Religious sites in Germany

Villingen Münster

Construction of the Villingen Münster first began in 1120. The late Romanesque church was rebuilt in around 1220. Heinrich von Fürstenberg chose the church as his burial site. In 1530, the dedication of the church was changed from John the Baptist to Mary and was consequently renamed "Church of our Lady".
Founded: 1120 | Location: Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany

Fürstenfeld Abbey

Fürstenfeld Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery in Fürstenfeldbruck. It was one of the household monasteries of the Wittelsbachs. The abbey church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is held to be a masterpiece of the late Baroque in southern Germany. In 1256, Louis II, Duke of Bavaria killed his first wife, Marie of Brabant (1226–1256) on suspicion of adultery, the penance for which, as imposed by Po ...
Founded: 1263 | Location: Fürstenfeldbruck, Germany

St. Giles' Church

St. Giles' Church is the smallest of the five major churches in Lübeck's Old Town and is adorned with Gothic wall paintings and elements from the Baroque and Renaissance periods. It is the smallest of the five major churches in Lübeck's Old Town and lies at the centre of the former craftsmen's district and Ackerbürger on the eastern slope of the town centre's hill towards Wakenitz. Today's three-naved hall church dat ...
Founded: 1227 | Location: Lübeck, Germany

St. Lorenz Basilica

St. Lorenz Basilica is a baroque minor Basilica and the former abbey church of the Benedictine Kempten Abbey. A church was built on the site in the 13th century but was burned down in 1478. Roman Giel of Gielsberg, the Abbot of Kempten, commissioned the master builder Michael Beer from Graubünden to build a new church to serve the parish and monastery. The foundation stone of the Basilica of St. Lawrence was laid on ...
Founded: 1652-1748 | Location: Kempten (Allgäu), Germany

Tegernsee Abbey

Tegernsee Abbey, officially known as St. Quirinus Abbey for its patron saint St. Quirinus, was founded either in 746 or around 765 AD. It was settled by monks from St. Gall and dedicated to Saint Quirinus of Rome, whose relics were brought here from Rome in 804. Soon, the monastery spread the message of Christianity as far as the Tyrol and Lower Austria. Until 1803, it was the most important Benedictine community in Bavar ...
Founded: 746-765 AD | Location: Tegernsee, Germany

Säckingen Abbey

Säckingen Abbey is a former Roman Catholic abbey founded in the 6th or 7th century by Fridolin of Säckingen, an Irish monk. While the Abbey had both monks and nuns, only the nuns" convent grew to be an important religious, economic and cultural institution for the entire upper Rhine. Little is known about the early history of the Abbey before the 9th century. On 10 February 878, the Emperor Charles the Fat ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Bad Säckingen, Germany

Lehnin Abbey

Lehnin Abbey was founded by the Ascanian margrave Otto I of Brandenburg in 1180, 23 years after his father, late Albert the Bear had finally defeated the Slavic prince Jaxa of Köpenick and established the Brandenburg margraviate in 1157. According to legend, Otto, while hunting at the site, had fallen asleep beneath a giant oak, when a white deer appeared to him in a dream, whose furious attacks he could only ward off by ...
Founded: 1180 | Location: Lehnin, Germany

St. Michael Church

St. Michael’s, one of the main churches in Lüneburg, is a good example of the red-brick hall churches of Northern Germany. In AD 956 the Holy-Roman emperor, Otto I, presented the Benedictine Abbey with the income from customs deriving from the extraction of the salt, which later made Lüneburg both famous and extremely wealthy. St. Michael’s was at that time part of the castle of the Billunger ducal family, which wa ...
Founded: 1376-1412 | Location: Lüneburg, Germany

Ottobeuren Abbey

Ottobeuren Abbey was one of the self-ruling imperial abbeys of the Holy Roman Empire and, as such, was a virtually independent state. It was originally founded in 764 by Blessed Toto, and dedicated to St. Alexander, the martyr. Of its early history little is known beyond the fact that Toto, its first abbot, died about 815 and that Saint Ulrich was its abbot in 972. In the 11th century its discipline was on the decline, un ...
Founded: 764 AD | Location: Ottobeuren, Germany

Herford Abbey Church

Herford Abbey was the oldest women"s religious house in the Duchy of Saxony. It was founded as a house of secular canonesses in 789, but moved later to the present site. The city of Herford grew up on this site around the abbey. The abbey was dedicated in 832 and was elevated to the status of a Reichsabtei ('Imperial abbey') under Emperor Louis the Pious (d. 840). Between 919 and 924 Herford was des ...
Founded: 832 AD | Location: Herford, Germany

