours of exposure to heat as a result of a fire, the anchor system can still apply 50% of the forces that it transmits at normal temperatures. Even without this, the newly built Frauenkirche has about twice the stability of the old building thanks to the above-mentioned and other structural improvements. Should it fail totally, the church might crack, but it would certainly stop. With the anchor system, the stability is about four times that of the Bähr building.

As with the dome, only new stones were allowed to be installed in the pillars, which were still highly stressed, and in the remaining parts of the spar. The best sandstone that could be found in the Dresden area was used for the pillars: the Posta sandstone from the “White Bank” in Wehlen. The sandstone blocks of the pillars were sawn to the millimeter so that a joint thickness of only approx. 6 mm could be achieved. The maximum pressure in the pillar masonry could be reduced to half the values ​​that occurred in the collapsed pillars, but in the area of ​​the capitals it is still 6 N / mm 2 in places. This is about a tenth of the compressive strength of the Posta sandstone .

For the four slender columns of the lantern, a simple walling up, as in the case of the collapsed church, was no longer considered sufficient. They have been vertically prestressed to achieve sufficient stability.

The universities of Dresden and Karlsruhe had their own research program for the dome for two years. For example, new mortar mixes were necessary because sandstone is only partially suitable for keeping out the rain. The maximum wall thickness of the new dome is only 1.75 meters.

With construction programs from the aircraft , the complicated geometry of the 560 different 15 to 25 cm thick sandstone plates of the double-curved surface of the dome was determined startup. Since, despite these ultra-modern methods, leaks between the panels were still to be expected, thin-walled brick vaults were inserted under the roof as a modern addition to the Bähr structure. Its upper side was coated with a highly elastic polyurethane membrane so that water that penetrates it can be drained off and moisture can diffuse from the inside through the membrane to the outside.

The tower clock in the newly built Dresden Frauenkirche with the three dials was installed by Steffen Höppner in an eleven month construction period. The clockwork comes from the Lohmen church and was built in 1919. Three hammers - one for every quarter of an hour, one for every full hour and one for the hourly look-up - are among the special features of this mechanical tower clock. The clockwork was installed at Whitsun 2003; the test run lasted one and a half months. The restoration was financed by Wempe from Dresden.

The old original tower cross was made by Johann George Schmidt . On June 1, 1993, this so-called dome cross was unexpectedly found in the ruins of the Frauenkirche. Since it was badly damaged, it was replaced by a new one with a gold-plated halo during the reconstruction. Alan Smith, a London-based blacksmith and son of one of the British pilots who bombed Dresden, created the eight meter high cross (worth 500,000 euros). It was financed with donations from the “Dresden Trust” in the United Kingdom . In February 2000, on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the destruction, the new cross was handed over by the patron of the Dresden Trust, Edward, 2nd Duke of Kent , in Dresden and could be viewed until it was set up. On June 22, 2004, it was placed on the lantern together with the baroque hood covered with sheet copper as a "reconciliation cross" to mark friendship between the United Kingdom and Germany in the presence of 60,000 spectators.


The Frauenkirche has a length of 50.02 m (west-east direction) and a width of 41.96 m (north-south direction). Its total height, including the tower cross, is 91.23 m. In the interior, the dome ceiling extends up to a height of 36.65 m.

The dome is, without the dome and the lantern, 24 m high. Its outer diameter is 26.15 m, the dome masonry is between 1.19 m and 1.75 m thick. The visitor platform on the tower lantern is located at a height of 67.06 m.



Old altar and Silbermann organ around 1890
Detail of the rebuilt altar, 2014

The organ and altar are harmoniously placed one above the other and visually almost merge into one another.

The actual altar by Johann Christian Feige , or its core, which was walled in after the war, was recovered from the rubble of the old Frauenkirche and deliberately reused in the new building with its damage. In its visual rawness, it forms a contrast to the otherwise opulent Dresden Baroque of the church and thus a permanent memorial. In the larger figural level of the altar, in addition to the central scene with Jesus on the Mount of Olives, two people from the New Testament and two people from the Old Testament are shown: on the far left, Moses with the tablets of the law, in the middle on the left, Paul with sword and book, in the middle on the right, Philip with the cross and on the far right Moses brother Aaron with breastplate and censer as priest. An angel over Moses and Paul wears a chain made of ears of wheat and over Philip and Aaron another angel wears a chain made of grapes. Together they stand for bread and wine or body and blood of Christ and the Lord's Supper . To the left above Jesus are a large and a small angel . To the right of him the sleeping disciples are depicted (colorless). Jerusalem can be seen on the right above Jesus . An angel with a cross can be seen directly above Jesus - an indication of the nature of the coming death. The Eye of God , also called the Eye of Providence , is enthroned directly above and above everything . As usual in the Baroque era, it is surrounded by clouds. Above, in turn, is the organ's balustrade.

