Bamberg Cathedral

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Bamberg Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of St Peter and St George
Bamberger Dom
Bamberg Cathedral
49°53′27″N 10°52′57″E / 49.89083°N 10.88250°E / 49.89083; 10.88250
Location Bamberg
Country Germany
Denomination Roman Catholic
Website Website of the Cathedral
Founded 1002
Founder(s) Henry II
Consecrated 6 May 1012
Status Active
Functional status Metropolitan Cathedral, Minor Basilica
Style Romanesque
Completed 1012
Length 94 metres
Width 28 metres
Height 26 metres
Number of spires 4
Spire height 81 metres
Archdiocese Archdiocese of Bamberg
Archbishop Ludwig Schick
Plan of the cathedral.
Bamberg Cathedral.

The Bamberg Cathedral (German: Bamberger Dom, official name Bamberger Dom St. Peter und St. Georg) is a church in Bamberg, Germany, completed in the 13th century. The cathedral is under the administration of the Roman Catholic Church and is the seat of the Archbishop of Bamberg.

The cathedral is a late Romanesque building with four imposing towers. It was founded in 1002 by the emperor Henry II, finished in 1012 and consecrated on May 6, 1012. It was later partially destroyed by fire in 1081. The new cathedral, built by St. Otto of Bamberg, was consecrated in 1111, and in the 13th century received its present late-Romanesque form.

The cathedral is about 94 m long, 28 m broad, 26 m high, and the four towers are each about 81 m high. Of its many works of art may be mentioned the magnificent marble tomb of the founder and his wife, the empress Cunigunde, considered the masterpiece of the sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider, and carved between 1499 and 1513.

Another treasure of the cathedral is an equestrian statue known as the Bamberg Horseman (German: Der Bamberger Reiter). This statue, possibly depicting the Hungarian king Stephen I, most likely dates to the period from 1225 to 1237.


In 1004, the construction of the church was commissioned by King Henry II. of Germany. In the same year he laid the foundation stone. In 1007 Bamberg was elevated to a bishopric, only now turning the yet to be finished church into a cathedral. That circumstance may explain why - compared other "imperial" cathedrals, notably the "three by the Rhine" (Mainz, Worms, Speyer)- this one had quite modest dimensions and inititally "only" two towers. The building was erected on a hill upon the foundations of the former Babenburg that gives the town its name. The King had inherited the ruin from his late father. Construction was overseen by his confidant Eberhard von Abenberg. This man also became the first bishop. Bamberg cathedral was consecrated in 1012. In 1014, together with his wife Cunigunde of Luxembourg, Henry was finally crowned emperor in Rome.

During the next two centuries it was burnt down twice. The building we now see is a late Romanesque building with four big towers. It has a quire at both ends. The east chancel is dedicated to St. George. This symbolizes the Holy Roman Empire. The west chancel is dedicated to St. Peter symbolizing the Pope.

Bamberg Cathedral: the nave

Due to its long construction process, several styles were used in different parts of the cathedral, particularly the Romanesque and Gothic ones. Between these two styles is the Transitional style, and this is the style which is characteristic of the nave.


Caster, Gussort
Strike tone
1 Apostel 1886 Friedrich Hamm, Frankenthal 1655 ≈2430 h0 +5 South-East, lower
2 Kunigunde ca. 1185 unknown 1589/1590/1596 ≈3450 c1 +13 North-East, upper
3 Heinrich 13.8.1311 unknown 1799 ≈5200 cis1 +9 North-East, lower
4 Maria 1735 Johann Ignatius Höhn, Bamberg 1335 ≈1500 dis1 +5 South-East, upper
5 Georg 1972 Rudolf Perner, Passau 1090 780 fis1 +10+ South-East, upper
6 Peter 1972 Rudolf Perner, Passau 985 556 gis1 +7 South-East, upper
7 Otto 1972 Rudolf Perner, Passau 822 310 h1 +11− South-East, upper
8 Michael 1972 Rudolf Perner, Passau 653 170 dis2 +9,5 South-East, upper
9 Armeseelen ca. 1200 unknown 837/844 570 fis2 −1 South-East, upper
10 Messe ca. 1300 unknown 591 ≈200 gis2 –7 South-East, upper
Year of Cast
Strike tone
Zapfendorfer oder Laudes ca. 1200 unknown (vgl. Armeseelenglocke) 745 ≈400 gis2 −5
These two towers show the difference between the two styles of architecture very clearly: the Romanesque on the left and the Gothic on the right.

