Schleswig Cathedral

Schleswig, Germany

Schleswig Cathedral is the main church of Schleswig and was the cathedral of the Bishop of Schleswig until the diocese was dissolved in 1624. After the founding of Schleswig diocese in 947, the first cathedral in Schleswig was built. Today, neither the size nor the location of this cathedral is known. In 1134, construction of a new Romanesque basilica began. The work was only completed around 1200, because an additional nave was constructed that can still be seen today. Construction materials included granite, tuff from the Rhine, and brick.

After the collapse of two towers and some parts of the basilica in 1275, the High Gothic Hall Choir was constructed and completed around 1300. The Late Gothic Hall Church was built from 1200 to 1408 and was finally perfected in the 16th century. It was in 1894 that the cathedral got its final outward appearance. In 1888, when Schleswig became provincial capital, the construction of a Gothic revivalist western tower began at the request of the King William II of Prussia. It was finally completed in 1894 and was, measuring 112 metres, a little too high when compared to the proportions of the cathedral. There is a panorama platform on the tower at 65 meters which commands a great view on the city.

Beside the Gothic Altar of the Magi (ca. 1300) in the southern choir, a bronze baptismal font in the high choir by Ghert Klinghe (1480) and a four-metre-high wood carving of Christophorus, the cathedral's main attraction is the famous Bordesholm Altar.

Access to the cathedral is granted through the romanesque Petri Portal, dating back to 1180. A variety of materials were used for the portal's construction: granite, red sandstone from Skåne, limestone from Gotland and tuff from the Rhineland.

The sacristy, build around 1480, first served, indeed, as sacristy and conference room of the cathedral chapter and since 1567 as classroom for the cathedral's school. After the Reformation, it was converted to a Fürstengruft (tomb for the princes) as tomb for the dukes of Holstein-Gottorp.

Bishop Berthold arranged for an expansion of the High Choir at the end of the 13th century. Also, frescos were added, depicting the Annunciation, the Coronation of Mary, St. Catherine, St. Philippus, St. Peter, Deesis and angels. The choir banks were manufactured by an unknown artist working under the pseudonym Magister rusticus at the beginning of the 16th century.

The three-winged cloisters at the northern end of the nave, were constructed from 1310 to 1320, called the Schwahl. The name has its root in the Danish-Low German dialect and means 'cold alley'. It was used mainly for processions that left and re-entered the church on that way. Here, restored frescos from the church's foundation can be found. They show the life of Christ as well as a selection of legendary creatures. During Advent, a small art market takes place in the cloisters.

The altar, carved by Hans Brüggemann from 1514 to 1521 is the cathedral's main attraction. The oak wood altar, carved from 1514 to 1521, is 12.60 meters high and depicts biblical history from Christ's arrest to Ascension. Originally, the altar was manufactured for the Augustinian church in Bordesholm. After the priory's dissolution, the Duke Christian Albrecht of Holstein-Gottorp arranged for the altar's transfer to Schleswig Cathedral in 1666. A young Emil Nolde helped with the altar's restoration in Flensburg at the end of the 19th century.

In the northern choir nave, an elegant renaissance cenotaph for Frederick I, King of Denmark and Norway and Duke of Schleswig and Holstein, can be found. The tombstone, created for the choir in 1552 and put up there, was moved to its current position in 1901. It was called one of the 'masterpieces of Dutch renaissance art in Northern Europe' (M. Mehling). Its creator is the Flemish sculptor Cornelis Floris de Vriendt. Instead of the usual seven virtues, the (empty) sarcophagus stands only on six.

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Details

Founded: 1134
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Hohenstaufen Dynasty (Germany)

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jesper Agermose Hansen (2 months ago)
A very beautiful church and worth visiting while in Schleswig.
Prem S Sodha (7 months ago)
Pleaser for me to be here really so nice and excellent architect.
Nikolaj Erik “WhoopzPlays” Bay Theilgaard (2 years ago)
Unfortunately I didn't have the chance to go inside but the cathedral looks beautiful from the outside as well, a shame the scaffolding kind of ruined it a bit.
Eva Klintenstedt (3 years ago)
The enormous althar is really stunning! All cut in wood with beautiful details made me impressed! Definitely worth visiting!
Alex Ballance (3 years ago)
Beautiful, stripy brick church with gorgeous wall paintings, some of them appearing to be very old (not just 19th century paintings like some we’ve seen in Bremen). Currently under restoration but one can still see quite a lot of the structure (the pulpit and many monuments are covered in dust sheets).
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