The reconstruction of the subsequently built, second pulpit was dispensed with. On the one hand, this was not planned by George Bähr, on the other hand, the acoustic problems of 1738 have already been resolved due to a loudspeaker system.

The galleries are supported by steel constructions clad with fire protection panels. The earlier wooden structures were insufficiently documented for reconstruction and did not meet today's structural requirements. The distance between the rows of seats in the new galleries has been adjusted accordingly, as people are larger now than in the 18th century. The lowest, glazed gallery with the prayer room was reconstructed without the compartments that existed before the destruction in order to allow joint participation in the events.


New building by Silbermann in 1736

Gottfried Silbermann built a three-manual organ with 43 registers from 1732 to 1736 . The prospectus came from George Bähr and Johann Christian Feige .

Modifications and extensions

Repairs were carried out in the 18th and 19th centuries, in some cases with changes in mood, by Johann Gottfried Hildebrandt (1769), Johann Christian and Friedrich Traugott Kayser (1788 and 1818/1819) and Friedrich Nicolaus Jahn (1826). The work of Johann Gotthold Jehmlich (1845/1847) was more extensive. When the organ was renewed (1874/1875), Carl-Eduard Jehmlich exchanged the repeating third of the Oberwerk for Fugara 8 ′, when Emil Robert Höpner was organist at the Frauenkirche from 1872 to 1885 and from 1874 also a teacher at the Dresden Conservatory .

An extension by Johannes Jahn (1911/1912) was used to adapt the organ to contemporary tonal and technical requirements. It included u. a. the changeover to pneumatic action , a modern console with numerous playing aids and the installation of a swell and some additional stops in the main work , upper work and pedal.

In 1937 the Jehmlich brothers built a choir organ on the west gallery. In 1939/1943 the main organ, choir organ and a new remote control were expanded by the Jehmlich company into an organ system with an electro-pneumatic action mechanism. This included a central gaming table and three gaming tables for the individual works. The remote control in the dome was fitted with windchests and some whistles from the swellwork from Jahn.

When it was destroyed in 1945, the organ system had 85 stops on five manuals and a pedal. The main organ still contained the Silbermann pipework of 36 registers and the prospect pipes of the Brustwerk principal 4 ′.

New building by Kern in 2005

New organ from Kern in a reconstructed baroque case above the altar, 2015

In the run-up to the new organ, a heated discussion broke out in the years 1997–2002 among organ experts and in public, which has become known as the “organ dispute”. The organ commission set up in 1995 by the foundation council and the board of trustees of the Frauenkirche did not consider a copy of the Silbermann organ to be sensible. The organ of the cathedral (formerly Catholic court church), which was begun under Gottfried Silbermann and is largely preserved, makes a consistent Silbermann replica in the Frauenkirche unnecessary. This was justified by the fact that the old organ was not only modified seven times over the course of time, but was also completely destroyed in the fire and collapse in 1945 and Gottfried Silbermann's exact construction plans were not passed down. A replica of still existing Silbermann organs would not make sense, because organs are designed individually for each room. In addition, only an instrument expanded to include modern elements can meet the diverse demands of the organ repertoire from early music to the present day as well as the function of worship. Not all organ music from the neighboring baroque period could have been realized in an appropriate style with the original Silbermann arrangement.

The plans to build a modern universal organ were heavily criticized by numerous well-known organists, conductors, organ builders and international organ experts, especially from the field of historical performance practice . They demanded a faithful reconstruction of the organ by Gottfried Silbermann from 1736 in its original form, since the other interior fittings of the church had also been faithfully copied. Otherwise the original unity of architecture, optics and sound would be abandoned. It is inconsistent and contradicts the will of the donors to build a modern organ behind the reconstructed organ facade with a “potpourri” of elements from Saxon, Romantic, French and Brandenburg organ building traditions. For one with more than 60 registers, the space in the housing is still not sufficient, the registers cannot develop acoustically. Incidentally, Silbermann's organ building is thoroughly documented. Since Silbermann standardized his organs conceptually, missing information such as dimensions and scale lengths could be found in the original works by Silbermann that were preserved, in particular the organ that was created at the same time and is still largely preserved in Freiberg's Petrikirche . Because of their experience with Silbermann organs, Saxon organ builders would have the best prerequisites for a reconstruction in accordance with the style and the toning decisive intonation .

