The Church which burned down 5 times

February 8, 2012 § 2 Comments

Aerial view of the Church of the Cross, Dresden.

On my way to the Altmarkt (the Old Market), I noticed a church with quite a bit of people holding a camera walking in and out. It’s very likely to be a tourist attraction. When I travel, I usually have plans to visit some religious sites. However I also love to walk into churches that I stumbled upon. Every one of them are decorated differently according to the local culture. Therefore, it’s a place to feel and soak in their history and culture. The Church of the Cross [Kreuzkirche] was the first Church I visited in Germany. This unexpected visit was surprisingly nice. 

There were no fresco or sculptures. Only a painting against the raw walls. Dresden. Dec 19, 2011.Dec 19

Inside the Church of the Cross, I noticed something very special. I’ve see churches with a minimalistic decor before, but this one really looked very unfinished. Curious. I walked into the little exhibition room on the side. There were lots of of pictures and drawing showing how different the decoration used to be… and there were than just one version. Here’s a recap:

1215: Built in Romanesque basilica style
1491: Basilica destroyed by a fire, then rebuilt as a Gothic hall church
1584: Tower built in Renaissance style
1689: A fire destroyed the tower then rebuilt.
1760: Bombed and destroyed by the Prussian in the Seven Years War
1792: Rebuilt in Baroque style (Today’s exterior design is from this period)
1897: Fire destroyed the nave
1900: Nave rebuilt in Art Nouveau style
1945: Bombed and completely burned out during the World War II
1955: Reopened to public after temporary repair

"View of Dresden, Ruins of the Cross Church" -painted by Giovanni Antonio Canal

This church had been, unfortunately, destroyed by fire and bombs by a whopping 5 times (marked in red). Apparently, this church is very important to the local. Otherwise I guess they wouldn’t be so insisting on rebuilding it so many times. So throughout the years, as the city rebuilt the church, they changed the architecture and decoration style as well. It used to be very decorative with lots of intricate details and carving. At the end, they settled for displaying the church in a minimalism, a very raw appeal. I guess there might be 3 reasons for having such a minimal decor style inside:

1. Keep the church in its post World War II temporary repair state as a reminder of the painful history.

2. Save the money: just in case it catches on fire again and get everything destroyed.

3. Those destructions were a God’s sign that this church is meant to be unfinished.

Whatever the reason is, it is definitely a different experience to visit a this church with so much history and story behind.

It's a really rare sight to see a church with an "unfinished" look.

You won't see lavish ceiling fresco, instead, just a pure white cross carved up there.

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