The History of the Dresden Frauenkirche

The Dresden Frauenkirche looks back on a long history. The various previous churches were already consecrated to Mary, Mother of God, and were named Frauenkirche. In the 18th century, the famous George Bährs domed building was built, which shaped the cityscape of Dresden for two hundred years. Destroyed shortly before the end of the Second World War, the ruins of the Frauenkirche remained as a memorial in the heart of the city until the unique reconstruction project began in 1993. Since 2005 the Frauenkirche has once again been an open church for the city.


11th Century

Missionary Church

The Dresden Frauenkirche was first mentioned in a document in the 11th century. It served the Christianization of the surrounding Sorbian villages.

In the 12th century the Frauenkirche was considered a small parish church of the city of Dresden


12th-15th Centuries

Parish Church

When the city of Dresden emerged at the end of the 12th century, the Frauenkirche became its parish church. The building was repeatedly too small and rebuilt until it was finally redesigned in the late Gothic style at the end of the 15th century.

From 1539 onwards, the Frauenkirche Dresden served purely as a funeral church.


16th/17th Centuries

Funeral Church

During the Reformation, the church served as a funeral church for 20 years before services were held here again. In 1672, the composer Heinrich Schütz was buried in the Frauenkirche. A memorial plaque on the floor of the main room is a reminder of this.

In the 18th century, new plans were drawn up for the Frauenkirche. These included the idea of a striking domed building.


18th Century

Bährs Domed Building

In 1722 the council of the city of Dresden decided to build a new building and commissioned council carpenter George Bähr. He planned a masterpiece with a distinctive dome but died before completion. His church became a landmark of Dresden.

1726

Construction Begins

Am 26. Juli erteilt August Christoph Reichsgraf von Wackerbarth die offizielle Baugenehmigung, am 26. August wurde der Grundstein der neuen Frauenkirche gelegt.

1734

Early Consecration

The unfinished church was consecrated on February 28th. There was still no organ and only a makeshift altar; the main dome was under construction. Four bells were raised on April 3rd.

1736-38

Bach's plays, Bähr dies

The large Silbermann organ was installed, shortly afterwards Johann Sebastian Bach gave a concert (1736). In the following years, structural damage to pillars and the dome occurred. Bähr died during discussions about the removal of the stone dome (1738).

1743

Completion

On May 27th, the tower cross was placed on top of the Frauenkirche, which in the end was made entirely of sandstone. A thanksgiving service on November 27 marked the end of the 17-year construction period.

1760-92

Main Church of Dresden

Due to the destruction of the Kreuzkirche during the Seven Years' War, the Frauenkirche was Dresden's main church for three decades.

The tomb of George Bähr is located in the Frauenkirche.


19th Century

Growing Importance

Repeatedly, restorations and construction work were necessary. For the last time, a burial in the catacombs took place. The remains of George Bähr were transferred. The Frauenkirche became the seat of the superintendent and later an independent parish church.

1813

Goethe visits

After the completion of »Faust«, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ascended to the viewing platform. It's his second visit.

1843

Wagner Conducts

Richard Wagner conducts the world premiere of his work »Das Liebesmahl der Apostel«, written for the Frauenkirche.

At the end of the Second World War, the Frauenkirche is destroyed. In the picture you can see the ruins and remains of the church.


20th Century

Destruction and Reconstruction

First the Frauenkirche was completely renovated, then shortly before the end of the Second World War it was completely destroyed. Its ruins shaped the cityscape and the culture of remembrance for almost five decades. But then the reconstruction began.

1933-45

Opposing views

The power struggle between the German Christians and the Confessing Church was also waged within both the congregation and clergy of the Frauenkirche. The opposition superintendent Hugo Hahn was removed from office.

1945

Destruction

On February 13, the war that started in Germany returned to Dresden. The Frauenkirche survived the bombing of the city, but collapsed two days later after being burned out.

1966

Memorial

The City Council of Dresden decided to officially declare the ruins as a “memorial for the victims of the bombing war” and have a memorial plaque put up.

1982-1989

Peace Movement

Every February 13th, an independent peace movement protested at the ruins with candles against the militarization of the GDR. In 1989 Helmut Kohl expressed his vision of a reunified Germany in front of the mountain of rubble.

1990

Appeal from Dresden

On February 13, 1990, a citizens' initiative published the »Call from Dresden«. They expressed the will to dare to rebuild the Dresden Frauenkirche after 45 years and asked for donations from around the world.

1993-2000

Reconstruction Begins

After the ruins were cleared in 1993/4, the first stone was placed on May 27, 1994. In 1996 the lower church was completed; the outer walls grew up to 28 meters in height. In 2000 the new tower cross was donated.

2001-05

Construction Completed

The church continued to grow in height until 2004. When the tower hood was added on June 22, 2004, the external shape was restored. The interior work followed. The Frauenkirche was consecrated on October 30, 2005.

A pastor holds a service in front of the congregation.


21st Century

New Life

After the completion of the reconstruction, the Frauenkirche reaches 2 million guests annually with 120 services, 550 devotions, over 100 music and numerous verbal events as well as times of sightseeing.

2005

Location of a Cross of Nails

On February 13th, the Frauenkirche was accepted into the International Cross of Nails Community.

2010-18

Peace Speeches

With Martti Ahtisaari (2010), Mohamed ElBaradei (2014), Ahmet Üzümcü (2016), Frederik Willem de Klerk (2017) and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (2018), Nobel Peace Prize winners spoke in the Frauenkirche.