By Richard Varr
The setting sun illuminates the domed façade of the Frauenkirche with a golden glow. The so-called Church of Our Lady is Dresden’s most famous silhouette and one of the city’s most visited landmarks.
The 18thcentury view painter Bernardo Bellotto repeatedly captured its iconic image on canvas – an image now branded on mugs, tourist books and souvenirs, and used in commercial advertising. For me, beholding the colossal Baroque church was a special moment. Upon visiting in 2002, I saw it under reconstruction amidst a pile of stubby boulders and chipped rock.
In February 1945, American and Allied air forces dropped phosphorous bombs, carpeting the city with a firestorm that destroyed the church and other historic sites. The amassed rubble sat there until rebuilding began. The Frauenkirche finally reopened in 2005 with the same Baroque glory – inside and outside – when first completed in 1743.
“The cross atop of the church was buried under the rubble for 45 years. You can imagine the surprise and the gratitude when the cross was found, deformed but not destroyed,” says Pastor Sebastian Feydt during an evening service. “The church not only reminds us of the destruction and suffering that war brings, but as a symbol of hope, it shows us that wounds heal and reconciliation is possible.”
Landmarks highlighting Dresden’s Saxon Royalty include the Zwinger Palace, Royal Palace and the Hofkirche (cathedral) – which today house museums, gardens and walkways that have made Dresden one of Europe’s culture capitals.
Others landmarks include, to name a few, the Augustus Bridge, the Semper Opera House, City Hall and the Bruhlsche Terrasse, a promenade above the Elbe River referred to as “Europe’s Balcony.”