St. Augustine's Monastery

The church and monastery of the Augustinian hermits in Erfurt was built around 1300. Martin Luther, the famous Augustinian monk, was admitted to the monastery on 17 July 1505. The Augustinian Monastery pays tribute to Martin Luther with a new exhibition. The Lutherzelle (Luther's cell) can be visited as part of the exhibition. Since 1988 the monastery has been used as an ecumenical conference centre and a memorial to Luth ...
Founded: 1300 | Location: Erfurt, Germany

Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers

The Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers (Basilika Vierzehnheiligen) is a late Baroque-Rococo church, designed by Balthasar Neumann and constructed between 1743 and 1772. It is dedicated to the Fourteen Holy Helpers, a group of saints venerated together in the Catholic Church, especially in Germany at the time of the Black Death. The Basilica faces the important German river Main in Franconia. It sits on a hillside, and ...
Founded: 1743-1772 | Location: Bad Staffelstein, Germany

St. Peter's Abbey

St Peter"s Abbey in the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) is a former Benedictine monastery. The monastic community was the house monastery and burial place of the Zähringen family. It was originally founded in Weilheim, in or before 1073, but was forced by hostile military action during the Investiture Controversy to move to Hirsau. Duke Berthold II of Zähringen (1078–1111) re-founded it as a family monaste ...
Founded: 1073 | Location: Sankt Peter, Germany

Imperial Abbey of Corvey

The Imperial Abbey of Corvey or Princely Abbey of Corvey was a Benedictine abbey. The site is located along the Weser River on the outskirts of Höxter where the Carolingian Westwork and Civitas Corvey were erected between AD 822 and 885 in a largely preserved rural setting. The Westwork (monumental, west-facing entrance) is the only standing structure that dates back to the Carolingian era, while the original imperial ab ...
Founded: 844 AD | Location: Corvey, Germany

St. Nicholas Church

St. Nicholas Church (Greifswalder Dom St. Nikolai) is a Brick Gothic church located in the western part of the centre of Greifswald. The first written sources referring to a church dedicated to St. Nicholas in Greifswald are from 1263. The oldest extant parts of the church have been dated to the last third of the 13th century. In 1385 work was begun on a new choir with a straight eastern wall, which was finished in 13 ...
Founded: c. 1263 | Location: Greifswald, Germany

Cologne Synagogue

Since 1899, the neo-Romanesque synagogue on Roonstraße has been the largest religious and cultural centre for the Jewish communities in Cologne. After being burned down by the Nazis on 9 November 1938, the synagogue was rebuilt between 1957 and 1959. The building’s main front has three arched portals and a large gabled façade with a centrally positioned rose window. In 2005 Benedict XVI became the first pope to visit ...
Founded: 1899 | Location: Cologne, Germany

Saint James' Church

The Gothic St. Jakobikirche (Saint James" Church) was constructed as the last of the major parish churches at the beginning of the 14th century on the former divide between Stralsund’s old and new city sections. This church distinguishes itself significantly from the other church buildings in the city through its various glazed shaped stonework and the ornamental decorations on the screens and friezes. It is cu ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Stralsund, Germany

St. Nicholas Church Ruins

The St. Nicholas Church in Bautzen was built at the beginning of the 15th century. It was destroyed and devastated during the siege of 1620 and Thirty Years" War. In the church ruins a small chapel is integrated.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Bautzen, Germany

Monastic Island of Reichenau

The island of Reichenau on Lake Constance preserves the traces of the Benedictine monastery, founded in 724, which exercised remarkable spiritual, intellectual and artistic influence. The churches of St Mary and Marcus, St Peter and St Paul, and St George, mainly built between the 9th and 11th centuries, provide a panorama of early medieval monastic architecture in central Europe. Their wall paintings bear witness to impr ...
Founded: 724 AD | Location: Insel Reichenau, Germany

Herrenchiemsee Abbey

According to tradition, the Benedictine abbey of Herrenchiemsee was established about 765 by Duke Tassilo III of Bavaria at the northern tip of the Herreninsel. New findings however indicate an even earlier foundation around 620-629 by the missionary Saint Eustace of Luxeuil. In 969 Emperor Otto I consigned the abbey to the Archbishops of Salzburg, who in about 1130 re-established Herrenchiemsee as a monastery of Canons ...
Founded: 7th century AD | Location: Chiemsee, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.