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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Domhof, Hildesheim, Germany
See all sites in Hildesheim


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


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Rafael Porfirio (19 months ago)
One of the most amazing cathedral of germany
Reg Mo (21 months ago)
Very peaceful place, and very different to many cathedrals as the inside is paint matte white, which added to the peace. Also the interior is very plain and quite modern, The courtyard is interesting to walk around, I went in winter, but I can imagine the court yard to be very pretty in the summer months. I understand that there is a very old rose growing in the courtyard. Inside the cathrdral is a crypt and a roman crypt , and the most fantastic chandelier.
Paulo Mendes (21 months ago)
The Hildesheim Cathedral also Hohes Cathedral Hildesheim or Mariendom Hildesheim (official name Hohe Domkirche St. Maria Himmelfahrt), is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic diocese of Hildesheim in Hildesheim. The first cathedral building on this site was built in 872. The buildings and art treasures belong together with the Michaelis Church since 1985 to the World Cultural Heritage UNESCO. The cathedral is one of the oldest bishop churches in Germany. The landmark building with its mighty west building and the Vierungsturm is characterized by predominantly Romanesque and Gothic components. After the founding of the Diocese of Hildesheim in 815, a Marian chapel was built in the area of ​​today's apse. To the south, Bishop Gunthar had one of the Sts. Cäcilia consecrated basilica of modest dimensions with two high round towers, which served as the first cathedral and collegiate church and received the graves of the first four bishops. Of both buildings only foundation remains are preserved. An older Hildesheim parish church possibly already existed in the chapel of St. Stephanus next to the gate on the eastern access of the Hellweg, whose Patrozinium could go back to Hildegrim of Chalons and its missionary work in eastern Saxony. The Hildesheim Mariendom was built in 872 under Bishop Altfrid as a three-aisled basilica on a cross layout with a two-level west building. The interior gives an early example of the Lower Saxon column change. In 1046 he suffered severe fire damage. Bishop Azelin intended to build a larger new building to the west and had the nave removed. His successor Hezilo gave up the new construction plan and rebuilt on the old foundations, including the remaining walls. Until the 14th century further profound changes in construction took place, but without deviating from the plan of the basilica of Bishop Altfrid. The side chapels of the north and south side date from Gothic times. The baroque era was the result of a crossing tower and a richly decorated interior, which was destroyed in 1945. 1840 to 1850 replaced the dilapidated original Westbau by a neo-Romanic twin tower front, which existed until 1945. The cathedral courtyard surrounding the cathedral shows the outline of the structure of Bernard Domburg even today. In the west extension of the axis of the cathedral stands since the 11th century, the prince-bishop residence as a government center of the Hochstifts; It was connected to the cathedral by a semicircular canal until 1841. The Hildesheim Cathedral School, which had its rooms in the cloister, was one of the most important educational institutions of the Ottonian and Salian empires. The resulting Dombi library is still there today. During the air raids on Hildesheim in the Second World War, the cathedral was completely destroyed except for the western building, the southern Langhausarkaden and the outer walls and had to be re-consecrated after the reconstruction as the only cathedral in Germany. The crypt and the Laurentius chapel from the 11th century have survived. The sacred building was rebuilt between 1950 and 1960 in a simplified form. Due to the high level of destruction, the Baroque interior design was abandoned and a design was sought that makes reference to accepted early Romanesque forms. The most visible from the outside measure was that the originating from 1840, neo-Romanesque upper floors and flank towers of the western building were removed and, based on the west bar of the cathedral to Minden, for which the Hildesheim Cathedral once stood model, the old state was reconstructed , Also, the portal house in front of the west building was removed by about half. Otherwise, the appearance remained as before the destruction, in particular, the baroque Fourier tower was reconstructed. The reconstruction took place using the simplest means. Because sandstone was in short supply after the war, the floor was laid out with marble. The ceilings of the nave and the side and cruise ships were poured into concrete and boarded from the inside to give the impression of flat beamed ceilings.
Carey Alexandre (2 years ago)
This is cathedral that was destroyed during the second World War. Apparently, the rosebush was destroyed as the cathedral and it started to grow again. That is why the symbol of Hildesheim is a rose. Nice to visit even if it is a bit modern.
RW (2 years ago)
Outstanding renovation of this very early church. The important, early works of Christian art really stand out as a result. The bronze doors are truly wonderful. The museum exhibit was also very impressive. A beautiful corner in Hildesheim.
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