Since the tender for organ building was running, the “Foundation for the Reconstruction of the Frauenkirche” was not legally permitted to comment on organ building. With the award of the contract to the Strasbourg organ manufacturer Daniel Kern , the organ dispute against the representatives of a Silbermann reconstruction was decided. Günter Blobel then returned his honorary membership in the Frauenkirche Board of Trustees in protest, and the Dussmann Foundation revoked its funding commitment of 1.5 million euros.

The organ loft was modeled on the destroyed original based on images and photos, just as the restorers had done with the rest of the church interior. Three manuals ( main work , upper work, breast work) and the basic set of pedals were designed based on the traditional Silbermann disposition, but with additional parts and with extended manual and pedal ranges. The breastwork is now played from the fourth manual. In addition, a synthesis of the construction methods of Gottfried Silbermann, who worked in Saxony, and his brother, Andreas Silbermann, who worked in Alsace , were sought. In addition, there was a partial work not provided for in the original concept, designed as a swell (in the new concept the third manual). It is primarily intended for the interpretation of post-baroque organ literature. With its registers, the Schwellwerk provides sounds that developed in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially those of the French-Romantic organ tradition. In addition, the instrument received a number of modern playing aids (register crescendo, setter combination with 8192 memory locations) and today's pitch (a 1 = 440 Hz).

The fourth manual can be played half a tone lower (a 1 = 415 Hz) to accompany singers and instrumentalists in early music with authentic instruments . This is done via a transposer by shifting the connection between the manual keys and the further action by a semitone (1 key) and there are additional whistles for the lowest note.

The chosen solution combines two different concepts of current organ building: the historicizing style organ and the universal organ that spans all styles. The new organ has 4876 pipes, 67 stops on four manuals and a pedal and was completed in September 2005. It has the following disposition:

I main work C – a 3
01. Principal 16 ′
02. Drone 16 ′
04th Octave 8th'
04th Viola di gamba 8th'
05. Reed flute 8th'
06th Octave 4 ′
07th Pointed flute 4 ′
08th. Fifth 2 23
09. Octave 2 ′
10. third 1 35
11. Cornet V (from c 1 ) 0
12. Mixture V
13. Zimbel IV
14th bassoon 16 ′
15th Trumpet 8th'
16. Clarine 4 ′
II Oberwerk C – a 3
17th Quintad 16 ′
18th Principal 8th'
19th Quintad 8th'
20th Salicional 8th'
21st Dumped 8th'
22nd Octave 4 ′
23. Reed flute 4 ′
24. Nasat 2 23
25th Octave 2 ′
26th Sesquialtera II 0
27. Mixture IV
28. Trumpets 8th'
29 Chalumeau 8th'
III Récit Expressif C – a 3
30th Bourdon 16 ′
31. Flûte harmonique 8th'
32. Viole de Gambe 8th'
33. Voix Celeste 8th'
34. Bourdon 8th'
35. Principal 4 ′
36. Flûte octaviante 4 ′
37. Octavine 2 ′
38. Piccolo 1'
39. Plein Jeu III-VI
40. Cornet V (from g)
41. Basson 16 ′
42. Trompette harmonique 0 8th'
43. Basson-Hautbois 8th'
44. Voix Humaine 8th'
45. Clairon harmonique 4 ′
IV breastwork C – a 3
46. Dumped 8th'
47. Principal 4 ′
48. Reed flute 4 ′
49. Nasat 2 23
50. Gemshorn 2 ′
51. Octave 2 ′
52. third 1 35
53. Fifth 1 13
54. Sifflet 1'
55. Mixture III
56. Vox humana 0 8th'
Pedal C – g 1
57. Pedestal 32 ′
58. Principal bass 16 ′
59. Sub bass 16 ′
60. Octavbass 8th'
61. Bass flute 8th'
62. Octavbass 4 ′
63. Mixturbass VI
64. bassoon 32 ′
65. trombone 16 ′
66. Trumpet bass 0 8th'
67. Clarine bass 4 ′
  • Pairing :
    • Normal coupling: II / I, III / I, IV / I, III / II, IV / II, I / P, II / P, III / P, IV / P
    • Sub-octave coupling: II / I, III / I
    • Super octave coupling: III / P
  • Playing aids : Transpositeur IV (415 Hz), typesetting combinations (8192 memory locations), Appels des anches I, II, III, P, register crescendo variable, crescendo récit.

