Religious sites in 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. ...
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

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

St. Mary's Church

St. Mary"s Church was built from 1247–1343 and is one of the most distinct Gothic buildings in Swabia. Between the 1520s and 1540s the church was a center of the Swabian reformer Matthäus Alber, who spread the teachings of Martin Luther to Reutlingen and surrounding areas. The church was heavily damaged during a fire in 1726. From 1893-1901 it was rebuilt in Neo-Gothic style. On the 71-meter high west towe ...
Founded: 1247-1343 | Location: Reutlingen, Germany

Salvatorkirche

Salvatorkirche was completed in 1415 and form an impressive architectural ensemble alongside the near twentieth-century town hall. The church is known as the final resting place of Flemish-born cartographer Gerhard Mercator (1512-1594). 
Founded: 1415 | Location: Duisburg, Germany

Lorsch Abbey

The religious complex represented by the former Lorsch Abbey with its 1,200-year-old gatehouse, which is unique and in excellent condition, comprises a rare architectural document of the Carolingian era with impressively preserved sculpture and painting of that period. It gives architectural evidence of the awakening of the West to the spirit of the early and high Middle Ages under the first king and emperor, Charlemagne. ...
Founded: 764 AD | Location: Lorsch, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.