In 990 AD, Willigis, Archbishop of Mainz and Archchancellor of the Holy Roman Empire, endowed a collegiate foundation in Mainz and had the church built as the “Empire’s Place of Prayer”. The constructor of the cathedral was himself laid to rest in St. Stephen’s in 1011. The new Gothic building was erected between 1290 and 1335. It stands on the foundations of the basilica built in Ottonian-pre-Romanesque style around 990. When the (gun) Powder Tower located nearby blew up in 1857, St. Stephen’s was also badly damaged. The rich baroque decoration was removed during the reconstruction.
St. Stephen’s is the only German church for which the Jewish artist Marc Chagall (1887 - 1985) created windows. He completed his final window shortly before his death at the age of 97. Nineteen later and deliberately more modest windows in the side aisles by Charles Marq, from the Atelier Jacques Simon in Reims, serve to lead up to the masterpieces. Chagall worked together with Marq for 28 years.
Anyone who has seen the famous windows should not afterwards fail to take a walk around the most beautiful late-Gothic cloister in Rhineland-Palatinate. This was the place of burial of many of the 600 canons. Tombstones and the coats of arms of the capitular families recall their memory. The coats of arms are enriched by modern keystones donated by the federal and state governments, the bishopric and city of Mainz. Works of art, such as the enthroned God the Father from the 15th century, or the late Gothic sculpture of St. Anne, the Virgin and the Christ Child, should also not be overlooked. For some years in St. Stephen’s, children have been baptised in the original Gothic baptismal font from 1330 again.References:
The Erfurt Synagogue was built c. 1094. It is thought to be the oldest synagogue building still standing in Europe. Thanks to the extensive preservation of the original structure, it has a special place in the history of art and architecture and is among the most impressive and highly rated architectural monuments in Erfurt and Thuringia. The synagogue was constructed during the Middle Ages on the via regia, one of the major European trade routes, at the heart of the historical old quarter very close to the Merchants Bridge and the town hall. Many parts of the structure still remain today, including all four thick outer walls, the Romanesque gemel window, the Gothic rose window and the entrance to the synagogue room.
After extensive restoration, the building was reopened in 2009. On display in the exhibition rooms is an collection of medieval treasures discovered during archaeological excavations. This includes 3,140 silver coins, 14 silver ingots, approx. 6,000 works of goldsmithery from the 13th and 14th centuries and an intricately worked wedding ring of the period, of which only two others are known to exist anywhere in the world. A mikveh (Jewish bath) has been excavated close by (13th/14th century). The Old Synagogue, the Small Synagogue and two Jewish cemeteries together form a network of historical buildings and sites which vividly portray the role of Jewish life in the history of Erfurt.