St. Michael's Church, 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
Michaeliskirche: View from southeast.
Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii, iii
Reference 187
UNESCO region Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1985 (9th Session)

The Church of St. Michael (German: Michaeliskirche) is an early-Romanesque Lutheranchurch in Hildesheim, Germany. It has been on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list since 1985.

History[edit]

Bishop Bernward of Hildesheim (996-1022) built a Benedictine monastery from the ground up on a hill linked with the archangel Michael just a half kilometer north of the city walls of his seat (Hildesheim), a monastery that featured an imposing church some 70 meters in length overall. Bernward set the first stone for the new church in 1010 and dedicated the still unfinished building to Michael on the archangel's feast day, 29 September 1022, just a few weeks before his death. Construction, however, continued under his successor, Bishop Godehard (died 1038), who completed the work in 1031 and reconsecrated the church to Michael on September 29th of that year. The church has double choirs east and west, double tripartite transepts at either end of the nave, and six towers----two large ones over the crossings east and west, and four other tall and narrow ones attached to the small sides of the two transepts. The eastern choir featured three apses, and the west had a deep chapel with a huge single apse rising high over an elaborate cross-vaulted hall crypt with an ambulatory. Bishop Bernward's remains were placed in the western crypt.

The monastery comprised a church family and had two other sanctuaries dedicated to Martin and the Holy Cross lying in the cloister that extended northward from St. Michael's north flank. The monastery and church opened southward toward the city of Hildesheim, its south flank comprising a "facade" of a sort. It seems likely that the monastery on the Hill of St. Michael was surrounded by a wall.[1]

In 1186, after a reconstruction following a fire, Hildesheim's Bishop Adelog of Dorstedt - assisted by Tammo, Prince-Bishop of Verden - reconsecrated St. Michael's.

When the people of Hildesheim became Protestant in 1542, St. Michael's became Lutheran, but the Benedictine monastery operated here until it was secularized in 1803. Monks continued to use the church, especially its western choir and crypt, down to that moment.

St. Michael's Church was destroyed in an air raid during World War II on 22 March 1945, but reconstruction was begun in 1950 and completed in 1957. In 1985, the church became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, along with the Cathedral of Hildesheim, its collection of medieval treasures and its 1000-year old rosebush.

Architecture[edit]

St. Michael's Church is one of the most important churches of Ottonian times Ottonic (Early-Romanesque) style. It is a double-choir basilica with two transepts and a square tower at each crossing. The west choir is emphasized by an ambulatory and a crypt. The ground plan of the building follows a geometrical conception, in which the square of the transept crossing in the ground plan constitutes the key measuring unit for the entire church. The square units are defined by the alternation of columns and piers.

The famous bronze doors of Bishop Bernward seem likely to have decorated the larger entryway on St. Michael's south aisle flank, that is, the entryway near the western transept. (A smaller entryway could be found in the same south aisle flank toward the eastern transept)

The painted wooden ceiling in the nave (around 1230) shows the genealogy of Christ.

The Michaeliskirche from inside

Measurements[edit]

  • Total length: 74.75m
  • Total length of the transepts: 40.01m
  • Total width of the transepts: 11.38m
  • Length of the crypt: 18.36m
  • Length of the nave: 27.34m
  • Width of the nave incl. lower aisles: 22.75m
  • Width of the nave without lower aisles: 8.60m
  • Height of the nave without lower aisles: 16.70m
  • Thickness of the walls: 1.63m

Location[edit]

St. Michael's Church is situated at the Western rim of the city centre of Hildesheim, on the so-called Michaelishügel ("St. Michael's Hill"). The main entrance to the Church is at the south side. Magdalenengarten, a baroque park, is very close to the church in the west.The cloister is also accessible from there. It leads to the Church's contemporary (administrative) buildings. In the south and east of the Hill you reach Hildesheim's downtown, in the west of it there is the River Innerste and in the north the Gymnasium Andreanum school.

Burials[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gerhard Lutz and Angela Weyer, eds., __1000 Jahre St. Michael in Hildesheim__ (Hildesheim: Hornemann Institut der HAWK, 2012)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°09′10″N 9°56′37″E / 52.1529°N 9.9435°E / 52.1529; 9.9435