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Old 10th August 2009   #1
kirsten
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Default Frauenkirche in Dresden

A previous post in the forum detailed the restoration of the Frauenkirche, a beautiful Baroque church in Dresden, Germany. I recently came across a video on YouTube that shows the interior of the church to be just as beautiful and inspiring as the exterior:


Last edited by HSG : 11th December 2011 at 19:46. Reason: Link edited
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Old 28th December 2009   #2
HSG
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Default Re: Frauenkirche in Dresden


Thank you for discovering such a lovely video.

We have shared our thoughts on the significance of the Frauenkirche restoration before, both in the post to which Kirsten linked, and in our first essay on the subject.

However, this summer, during our three-week tour of Germany, we were privileged to stop into Dresden for the second time in our lives, and to see the completed Frauenkirche with our own eyes.

The following (very amateurish) photographs were taken by yours truly.

As you can see, although the Frauenkirche itself is complete, construction still progresses in the vicinity of the church. Dresden is determined to restore its entire Altstadt (Old City) to its prewar look. If only all German cities could undertake such a heroic task. As this picture indicates, the mighty "bell" of the cupola towers over every other structure in the Altstadt.

The lower level of the church contains a small museum featuring photographs of the devastation of the Allied bombing raid. The two Frauenkirche fragments that survived the firestorm are visible in the centre of the following photo, along with the rubble mound at their base, which comprised the majority of the church's collapsed superstructure.

This picture shows how the foreground fragment was integrated into the new building.

Even after five years, the contrast between the old masonry and the new is clearly visible.

This image from the early 1990s shows the initial excavations of the rubble mound--part of an effort to extract whatever stones could be salvaged and re-inserted into their pre-war positions. The crane is dwarfed by the mountain of rubble, as it is by the fragment in the background, which housed the main altar.

Here we see how the altar wing was incorporated into the rebuild. The scale of this towering fragment, as shown in the previous picture, gives a sense of the monumentality the completed church, which soars twice again as high above it.

Standing at the foot of the building and looking upward, one sees how the new and the old sections have been knit together, joined like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

In some places, the newer portions have been deliberately recessed several centimetres, so that even when the new stone (which was quarried from the same sources as the old) darkens to the same hue as the Baroque masonry, viewers will still be able to subtly distinguish the original building from its successor.

A close-up zoom shows the integration of the past and the present in greater detail.

The union of the new building with the old is even visible in the church crypt. Here again, the contrast between the darkened stone to the right, and the newer stone to the left, is evident. Notice how the fresh stones that are laid next to the old were hand-carved into unique shapes in order to synthesize the irregular, weathered foundations with the carefully aligned new brickwork.

Kirsten's video is particularly welcome because photography is not permitted in the interior, as the Frauenkirche is not a deconsecrated relic but a functioning church where services are held regularly. However, by screening himself behind a pillar, the author was able to take at least one snapshot of the glorious main altar. The gleaming white marble of the reconstructed segments contrasts with the grey portions of the original, which survived both the Allied firebombing and a half century of Communist neglect.

This photograph, looking directly upwards, shows the interior of the magnificent cupola. The sound of the bells tolling in the Frauenkirche, and echoing in this mighty dome, inspired Wagner to compose his final opera, Parsifal.

The symbolism of these images of the past uniting with the present is unmistakble, and in tune with the themes of this site. The Frauenkirche offers a shining example of the seamless union of tradition with contemporary life, a resurrection of historical beauty after an all-out assault by the corrosive forces of modernism, followed by decades of suppression.

Our culture can similarly resurrect the glorious beauty ideals of the past and integrate them into the present. All it takes is the will and the vision to make it happen.

- Frauenkirche, Dresden

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