Organ prospectus

Angel on the organ prospect

In the upper part of the organ prospect of the Frauenkirche are the two trombone angels by the sculptor Quirin Roth , which are dedicated to the two Dresden writers Kurt Martens and Victor Klemperer .


The baroque Frauenkirche had no "baptism" (in Saxony for baptismal font ) because the right to baptize was claimed and exercised by the Kreuzkirche . Not until the end of the 19th century was a baptismal font erected, which was destroyed when it collapsed in 1945.

In the course of restoring the interior, the initial aim was to win the slightly older baptism of Johann Christian Feige from the Freiberg Petrikirche for the Frauenkirche. Since this is also part of the baroque room concept, which has been changed but is still comprehensible, and was therefore not approved by the community, the Petrigemeinde offered the somewhat younger baptismal font from the Freiberg Nikolaikirche . After the merging of the Nikolai and Petri congregations in the 1970s and the desecration of the Nikolaikirche by the congregation, this stood unused in a side room of the Petrikirche.

The wooden baptism now set up in the Dresden Frauenkirche was created by Johann Gottfried Stecher (1718–1776) from Hainichen in 1753 as part of the baroque renovation of the Nikolaikirche zu Freiberg and consecrated on January 25, 1754. For use in the Frauenkirche, the late-baroque color scheme, coordinated with the Nikolaikirche Freiberg, was replaced by a white and gold version that matches the color scheme of the interior of the Frauenkirche.

Interior dome painting

Paintings inside the dome

The eight paintings in the inner dome were originally created in 1734 by the Italian theater painter Giovanni Battista Grone . They depicted the evangelists Luke , Matthew , Mark and John as well as images of the Christian virtues of faith , hope , love and mercy .

A first attempt at reconstruction failed, the evangelist Johannes was too colorful. The picture was therefore knocked off and the area re-plastered. After a long selection process, the painter Christoph Wetzel was commissioned to restore the interior dome paintings as faithfully as possible. As a template for the eight dome paintings, recordings from the historical color slide archive for the wall and ceiling painting of the Kunsthistorisches Zentralinstitut in Munich were used, which had been created in 1943 as part of the "Führer commission for monumental painting" from the Frauenkirche, which was still intact at the time. However, since the archive, comprising a total of 40,000 images, had been scattered and improperly stored, especially in the chaos that followed the end of the war, it was unclear to what extent the colors of the images corresponded to the actual previous state. For this reason, Christoph Wetzel studied, in addition to the existing archival material, contemporary statements and accounts, other preserved contemporary church interior paintings and portraits in the Saxon region, in southern Germany , Austria and in Venice in order to achieve the greatest possible approximation of the original appearance of the inner dome with the paintings by Grone .

Interior design

The restorer Peter Taubert was mainly responsible for the restoration of the baroque interior color design of the entire church . He also studied the existing archive materials with Sven Taubert and visited historical church paintings in the Saxon region with Prof. Dr. Magirius, Mr. Archt.Gottschlich, Mr. Archt, child and restorer Hans Riedel and ultimately together with Christoph Wetzel and Sven Taubert historical buildings, museums and churches in southern Germany, Austria, Venice and the Vatican.

Bells and tower clocks

The new bells on the Neumarkt before the consecration of the bells in May 2003: Johannes, Jeremiah, Josua - Hanna, Philippus, David and Isaiah (from left to right)
Large Isaiah bell in the oak bell cage

In 2002, the Bachert bell foundry in Karlsruhe initially cast seven new church bells . Due to parts of the bell decoration that were too thick, the partial tone structure of all but the large Isaiah bell was impure, so that a new bell casting was necessary in 2003.

The 1518 cast Marie Bell Master Martin Hilliger is the only surviving of the four bells that had the Frauenkirche to the Second World War. After it was cast, the bell had its place in the Altzella monastery , where it was the largest bell of the three-part main bell. In the course of the secularization of the monastery in 1539, Elector August distributed the bells rather randomly, the Marienglocke found its place at the old Dresden Frauenkirche. The services that had been suspended there during the Reformation were resumed in 1557. In this context, the Frauenkirche received a three-part ringing with the Marienglocke, which rang there until 1722. In 1727 the old Frauenkirche was demolished, and today's Frauenkirche was built between 1726 and 1743. There were three larger bells from 1619, 1733 and 1734, in addition to the Marien bell.