Sculptures and carvings[edit]

Cunigunde and Heinrich II carved in the entrance porch
Emperor Henry II and Empress Cunigunde tomb by Tilman Riemenschneider

The cathedral is about 94 m long, 28 m broad, 26 m high, and the four towers are each about 81 m high. There are many sculptures in the cathedral.

One of the most magnificent ones is the marble tomb of Emperor Henry II, the founder of the cathedral, and his wife, Empress Cunigunde. It took the famous sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider 14 years to carve: between 1499 and 1513. The tomb is slightly higher than floor level because below there is a crypt. The carvings round the side tell of various episodes in the lives of the imperial couple.

Under the name Henry IV., the aristocrat was Duke of Bavaria. He descended in third generation from the bavarian side line of the imperial family, the Saxon, "Ottonian" line of the Luidolfinger clan, with whom his father Henry II, Duke of Bavaria, "the Wrangler", and in subsequence he himself, were in enmity. Yet, in 1002 Henry not only managed to secure himself the crown of the east-franconian kingdom ("regnum francorum orientalium", while "Germany" was a quite unknown expression yet) in something close to a coup d'état, but in 1014 also became emperor - the last from that dynasty. St. Henry was canonised in 1146 under Pope Eugene III, St. Cunigunde in 1200 under Pope Innocenct III.

There is a Nativity altar in the south transept made of limewood by the famous artist Veit Stoss. He made it when he was about 80 years old. His son, who was a Carmelite prior in the nearby city of Nürnberg, asked him to build it. Unfortunately he was expelled from Nuremberg because he was against the Protestants, representing the overwhelming majority of the polpulation in town at the time of the Reformation. This meant that his father was never paid for his beautiful work, which was soon moved to Bamberg.

The Bamberger Reiter[edit]

The Bamberger Reiter

Another treasure of the cathedral is an equestrian statue called the Bamberg Horseman (Bamberger Reiter). People have tried to guess for years who this knight on horseback really was. During the cathedral’s history people have often made up stories about who he was. The Romantics thought he was a German emperor from the Hohenstaufen family. The Nazis thought he was a knight who symbolized German perfection, looking towards the east for new lands to conquer. This was Nazi propaganda. The knight on the statue does not, in fact, look east at all. It is now thought that he was probably the 11th century Hungarian king Stephen I. Modern technology has made it possible for us to know what the original colours were, and this has helped scientists to identify him. The sculptor carved only his mask into the sculpture, leaving his identity a mystery.

Papal grave[edit]

The grave of Pope Clement II

Pope Clement II (1005–47) is buried in the Bamberg Cathedral. He was the local bishop before he became Pope in 1046, but he died in 1047 after having been pope for only twelve months. Bamberg Cathedral is the site of the only papal burial outside of Italy and France.

The organ[edit]

The organ of Bamberg Cathedral

The cathedral first had an organ in 1415. The one that was built in 1868 gave many problems and had to be rebuilt five years later, but it was kept until 1940 because it made a nice sound. The organ that is present in the cathedral today was built in 1976 by the organ builder Rieger. There are four angel figures in the corners of the organ case. The organ has four manuals and pedalboard. All the organs during the cathedral’s history were built against the north wall because the sound was best there.

Every year about 40 concerts are given in the cathedral.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°53′27″N 10°52′57″E / 49.89083°N 10.88250°E / 49.89083; 10.88250