Countries<Germany<Sachsen<Dresden< Katholische Hofkirche

Katholische Hofkirche(Dresden)

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The cathedral of the Diocese of Dresden-Meißen, or as it was also known in the past – Court Church of the Most Holy Trinity (Sanctissimae Trinitatis), is one of the largest churches in Saxony. She is shaping Dresden’s silhouette, formative. Furthermore, it is one of the largest main buildings of the Dresden Baroque, although it is the only large royal building that was not planned by architects from the ‘Dresden Oberbauamt’. The cathedral was built in the Roman late baroque style, which, however, no longer fits architecturally into the way it was created because, when the construction began in 1739, the Baroque era was already fading away. What is still surprising at first is that the ‘Hofkirche’ is catholic. This is unusual because when it was built, Saxony was almost entirely Protestant and catholics were only tolerated. They had to hold their services in secret, which of course led to sectarian tensions.
The history of the ‘Hofkirche’ is more diverse than that of comparable cathedrals. When the last Catholic duke died in 1539, Saxony had been ‘purely Catholic’ ever since. Only in the 17th century Catholics did return to Saxony (musicians, traders, singers, craftsmen, and soldiers). However, since they did not have the opportunity to worship, bloody clashes erupted again and again.
When 1964 the Elector Johann Georg IV died from an illness contracted in the bed of his mistress, his younger brother, Friedrich August (later known as August the Strong), succeeded him. ‘August der Starke’ converted to Catholicism in 1697 in order to acquire the Polish royal crown. The outcry in Protestant Saxony was inevitable after the announcement. His son Friedrich August II and his wife were also Catholics by conviction, and in 1739 they carried out the construction of the ‘Hofkirche’, which was to be even larger and more magnificent than any other cathedrals. Overall, it was about three times as expensive as the Evangelical ‘Frauenkirche’. Here too, there were disagreements, since the 1.041.000 thalers had to be paid by Protestant taxpayers.
Friedrich August II found only reluctant master builders for his project, since the Saxon architects already considered the baroque Roman building style to be unfashionable. That’s why he collaborated with the Italian architect Gaetano Chiaveri, who, together with his craftsmen, began the work in the strictest secrecy. The craftsmen lived not far from the construction site, in the ‘Italian village’ that is now used as a restaurant.
The laying of the Foundation stone as well as the subsequent consecration took place early in the morning, in complete silence, and also during the construction phase there were frequent sabotages. For example, tools that had been left behind regularly disappeared and the next day turned up again at junk shops, and there were numerous inexplicable construction accidents.
The architect Gaetano Chiaveri himself left the city before the construction was completed. However, today there are only guesses about the exact reason. It is assumed that he returned to Italy prematurely due to frustration, since the inhabitants of Dresden and the building authorities at the time did not accept his building and the architectural style, which led to a hesistant construction process. It is also believed that there were dramatic cuts in funding because the king suddenly had a new pet project: ‘Hubertusburg Palace’. Due to the cutbacks, the architect had to pay some of the bills with his own Money. All this probably meant that the Italien architect abandoned his project prematurely, and it was finally completed by local architects, albeit with major changes. For example, the organ gallery and the boxes of the royal family were designed in rococo forms and the intended painting with a ceiling painting was dispensed with.
The church was largely destroyed in the bomb attack on February 13, 1945. Only the tower was still standing. Most of the paintings from the cathedral were saved from the attack, however, the most valuable painting left in the church, ‘The Last Supper’ by Louis Silvestre, disappeared and has not been found to this day. It is suspected that it was either stolen or rescued as a ladder was found near to the frame the next day and the Picture was cut out of its frame. However, this remains a mystery to this day as it has not surfaced since. Just one year later, in 1946, the reconstruction of the ‘Hofkirche’ began, which can still be seen today in the different stone colours of the nave.

Image of Katholische Hofkirche