St. Mary's Cathedral, Hildesheim

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UNESCO World Heritage Site
St. Mary's Cathedral and St. Michael's Church at Hildesheim
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Hildesheim Cathedral, view from the northwest
Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii, iii
Reference 187
UNESCO region Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1985 (9th Session)

St. Mary's Cathedral (German: Dom St. Maria) is a medieval Catholic cathedral in Hildesheim, Germany, that has been on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list since 1985.

The cathedral church was built between 1010 and 1020 in Romanesque style. It follows a symmetrical plan with two apses, that is characteristic of Ottonian Romanesque architecture in Old Saxony. After renovations and extensions in the 11th, 12th and 14th centuries, the cathedral was completely destroyed during an air raid on 22 March 1945, and rebuilt from 1950 to 1960.

The cathedral houses numerous works of art. These include:

  • The bronze doors, commissioned by Bishop Bernward (1015), with reliefs from the history of Adam and of Jesus Christ.
  • A bronze column 15 feet high (dating from 1020), adorned with reliefs from the life of Christ.
  • Two large wheel-shaped chandelier of the 11th century.
  • The sarcophagus of St Godehard.
  • St. Epiphanius’ Shrine (12th century).
  • A Baptismal Font, dating from 1225.

In the middle of the cathedral's courtyard stands the Gothic Anne's chapel (Annenkapelle), erected in 1321, which remained nearly undamaged during World War II. Also, climbing the wall of the cathedral's apse is the legendary 1000-year-old rosebush, which symbolizes the prosperity of the city of Hildesheim. According to the legend, as long as the bush flourishes, Hildesheim will not decline. In 1945 allied bombers destroyed the cathedral, yet the bush survived. Its roots remained unscathed beneath the rubble, and soon the bush was growing strong again.

The Cathedral Museum owns one of the most extensive collections of medieval treasures in Europe.

In 2010, a renovation was started which will be finished in 2014. In May 2011, the foundation of the first cathedral building dating from 815 was found under the floor of the crypt.[1] The first cathedral building was a small church measuring 6 x 6 m with an apse in the east. The remains of the first altar were found in the apse. A grave was discovered under the foundation, possibly the first bishop of Hildesheim was buried here. The foundation of the first cathedral building consists of sandstone and it is extraordinarily thick.

Many religious items from the Cathedral are on view until January 5, 2014 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, USA.


  1. ^ Kehrwieder am Sonntag: Fund im Dom belegt - Hildesheim feiert zu Recht den 1200. Geburtstag. 29 May 2011, p. 6 (in German).

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Coordinates: 52°08′56″N 9°56′50″E / 52.14889°N 9.94722°E / 52.14889; 9.94722