After the First World War, the Frauenkirche received three new bronze bells to replace war losses. The Marienglocke was taken out of service in 1926, allegedly because of its impure tone, and sold to the Hubertusburg State Institution . This is how it escaped destruction in World War II. It was later given away to the Wermsdorf Church , which passed it on to the Dittmannsdorf parish . In 1998 the bell returned to Dresden, where it hung in a temporary wooden tower next to the Frauenkirche. Together with the seven new bells, it now forms an eight-part ring, whereby the old Mary's bell has not been included in the disposition of the new ring . The fifth in the eventful history of the Frauenkirche rang out for the first time on Whit Sunday 2003. The bells, together with those of the Russian Orthodox churches in Dresden and Leipzig and the Nikolaikirche there, are one of the largest in Saxony.

One of the two mechanical tower clocks is located in tower C with the three dials. The clockwork from the church in Lohmen was manufactured in 1919 in the Meißner tower clock factory Otto Fischer, as was the former tower clockwork of the Frauenkirche, which was destroyed in 1945. The clock is triggered every quarter of an hour and every full hour. Subsequently, the number of full hours is repeated on another bell by a second clockwork in tower E. Between the bell chambers, opposite entrance D, you get the most balanced sound impression.


Frauenkirche in the evening light (October 2014)

An Evangelical Lutheran congregation has been using the church since the Reformation . From 1930 to 1937 Hugo Hahn , superintendent of the Dresden-Land church district, was pastor in the Frauenkirche. The pastor and the congregation belonged to the Confessing Church , which was founded in 1934 in the course of the church struggle to differentiate itself from the German Christians (DC). Pastor Hahn took critical positions on National Socialism and was expelled from Saxony by the Gestapo on May 12, 1938 , after he had written a pulpit dismissal on the threat to Christianity by the National Socialists.

From then until 1945, only pastors of the German Christians were appointed to the Frauenkirche. Superintendent Arthur Schuknecht (DC) was replaced in 1942 by Superintendent Max Krebs (DC; born February 4, 1885 in Rochlitz). Krebs was seen as a more radical representative of the German Christians and an avowed National Socialist. In 1945 Max Krebs was arrested by the Soviet occupying forces, was then considered missing and in 1972 was declared dead by the Dresden-Mitte district court .

The Frauenkirche is currently looked after by two pastors (Pastor Angelika Behnke and Pastor Sebastian Feydt (2007–2020)) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony and is open to Dresdeners and tourists as a “City Church”. It does not have its own parish.

The Sunday services at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. and weekday midday and evening services with organ music form the cornerstones of church life at the Frauenkirche. The services are provided by the chamber choir of the Frauenkirche Dresden and the large choir of the Frauenkirche Dresden under the direction of Cantor Matthias Grünert and the organist of the Frauenkirche Samuel Kummer . Regular Sunday music, organ concerts and numerous sacred concerts complement the church music offer. Church weddings and baptisms are also possible in the Frauenkirche.

The Frauenkirche is open to visitors daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but with regular restrictions on events and concert rehearsals. The lower church is designed as a room of silence; a side room of the lower church is intended exclusively as a prayer room. In the first year since its consecration, the Frauenkirche had 2.5 million visitors.

Every year on the eve of Christmas Eve, on December 23rd, a Christmas vespers is held in front of the Frauenkirche. In 1993 it took place for the first time in front of the altar that had just been recovered from the rubble. Initially set up to collect donations for the reconstruction, more and more visitors came in the following years. Since the completion of the church, Vespers has continued in front of the church. Today more than 15,000 participants come every year, regular guests include the Prime Minister of Saxony , the State Bishop and the Lord Mayor . From the beginning, Ludwig Güttler has been involved with his brass ensemble, which is also the overall musical director. Vespers is the largest regular open-air church service in Germany. It has been broadcast on MDR television since 2012 .


