The construction of the church for Saint Nicholas, the patron of sailors, fishermen and merchants, commenced around 1280, predating the first written sources that mention Anklam, which generally date to around 1300. The church's steeple was clearly visible from far away, and was once used for navigation of the lagoon near the town. During the Middle Ages, the church was regarded as a symbol of Anklam and as a monument to the freedom and wealth enjoyed by Hanseatic citizens. In 1336, one of Anklamer’s citizens, Thedericus Nordow, financed the construction of an altar. The construction of the church is believed to have been completed around 1500 with the installation of ornamented choir banks; architect Lorenz Bole completed further extensive work in 1568. A lightning strike damaged the tower in 1574; subsequent damage occurred during a storm in 1586 and as a consequence copper plates were installed on the roof to prevent a repeat of the strike.
In 1606, the decorated benches designed for the use of coopers and other guild members were installed. Between 1696 and 1700 all the construction and repair work was finished. In 1733, a further storm destroyed the church steeple, which observers in 1703 had described as already crooked. After further storm damage the church was equipped with a lightening conductor in 1802. In December 1806, the church was used by the French army as a saddle workshop during the Napoleonic Wars. On 10 January 1807, new Buchholtz/Berlin organs were consecrated. In 1816, the church was again set on fire after lightning strike and the steeple's peak was reconstructed in 1817. In 1850, Kaltschmidt, an organ builder from Stettin, constructed new organs in the newly installed organ choir in line with the drawings of the royal construction master, Märtens. Bishop D. Ritschl consecrated the organs in 1851. After one-storey chapels had been removed in 1868, the construction inspector, Butterkirch, renovated St. Nicholas' organ gallery. The church was then equipped with vault ribbing for the windows and cornice as well as ornamented benches. In 1906 the church received colourful stained-glass windows in the choir area, new organs and ornamented benches, and the walls were repainted. The renovated church was re-consecrated on 23 April 1909.
The church was severely damaged again during the Second World War and citizens feared the risk of total collapse. In 1994, the St. Nicholas' Church Association was established in order to support reconstruction of the church. In 1995, the church was crowned with a temporary roof, an important step which enabled the church to again be used on occassion.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).