The exact age of the original St. Mary's Church (Marienkirche) site and structure is not precisely known, but it was first mentioned in German chronicles in 1292. It is presumed to date from earlier in the 13th century. The architecture of the building is now largely composed of comparatively modern restoration work which took place in the late 19th century and in the post-war period. The church was originally a Roman Catholic church, but has been a Lutheran Protestant church since the Protestant Reformation.
Along with the Nikolaikirche, the Marienkirche is the oldest church in Berlin. The oldest parts of the church are made from granite, but most of it is built of brick, giving it its characteristic bright red appearance. This was deliberately copied in the construction of the nearby Berlin City Hall, the Rotes Rathaus. During World War II, it was heavily damaged by Allied bombs. After the war the church was in East Berlin, and in the 1950s it was restored by the East German authorities.
Before World War II, the Marienkirche was in the middle of a densely populated part of the district of Mitte, and was in regular use as a parish church. After the war, this area was cleared of ruined buildings and today the church stands in the open spaces around the Alexanderplatz, and is overshadowed by the East Berlin television tower, the Fernsehturm.
There is a striking statue of Martin Luther outside the church. The Marienkirche also contains the tomb of Field Marshal Otto Christoph von Sparr. Carl Hildebrand Freiherr von Canstein, the founder of the oldest Bible society of the world, the Cansteinsche Bibelanstalt, was buried here in 1719.
Bamberg is located in Upper Franconia on the river Regnitz close to its confluence with the river Main. Its historic city center is a listed UNESCO world heritage site.
Bamberg is a good example of a central European town with a basically early medieval plan and many surviving ecclesiastical and secular buildings of the medieval period. When Henry II, Duke of Bavaria, became King of Germany in 1007 he made Bamberg the seat of a bishopric, intended to become a 'second Rome'. Of particular interest is the way in which the present town illustrates the link between agriculture (market gardens and vineyards) and the urban distribution centre.
From the 10th century onwards, Bamberg became an important link with the Slav peoples, especially those of Poland and Pomerania. During its period of greatest prosperity, from the 12th century onwards, the architecture of this town strongly influenced northern Germany and Hungary. In the late 18th century Bamberg was the centre of the Enlightenment in southern Germany, with eminent philosophers and writers such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and E.T.A. Hoffmann living there.
Bamberg extends over seven hills, each crowned by a beautiful church. This has led to Bamberg being called the 'Franconian Rome'.