Hildesheim Cathedral

Hildesheim, Germany

Hildesheim Cathedral has been on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list since 1985, together with the nearby St. Michael's Church. The cathedral church was built between 1010 and 1020 in the Romanesque style. It follows a symmetrical plan with two apses, that is characteristic of Ottonian Romanesque architecture in Old Saxony. The cathedral's treasures include world-famous artworks, bronzeworks from the time of Bishop Bernward, Bernward Doors and Bernward Column, as well as two of the four notable Romanesque wheel chandeliers: the Hezilo chandelier and the Azelin chandelier.

After renovations and extensions in the 11th, 12th and 14th centuries, the cathedral was completely destroyed during an air raid on 22 March 1945, and rebuilt from 1950 to 1960. A thorough renovation of the cathedral began in 2010, including technical and conservation measures. Some of the cathedral's treasures have been shown further afield, including at an exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The cathedral was reopened in 2014.

After the establishment of the diocese of Hildesheim in 815 by Louis the Pious, a Chapel of St. Mary was built on the locations of the modern apse. Bishop Gunthar of Hildesheim, who was in office from 815 to 834, had a small basilica with two round towers built immediately to the south of the chapel, which he dedicated to Saint Cecilia. This served as the original cathedral. Only traces of the foundations of these two buildings remain.

The next cathedral was built in 872 under Bishop Altfrid as a cruciform three-aisled basilica with a two-story westwork. It is an example of Ottonian architecture, with alternating column support and semicircular apses completing the naves. The building suffered severe fire damage in 1046. Bishop Azelin planned to erect a new, larger building further to the west and to extend the nave. His successor, Hezilo of Hildesheim, abandoned this plan and instead built on the old foundations, incorporating the surviving walls into the new building. Further important renovations occurred up to the end of the 14th century, but did not deviate from the ground plan of Bishop Altfrid's basilica. The north and south side chapels date from the gothic period and the tower above the crossing from the baroque period. In the 19th century, the original westwork was replaced by a Neo-Romanesque two-tower facade, which stood until 1945.

The Hildesheim Cathedral School, which had rooms in the cloisters, was one of the most significant educational institutions of the Ottonian and Salian periods. Its library has served as the Hildesheim Cathedral library since 815; it is the oldest library in Northern Germany.

The cathedral building is widely known for the 'Thousand-year Rose' (Tausendjähriger Rosenstock) which grows outside the building on the outer wall of the apse in the courtyard of the cloisters. The exact age of the rose is no longer precisely known, but the legend of the rosebush claims that it dates to 815. It is an important symbol of Hildesheim - according to folklore, as long as the bush flourishes, Hildesheim will prosper. The existence of the rosebush has been attested for at least four hundred years. The aerial bombardment of 1945 killed the main growth of the rosebush above the ground; under the rubble, only the charred stump of the rose remained. It was thought that the end of the famous rose had come, but the roots were largely intact, and in the spring of 1945 it put out 25 new shoots. The first sparse flowers bloomed in 1947, and by 1948 there were 122 flowers. It is believed to be the oldest living rose in the world.

The cathedral houses numerous works of art. These include the world-famous cast-bronze doors, depicting scenes from the Gospels and the Book of Genesis; and a cast-bronze column depicting scenes from the life of Christ. These bronzeworks date from the early 11th century and were commissioned by Bishop Bernward of Hildesheim.

There are also four notable Romanesque wheel chandeliers, also called corona or circular chandeliers, the larger Hezilo chandelier, and the older Azelin chandelier. The Ringelheim Crucifix was made c. 1000 from linden wood for the body and oak for the arms.

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Address

Domhof, Hildesheim, Germany
See all sites in Hildesheim

Details

Founded: 1010-1020
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Ottonian Dynasty (Germany)

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

adam jeff (2 years ago)
Nicely rebuilt church. A few items to see inside, the family member I was with who lives in the area preferred it before. A good story behind the Devil brick as well, see if you can find it. Hint its on the exterior about 6 feet from the ground.
Vijayakumar Megalamani (2 years ago)
What a beautiful place!
Anjan Kumar (2 years ago)
A must visit place in the town of Hildesheim. Neatly maintained and good if you know the history of the place
Anna Nikiforova (3 years ago)
This church is definitely worth to be visited. It is one of the most beautiful sightseeing in the Hildesheim. It's a part of UNESCO world's heritage. Very beautiful inside. The church contains many interesting exhibits. It was a concert at the time I was there. The music and singing were amazing, I really enjoyed it.
Emma (3 years ago)
I really love this place. There is so much to see and learn. The tombs are really interesting, the story of the rose is really lovely. It's the perfect place for children and adults especially on a rainy day!
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