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This classic baroque church was originally built between 1726 and 1743 and has been a primary focal point for Dresden, Germany ever since. Despite the fact that the Saxony elector was a catholic, Frauenkirche ("Church of Our Lady") was built as a Lutheran cathedral. Dresden's city architect, George Bähr, was a baroque master and was known for capturing the essence of the Protestant movement by designing the altar, chancel, and baptismal font to be located within clear sight of the congregation. A famous organ-maker created a great organ for the church and Johann Sebastian Bach performed a recital on it. Given its collective history, it's no wonder why so many tourists flock to Frauenkirche Dresden each year. The walking tour Dresden is quite popular and seeing the magnificent church both from afar and up close allows for a thorough insight into just how incredible a structure it is.
The single most mesmerizing feature of the Frauenkirche Dresden, and perhaps in the entire city, is the dome. Made of sandstone and weighing upward of 12,000 tons, this 314 foot tall dome is referred to as die Steineme Glocke ("Stone Bell"). Amazingly, there are no internal supports and despite initial, and perhaps well-founded, doubts the dome proved to be quite stable. This accomplishment is often compared to Michelangelo's dome at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The Stone Bell is so solid that some witnesses claim that over a hundred cannonballs struck it during the Seven Years War without damaging it.
Yet Frauenkirche Dresden met its end on February 13th, 1945 when the Allied bombing of Dresden began. The church held up for two days and two nights of the 650,000 incendiery bombs dropped upon the German city. However, after the temperatures in and around the church reached 1,000 degrees Celsius, the supports collapsed and Frauenkirche fell into ruin. Some pieces of the church were not destroyed by rubble—the altar and the chancel still stood. In addition, the altar was only partly damaged by fire. Yet the fire-scorched stones would lie in a heap in the center of Dresden for the next 45 years due to Communist rule overtaking that area of Germany.
But after German reunification in 1989, the efforts to rebuild Dresden Frauenkirche began in earnest. It began with a citizens' initiative but quickly grew into a group that was privately funded and campaigned hard for the requisite funds to rebuild the great baroque church and give Dresden, Germany part of its history. The project picked up speed and soon other groups began to form, including both American and British organizations.
The rebuilding process of Dresden Frauenkirche cost an estimated $217 million. Architects, engineers, and historians specializing in art worked to reuse some of the original building. However, pieces of stone were often sold to raise money for the reconstruction. The goal was to not only recapture an essential part of Dresden's past, but to also draw more tourists to this exquisite feat of architecture. Even before the reconstruction began, a walking tour Dresden was quite popular.
The original blueprints for Dresden Frauenkirche were used and the foundation was first laid in 1994. The head architect, Eberhard Burger, used the original materials of the church as much as possible—all save the dome. About 3,800 original stones were used in the rebuilding process. Advancements in technology sped along the progress and construction finished in 2005, ahead of schedule and easily in time for Dresden's 800th anniversary in 2006. The sprawling building makes for an excellent walking tour Dresden. Fully restored, Frauenkirche is an absolute must-see for any tourist visiting Dresden.
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