Visiting historic churches in Germany

Germany is a beautiful country, drawing vacationers to see the spectacular scenery along the famous Rhine and Moselle Rivers, the magnificent Alps mountain range, castles and towns with history that goes back several hundred years. The Rhine and Moselle Rivers are famous for the beauty as they flow through the country, and for the grapes used to make the famous German wines. Germany is also famous for the beer that has been produced for centuries, often hand-crafted in the German monasteries.

Germany has significant religious history. The region had observed the pagan practices until the era of Emperor Charlemagne in around 900 AD. Charlemagne had a close association with the Holy Roman Catholic Church, and instigated bring Christianity to the Germanic tribes. The country was predominately Catholic, until the winds of change blew in, with dynamic Protestant Reformer Martin Luther leading the reformation.

Germany has an exciting religious history. Visitors and travelers pilgrimage to Germany to stand in awe at the very places where religious history was made.

The United Nations, UNESCO, has developed and maintained a list of significant places in the world, known as the World Heritage List, which is selected by a committee. Of the 851 world wide properties selected for their outstanding universal value, 31 are located in Germany. Of the 31 German properties on the UNESCO World Heritage List, 11 are churches or monasteries.

Travelers to Germany can appreciate the immensity of Germany’s religious history when they include these significant religious sites on their itinerary.

Aachen Cathedral, State of North Rhine-Westphalia: Palatine chapel was started in 790 – 800 AD. The construction was started in the reign of the great Emperor Charlemagne. Originally the chapel was inspired by the great churches of the Eastern part of the Holy Roman Empire. The chapel was enlarged in the Middle Ages

Aachen cathedral, Imperial Cathedral Kaiserdom

Aachen cathedral, Imperial Cathedral Kaiserdom

Speyer Cathedral, State of Rhineland-Palatinate: The cathedral is a basilica with four towers and two domes. Speyer Cathedral was founded by Conrad II in 1030 AD. The church was remodeled at the end of the 11th century. Speyer Cathedral dates back to the time of the Holy Roman Empire and is one of the most important Romanesque monuments fro that era. The cathedral served as the burial place for German Emperors for nearly 30 years.

Pilgrimage Church of Wies, Upper Bavaria, State of Bavaria: The Church of Wies is located in a beautiful Alpine setting. The church, built in 1745-1754, was a masterpiece of Bavarian Rococo by architect Dominikus Zimmermann.

St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Michel’s Church at Hildesheim, District of Hanover, State of Lower Saxony. The symmetrically built church dates back to 1010 to 1020. The interior of the church features a wooden ceiling and painted stucco work. Exceptionally interesting are the famous bronze doors and the Berwrd bronze column. The Church is an outstanding example of the Romanesque churches of the Holy Roman Empire.

Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier, State of Rhineland Palatinate: Trier is a town that stands on the Moselle River. Tier was a Roman colony fro the 1st century AD. During the following century, Trier became and great trading center. By the end of the 3rd century, Tier became known as the ‘second Rome’’. There are a number of excellent quality surviving monuments from the Roman civilization.

Trier Cathedral

Trier Cathedral

Abbey and Altenmunster of Lorsch, District of Bergstrasse, State of Hesse: The Abbey has a monumental entrance, called the”Torhall”. The Abbey and Torhall are rare vestiges of the Carolingian era. There are sculptures and paintings from the Carolingian period that are in remarkable condition.

Maulbronn Monastery Complex, District of Enz, State of Baden-Wurttemburg: The Cisercian Maulbronn Monastery was founded in 1147. The monastery is considered the most complete, as well as the best preserved, medieval monastic complex located north of the Alps mountain range. The monastery is surrounded by protective fortified walls. The main buildings of the complex were built between the 12th and 16th centuries. The church is mainly Transitional Gothic. It was major influence in the spread of Gothic architecture in much of central and northern Europe. Exceptionally interesting are the elaborate network of drains, canals and reservoirs.

Collegiate Church, Castle, and Old Town of Quedlinburg: During the time of Saxonian-Ottonian Empire, Quesdlinburg was the capital of the east Franconian German Empire. The town has been a prosperous trading town since the Middle Ages. There are a number of high quality timber framed buildings that make Quedlinburg an outstanding example of a European Town in Medieval times. The collegiate Church is a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture.

Cologne Cathedral, State of North Rhine-Westphalia: The immense cologne Cathedral is perhaps the best known of the German historic Churches. Construction on this Gothic masterpiece started in 1248 and was not completed until 1880. The cathedral was built over seven successive centuries, often with sons taking over where their father’s left off. The exceptional cathedral is a testament to the endurance and strength of Christianity in Europe. The UNESCO committee chose the cathedral for its value as an exceptional work of creative human genius.

Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral

Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg, State of Saxony-Anhalt, State of Thuringia: The places are associated with he lives of Great reformers Martin Luther and his fellow reformer Melanchthon. Luther is the name credited with the Protestant religious reformations in the 1500’s. Events of the time conspired to make the printed Word of God, in the Bible available to the common man, something that had not been possible before. The invention of the Gutenberg printing press, along with Martin Luther’s translation of the Holy Bible fro Greek to German, changed the face of the Christina religion forever. This group includes: Melanchthon’s house in Wittenburg, the house in Eisleben where Luther was Born in 1483, the house where Luther died in 1546, Luther’s room in Wittenberg, the local church and the castle church which is famous as having the door where Luther posted his famous “95 Theses”. The “95 Theses” launched the Protestant Reformation and changed the course of history.

Monastic Island of Reichenau, District of Freiburg, State of Baden Wurttemberg.: Lake Constance, on the southern border of Germany, is the location of the Island of Reichenau. There are still traces of the Benedictine monastery, which was founded in 724. Churches built between the 9th and 11th centuries are St. Mary and Marcus, St. Peter and St. Paul and St. George. This group on monastic architecture paints a panorama of early medieval monastic architecture in central Europe. The remnants of the Reichenau foundation were chosen as an outstanding witness to the role of the Benedictine monastery in the early Middle Ages.

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