  • Gerhard Glaser, Foundation Frauenkirche Dresden (Ed.): The Frauenkirche zu Dresden. Becoming, impact, rebuilding. Dresden 2005, ISBN 3-937602-27-5 .
  • Reinhard Appel : The Dresden Frauenkirche. "Resurrected from ruins ..." Lingen, Cologne 2005, ISBN 3-938323-11-6 .
  • Jürgen Helfricht : The Dresden Frauenkirche. A chronicle from 1000 to today. 8th edition. Husum 2014, ISBN 978-3-89876-122-2 .
  • Jürgen Helfricht: The Dresden Frauenkirche. Church of Our Lady. A chronicle from 1000 AD to the present. Husum, Husum 2010, ISBN 978-3-89876-122-2 .
  • Jürgen Helfricht: Dresden and its churches. Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2005, ISBN 3-374-02261-8 .
  • Frauenkirche Dresden Foundation (ed.): Church leader Frauenkirche Dresden. Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2005, ISBN 3-374-02334-7 .
  • Siegfried Gerlach: George Bähr - The builder of the Dresden Frauenkirche. A picture of time. Böhlau Verlag, Cologne 2005, ISBN 3-412-22805-2 .
  • Ludwig Güttler (ed.): The reconstruction of the Dresden Frauenkirche. Message and broadcast of a worldwide citizens' initiative. Schnell und Steiner publishing house, Regensburg 2006, ISBN 3-7954-1894-1 .
  • Hans-Joachim Kuke: The Frauenkirche in Dresden: "A Saint Peter of the true evangelical religion" . Wernersche Verlagsgesellschaft , Worms 1996, ISBN 3-88462-124-6 .
  • Fritz Löffler : The old Dresden - history of its buildings . EA Seemann, Leipzig 1981, ISBN 3-363-00007-3 .
  • Heinrich Magirius : The Dresden Frauenkirche. Yearbook in 15 volumes. 1995-2011.
  • Heinrich Magirius: The Dresden Frauenkirche by George Bähr. Origin and meaning. Deutscher Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-87157-211-X .
  • Reinhard Spehr : excavations in the Frauenkirche of Nisan / Dresden. In: Judith Oexle (ed.): Early churches in Saxony. Results of archaeological and architectural studies. (= Publications of the State Office for Archeology with State Museum for Prehistory. 23). Theiss-Verlag, Stuttgart 1994, ISBN 3-8062-1094-2 , pp. 206-217.
  • Volker Rausch: Facility Management in cultural and historical real estate. Development of a concept for the maintenance and care in cultural and historical buildings using the example of the Frauenkirche Dresden. VDM Verlag, Saarbrücken 2010, ISBN 978-3-639-24125-9 .
  • Frauenkirche Foundation (ed.): The organ of the Dresden Frauenkirche. Sandstein Verlag, Dresden 2015, ISBN 978-3-95498-197-7 .
  • Fritz Wenzel (Ed.): Reports on the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche in Dresden. Universitätsverlag Karlsruhe, 2007, ISBN 978-3-86644-090-6 .

