SEMPER OPERA HOUSE    .    Dresden, Germany . 8" x 11" x 5" tall


Dresden's former Royal Court Theatre has had a turbulent history.  The first Opera House at this location was built 1838-41 by the German architect Gottfried Semper and became famous as one of the most beautiful theatres in Europe.  It burned in 1869 and was reconstructed in 1871-78 in High Renaissance style - again by Gottfried Semper.  In 1945, at the end of WW2, the city of Dresden was destroyed by bombs - along with the Opera House.  Finally, in 1977-85, the theatre was lovingly reconstructed on the gorgeous Theaterplatz of Dresden's Old Town.

Gottfried Semper is considered one of the most significant architects of the 19th century and the Opera House in Dresden is one of the few theatres that bears the name of its architect.

Dresden was once one of the world's most beautiful "art" cities.  Today it is synonymous with one of the most devastating and controversial bombing raids of WW2 when over 80% of its grand buildings were wiped out in one night by tons of high explosives and incendiary bombs.  The war was almost over, and winding down with a sure-victory over Germany in sight. On February 13, 873 British RAF bombers dropped thousands of mammoth incendiary and high explosive bombs on Dresden.  The resulting fire, along with hurricane-force winds, consumed the city.  Then the American Air Force followed the British by sending 521 bombers to unleash another deadly load.  This raid was enough to feed the already raging firestorm for another four days.  The flames could be seen from 200 miles away.  Thousands of people were literally baked alive in the air raid shelters they thought would protect them.  When the fires finally subsided, Dresden was left completely devastated, with only a smoldering skeleton of buildings, vaguely outlining the city's once grand boulevards.  Over 50,000 people were killed.

45 years of the rebuilding process is almost complete.  The first building to be reconstructed was the famous Zwinger Art Museum and the next was the Semper Opera House.  The last and most ambitious job, is the rebuilding of the Church of Our Lady which is due for completion on Dresden's  800th birthday in 2006.