The Protestant Amandus Church is a late Gothic fortified former village church. The first mention of a church at this place dates from 844. The foundation walls of the massive choir tower date from the late Romanesque or early Gothic period. The chancel, the choir tower with its embrasures and the oldest part of the nave were probably not built until after 1450, despite the early Gothic impression created by the chancel arch. The style periods out in the country often follow those of a region's main cultural centres. According to a headstone text on the south wall, in 1500 a chapel which no longer survives was added by the Mainz canon Peter Nothaft who originated from here. The tracery windows as well as the expressive crucifix on the altar also date from the late Gothic period.
In 1590, the rectory still in use today was built behind the north wall of the church. In 1596, the entire chancel was painted with murals by the artist Jörg Herzog from Markgröningen. The murals in the nave also date from this period. In 1597 and 1607, it was reported that the cemetery could no longer accommodate the victims of the plague. As a result, in 1610 the cemetery still in use today to the east of the church was built. In 1620, a southern transept with a large gallery was added, presumably at the cost of the chapel built in 1500. Around the same time, the round tower on the south side was erected as a stairwell for the manorial lords of Beihingen. During the wars of the 17th century, i.e. the Thirty Years' War and the War of the Palatine Succession, the church lost its windows, stalls, pulpit, and the bells installed in 1631.
In the following period these losses were compensated and the church further expanded. In 1699 the abat-voix was built, and only then, following models at Ludwigsburg built at the same time, was the pulpit added below. That year the church also received its first organ. In 1703, a stucco ceiling was completed in the south nave. In 1706 the bells were replaced. In 1737, extensions were made to accommodate the growing population. On the north wall the large wooden gallery for the men of the parish was erected, together with a specially constructed outer staircase with its own stone gateway.
In the 18th century, the church was embellished in the Rococo style. The Gothic ceiling, door and window embrasures and the rector’s stall were painted with ornamental imagery. The same artist, Hans Stiegler, painted the oils on the gallery ballustrades. In 1766 the church received the organ, whose casing is preserved to this day.
In 1958 the church underwent comprehensive restoration which revealed murals painted in medieval times and about 1600 which had been whitewashed over. Most could be recovered in subsequent years. The little altar before the organ was replaced in 1960 by a stone altar where the Gothic crucifix was placed. In 1981 the organ pipes were renewed, while the casing was preserved.
With the various additions, furnishings and fixtures the church appears contorted, buoyant and contrastive. The massive, austere Gothic style chancel tower is in peculiar contrast to the main structure, which with its added southern nave and the adjoining semicircular stairwell tower gives the impression of a buoyant Renaissance castle. Nevertheless, the structure as a whole is harmonious. Ornamental elements which recur in various parts of the building include the window designs, the unplastered stones forming the building ledges and the wraparound storey decorations make for a coherent structure. The bright white exterior and the exposed position of the church enhance the building itself while contributing to its appearance as an integral unit.
Next to the entrance, there is an unusually large tower room (in proportion to the church as a whole). It looks almost as if there is a second storey. In contrast, the chancel bears a classic tower as found in many churches in southern Germany. A Gothic chancel arch much narrower than the body of the church separates the chancel from the nave. The southern nave too is conspicuously segregated from the main nave. Between two round arches, a column decorated with coloured plaster bears the weight of the ceiling between the main and lateral naves. The chancel and the altar cannot be seen from some of the seats in the lateral nave. The richly ornamented Baroque pulpit with its abat-voix can however be seen from almost all seats.
The east wall of the church bears a large colourful medieval fresco showing a scene of the Resurrection. It was discovered during the 1958 restoration. The coffered ceiling and the two transoms were first painted in the Middle Ages. Traces can still be seen underneath Hans Stiegler’s ornamental Rococo decorations. The panels were also originally decorated with golden hemispheres.
The most striking embellishments are Stiegler’ oils covering the whole length of the gallery ballustrades. On the manorial gallery to the south they show Christ, the twelve apostles and the four evangelists. On the men’s gallery biblical history from the Creation to the Last Judgment and the Trinity is depicted consecutively along the west and north sides.
The Renaissance painting by Jörg Herzog in the chancel above the entrance to the vestry shows the creation of man in paradise and the story of Cain and Abel. To the left of the eastern chancel window, Moses with the ten commandments is depicted, while his brother Aaron is portrayed to the right of the window. The painting of the Creation on the chancel side of the triumphal arch could not be restored.
The organ solemnly inaugurated in 1766 was made by the renowned master organ builder Johannes Weinmar from Bondorf. It is richly decorated with figures of trumpeting angels and gilded arabesques. Originally it stood in its own gallery which, however, was removed during renovation work in 1898. On this occasion the pipes too were replaced by new ones more in accordance with the style of the times. In the second renovation in 1981, new pipes were again installed, this time with a view to reproducing as closely as possible the sound of the Baroque original.
Amandus church was not only a parish church, but also served the local nobility for representation and burials. Thus the tombstones of Bernhard (died 1467) and Werner (died 1492) Nothaft, both Nothaft knights, are to be found on the southern part of the east wall. Next to these is the colourful and richly ornamented Rococo tombstone of Ludwig von Gemmingen († 1771). In the chancel there are numerous tombs and epitaphs remarkable either for their sculptural design or their colouring. They preserve the memory of the noble families of Hallweil, Freyberg, Stammheim, Sachsenheim and Breitenbach from the Renaissance period. The walled up burial vault of these families is situated beneath the chancel.References:
The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.
A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.
In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.
In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.
In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.
From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.
In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.
The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.
In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.
The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.