Web links

Commons : Frauenkirche  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Digitized version of Löscher's sermon in the laying of the foundation stone
  2. ^ Digitized version of Löscher's inauguration sermon
  3. ^ Fritz Löffler: The old Dresden. 1981, p. 196.
  4. a b Dresden and Saxony - Dresden - Dresden Frauenkirche - history. Retrieved February 12, 2019 .
  5. ^ Siegfried Gerlach: George Bähr - The builder of the Dresden Frauenkirche. A picture of time . Böhlau Verlag, Cologne 2005, ISBN 978-3-412-22805-7 , pp. 201 .
  6. ^ Fritz Löffler: The old Dresden. 1981, p. 197.
  7. a b c statics. Retrieved April 3, 2019 .
  8. Frauenkirche Dresden. In: VOGEL Steinmetz- & Bilhauerwerkstätten Vogel GbR. Retrieved on July 2, 2019 (German).
  9. ^ A b Matthias Lugenheim: The correlation of architectural form and structural form in dome construction and their influence on civil engineering - illustrated using the example of the Frauenkirche in Dresden. Dissertation. Technical University of Dresden, 2002 ( online ).
  10. a b c architecture. In: Frauenkirche Dresden Foundation, accessed on July 4, 2019 .
  11. a b c d e f Siegfried Dornacher, Ernst Schäffer: Clamping technology in the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche Dresden. at , accessed April 3, 2019.
  12. Dome ascent to the viewing platform. In: Frauenkirche Dresden Foundation, accessed on July 4, 2019 .
  13. ↑ Types of sandstone. Retrieved August 16, 2019 .
  14. ^ A b c Eckart Schulz, Peter-Andreas von Wolffersdorff: Foundation-technical aspects in the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche. (Special print). In: Bautechnik - magazine for the entire civil engineering. 82nd volume, issue 11, November 2005, pp. 764-770, ISSN  0932-8351 .
  15. a b Fritz Wenzel, Wolfram Jäger: design, power flow, material - then and now . In: Fritz Wenzel (Ed.): Reports on the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche in Dresden: Construction of the stone structure and integration of the ruin . Universitätsverlag, Karlsruhe 2007, ISBN 978-3-86644-090-6 , p. 29 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  16. Annette Galinski: Learning from building history, interview with Wolfram Jäger from April 28, 2013. In: Springer Professional. Springer Fachmedien, Wiesbaden, April 28, 2013 ( online , accessed March 29, 2019).
  17. Fritz Wenzel, Wolfram Jäger: Design, power flow, material - then and now . In: Fritz Wenzel (Ed.): Reports on the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche in Dresden: Construction of the stone structure and integration of the ruin . Universitätsverlag, Karlsruhe 2007, ISBN 978-3-86644-090-6 , p. 59 ( limited preview in Google book search; PDF download at ).
  18. a b story. (No longer available online.) In: Christian Angermann, archived from the original on April 7, 2019 ; accessed on April 7, 2019 .
  19. ^ Dietrich Lohse: Oskar Menzel, a Dresden architect in Radebeul. Part 1. In: Preview & Review; Monthly magazine for Radebeul and the surrounding area. Radebeuler monthly books e. V., April 2013, accessed April 7, 2013 .
  20. The influence of the Dresden Frauenkirche on religious life in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony. (PDF) (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on August 8, 2014 ; Retrieved on December 10, 2015 (lecture by Regional Bishop Jochen Bohl on August 27, 2009 in the Frauenkirche Dresden, Chapter 1.2).
  21. ^ Hermann Weinert: Report on the total destruction of the Dresden Cathedral. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on August 4, 2014 ; Retrieved September 25, 2014 .
  22. From the beginning to the ruin: Baroque masterpiece destroyed. (No longer available online.) In: MDR.DE. Archived from the original on March 29, 2019 ; accessed on March 29, 2019 .
  23. Wolfgang Hultsch: A life in Dresden . tredition, Dresden 2015 ( online excerpt ), accessed on March 30, 2019.
  24. Annett Ebischbach (alias Johanna), Oliver Kloss , Torsten Schenk: Call for February 13, 1982 for an illegal gathering at the Frauenkirche in Dresden.
  25. ^ Fritz Wenzel (ed.): Reports on the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche in Dresden. Universitätsverlag Karlsruhe, 2007, ISBN 978-3-86644-090-6 , p. 33.
  26. Friends of Dresden Germany e. V. Accessed May 28, 2017 .
  27. a b Chronology: The Dresden Frauenkirche and its reconstruction after 1945 ( memento from February 11, 2013 in the web archive ), news of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony
  28. Messbildstelle, Dresden: Monument survey of the Frauenkirche Dresden. Messbildstelle, Dresden, November 1, 2013, accessed on November 14, 2013 .
  29. ^ A b Fritz Wenzel (Ed.): Reports on the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche in Dresden. Universitätsverlag Karlsruhe, 2007, ISBN 978-3-86644-090-6 , pp. 88 to 93
  30. Consecration of the Frauenkirche Dresden ( memento from September 17, 2016 in the Internet Archive ), Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony
  31. ^ Fritz Wenzel (ed.): Reports on the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche in Dresden. Universitätsverlag Karlsruhe, 2007, ISBN 978-3-86644-090-6 , p. 90.
