Saturday, November 15, 2008

Four More Hamburg Churches

Between the two of us, Joshua and I have already written about eleven important and historic churches we visited in the center of Hamburg.

There are four additional historic churches of importance in the center of the city, and we visited those churches, too.

Most prominent of them was Saint-Marien-Kirche, also known both as the Domkirche and the Mariendom. Saint-Marien-Kirche is the seat of The Bishop Of Hamburg of The Roman Catholic Diocese Of Hamburg.

The city of Hamburg did not permit Roman Catholic worship within city precincts from the time of The Reformation until 1842. One effect of The Reformation in Northern Germany was the dissolution of The Bishopric Of Hamburg and the closure of all Roman Catholic houses of worship in the city. For three centuries, Hamburg’s Catholics had to worship outside city walls. During this period, Catholicism in Hamburg was under the jurisdiction of The Bishop Of Bremen.

Once freedom of religion in Hamburg was again granted midway through the 19th Century, the Roman Catholic Church set in motion plans for a new main church in the center of the city. The result was Saint-Marien-Kirche, the first Roman Catholic place of worship to be built in Hamburg in more than five centuries.

The Neo-Romanesque church was completed in 1893. The building is marked by two great spires, with a front façade that mimics the façade of The Cathedral Of Bremen, the church that held authority over Catholicism in Hamburg at the time Saint-Marien-Kirche was planned and erected.

The Roman Catholic Diocese Of Hamburg was re-established in 1995, and in that year Saint-Marien-Kirche was designated as a Cathedral Church, seat of The Bishop Of Hamburg, Silesia-Holstein And Mecklenburg. As a result, the church may now be referred to as the Domkirche or the Mariendom.

The interior is Neo-Byzantine, entirely reminiscent of the contemporaneous Neo-Byzantine Westminster Cathedral in London.

Within the last decade, the church has been entirely refurbished, and looks brand-new inside and out.

The nearby Dreieinigkeitkirche (“Holy Trinity Church”) was constructed in the Baroque style from 1743 to 1747. It occupies a site on which used to be located The Chapel Of Saint George’s Hospital, upgraded to a parish church in 1627. It is from that ancient hospital that this particular neighborhood of Hamburg, one of the city’s most fashionable, acquired its name: Saint George.

Only the 65-meter church spire survived the damage caused by World War II. The remainder of the church was rebuilt pursuant to a new design and erected between 1954 and 1957.

Not far from Hamburg’s Laeiszhalle is Gnadenkirch (“Church Of Mercy”), a beautiful Neo-Romanesque ecclesiastical structure set in the middle of a network of road junctions, designed to be admired on all sides and from all approaches.

A church of remarkable beauty and architectural distinction, the Gnadenkirche was erected in 1906 and 1907. The church features a high central steeple, topped by a diamond-shaped roof, which is surrounded by smaller steeples. The building is a splendid example of Reform Architecture, a school of design that dominated Protestant religious architecture around the year 1900.

The interior of the church was designed in a manner similar to a theater—everything is focused on the altar and the pulpit.

In 2004, The Lutheran Diocese Of Hamburg turned the church over to The Russian Orthodox Church. The Lutheran church no longer had a sizeable congregation in the immediate area—after World War I, this area of Hamburg saw commercial and government properties replace residential properties—and did not want to continue to spend significant sums of money maintaining the great church structure.

Not wanting to abandon or demolish such a prominent and beautiful building, The Lutheran Diocese gave the building to Hamburg’s large Russian émigré community (there are 12,000 recent Russian immigrants in Central Hamburg alone).

Saint-Joseph-Kirche is a Roman Catholic Church situated smack in the middle of the red-light district of Hamburg.

The church looks out of place. Any church would look out of place in a red-light district, but a heavily-decorated Roman Catholic Church especially looks out of place in Protestant Hamburg.

The church was built on land outside the city’s old boundaries, where there was freedom of worship. The ground on which the church is situated was for centuries administered by the Danish crown, and Denmark long granted the privilege of free worship in Hamburg’s outlying districts. In fact, the Danish crown specifically granted this particular parcel of land to the Roman Catholic Church in order to build the church.

The facade of the brick building is decorated with Baroque sandstone ornaments and a portal with the figures of Joseph and Jesus Christ. On top of the gable there is a cross with angels on either side.

The church was designed by Melchior Tatz, a noted Austrian ecclesiastical architect, and constructed between 1718 and 1723.

During World War II, the church was heavily damaged. Only the front façade remained standing. Between 1953 and 1955, the church was rebuilt in the Baroque style, although only the street façade remained faithful to the actual original design. Everything else, including the interior, is entirely new, although consistent with Baroque style.

Today the church serves Hamburg’s Polish community.

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