  32. ^ A b Fritz Wenzel (ed.): Reports on the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche in Dresden: construction of the stone structure and integration of the ruin . Universitätsverlag Karlsruhe, 2007, ISBN 978-3-86644-090-6 , pp. 46, 62 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  33. Steel grade S690QL1, a high-strength fine-grain structural steel
  34. ^ Fritz Wenzel (ed.): Reports on the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche in Dresden. Universitätsverlag Karlsruhe, 2007, ISBN 978-3-86644-090-6 , p. 60.
  35. ^ Fritz Wenzel (ed.): Reports on the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche in Dresden. Universitätsverlag Karlsruhe, 2007, ISBN 978-3-86644-090-6 , p. 108.
  36. Frauenkirche Dresden ,
  37. Data, facts, figures. In: Frauenkirche Dresden Foundation, accessed on July 4, 2019 .
  38. ^ Fritz Wenzel (ed.): Reports on the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche in Dresden. Universitätsverlag Karlsruhe, 2007, ISBN 978-3-86644-090-6 , p. 13.
  39. ^ Dresden, Germany (Saxony) - Frauenkirche. Organ Databank, accessed August 6, 2018 . ; Christoph Wolff , Markus Zepf: The organs of JS Bach. A manual. Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2006, ISBN 3-374-02407-6 , pp. 37–38; Frank-Harald Greß : The organs of the Frauenkirche in Dresden. Gottfried Silbermann Society, Freiberg 1994, pp. 24-25.
  40. Hans John: The musical life in the Frauenkirche and the Sophienkirche during the 19th century. In: Matthias Hermann: The Dresden church music in the 19th and 20th centuries. 1998, ISBN 3-89007-331-X , pp. 23-38, especially p. 26.
  41. Report of the Royal. Conservatory for Music in Dresden. School year 1879/80, p. 4. (digitized SLUB Dresden)
  42. Disposition at the University of Québec.
  43. ^ Frank-Harald Greß: The organs of the Frauenkirche in Dresden. Gottfried Silbermann Society, Freiberg 1994, p. 42.
  44. Mid-tone disturbance . In: Die Zeit , No. 15/2002.
  45. ^ Frank-Harald Greß: The Silbermann organ of the Dresden Frauenkirche - original and reconstruction. In: Die Dresdner Frauenkirche, yearbook 1999. Hermann Böhlaus successor, Weimar 1999, ISBN 3-7400-1030-4 , pp. 93–114.
  46. With tears in my eyes. In: nmz - new music newspaper | Edition: 4/03. Retrieved April 22, 2019 .
  47. The disposition of the core organ. Frauenkirche Dresden Foundation, accessed on July 4, 2019 .
  48. Thomas Mann and the Angels of Dresden (accessed August 8, 2020)
  49. Ingeborg Ruthe: Malartist in the dome. Christoph Wetzel returned its evangelists to the Frauenkirche. In: Berliner Zeitung . October 26, 2005.
  50. Christoph Wetzel: My actual academy. The "old masters" and me. In: The Dresden Frauenkirche. Yearbook on their past and present. Volume 13, 2009, pp. 164-176.
  51. Ralf Hübner: A bell rings for centuries . In: Saxon newspaper . October 27, 2018.
  52. Benno bell: Dresden (DD) bells of the Frauenkirche. In: YouTube. Retrieved April 8, 2020 .
  53. a b Rainer Thümmel : The new bells and the tower clock of the Frauenkirche in Dresden . In: Society for the Promotion of the Reconstruction of the Frauenkirche Dresden e. V. (Ed.): The Dresden Frauenkirche. Yearbook on its history and its archaeological reconstruction (special edition) . tape 10 . Hermann Böhlaus successor, Weimar 2004, p. 113 ff .
  54. ^ Rainer Thümmel and Albert Bachert: The bells of the Frauenkirche in Dresden. P. 166–174 in: Reinhard Appel: The Dresden Frauenkirche. "Resurrected from ruins ..." Lingen, Cologne 2005, ISBN 3-938323-11-6 .
  55. Christoph Feuerstein: Description and interpretation of the new bells of the Dresden Frauenkirche . In: Konrad Bund, Rüdiger Pfeiffer-Rupp, Jörg Poettgen (Hrsg.): Yearbook for Glockenkunde . tape 15./16. . MRV Druck, Brühl 2004, p. 335-378 .
  56. ^ Gerald Dietl: Bells ringing the Frauenkirche Dresden. January 14, 2015, accessed February 28, 2018 .
  57. Landfeuerglocke: Dresden, Frauenkirche: a′-c ′ ′ - d ′ ′ - f ′ ′. Ring in Sunday. February 18, 2009, accessed February 28, 2018 .
  58. campanophile67: 957. Evangelical Lutheran Church of Our Lady Dresden (1/3) / Eglise protestante Notre-Dame Dresde (1/3). September 4, 2014, accessed February 28, 2018 .
  59. stefanjohannes: Frauenkirche Dresden. June 2, 2014, accessed March 2, 2018 .
  60. Landfeuerglocke: Dresden, Frauenkirche: Bells c ′ ′ - d ′ ′ - f ′ ′. November 13, 2015, accessed February 28, 2018 .
  61. Benno bell: Dresden (DD) Memorial ringing the anniversary of the destruction on February 13, 1945. In: YouTube. February 13, 2020, accessed April 8, 2020 .
  62. Hugo Hahn: Fighters against their will. Memories of the regional bishop of Saxony D. Hugo Hahn, from the church struggle 1933–1945. Brunnquell-Verlag, Metzingen 1969, DNB 456861866 .
  63. Sebastian Feydt will be the successor to Leipzig's superintendent and pastor at the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig in 2020 , Martin Henker [1]
  64. Spiritual life and parish office. Frauenkirche Dresden Foundation, accessed on July 4, 2019 .
  65. Christmas Vespers in front of the Frauenkirche. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on December 18, 2014 ; Retrieved February 8, 2015 .
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on December 29, 2006 .

Coordinates: 51 ° 3 ′ 6.8 ″  N , 13 ° 44 ′ 29.7 ″  E