The Pilgrimage Church of Wies (Wieskirche) is an oval rococo church, designed in the late 1740s by Dominikus Zimmermann. It is located in the foothills of the Alps in the municipality of Steingaden.

The sanctuary of Wies is a pilgrimage church extraordinarily well-preserved in the beautiful setting of an Alpine valley, and is a perfect masterpiece of Rococo art and creative genius, as well as an exceptional testimony to a civilization that has disappeared.

The hamlet of Wies, in 1738, is said to have been the setting of a miracle in which tears were seen on a simple wooden figure of Christ mounted on a column that was no longer venerated by the Premonstratensian monks of the Abbey. A wooden chapel constructed in the fields housed the miraculous statue for some time. However, pilgrims from Germany, Austria, Bohemia, and even Italy became so numerous that the Abbot of the Premonstratensians of Steingaden decided to construct a splendid sanctuary. Consequently, work began in 1745 under the direction of the celebrated architect, Dominikus Zimmermann, who was to construct, in this pastoral setting in the foothills of the Alps, one of the most polished creations of Bavarian Rococo. The choir was consecrated in 1749, and the remainder of the church finished by 1754. That year, Dominikus Zimmermann left the city of Landsberg to settle in Wies near his masterpiece, in a new house where he died in 1766.

The church, which is oval in plan, is preceded to the west by a semi-circular narthex. Inside, twin columns placed in front of the walls support the capriciously cut-out cornice and the wooden vaulting with its flattened profile; this defines a second interior volume where the light from the windows and the oculi is cleverly diffused both directly and indirectly. To the east, a long deep choir is surrounded by an upper and a lower gallery.A unique feature is the harmony between art and the countryside. All art forms and techniques used - architecture, sculpture, painting, stucco work, carving, ironwork, etc. - were melded by the architect into a perfect, unified whole, in order to create a diaphanous spatial structure of light and form. The remarkable stucco decoration is the work of Dominikus Zimmermann, assisted by his brother Johann Baptist - who was the painter of the Elector of Bavaria, Max-Emmanuel, from 1720. The lively colours of the paintings bring out the sculpted detail and, in the upper areas, the frescoes and stuccowork interpenetrate to produce a light and living decor of unprecedented richness and refinement. The abundance of motifs and figures, the fluidity of the lines, the skilful opening of surfaces, and the 'lights' continually offer the observer fresh surprises. The ceilings painted in trompe-l'œil appear to open to an iridescent sky, across which, angels fly, contributing to the overall lightness of the church as a whole.

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Address

Wies, Steingaden, Germany
See all sites in Steingaden

Details

Founded: 1745-1754
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Emerging States (Germany)

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

jeanne lomax (10 months ago)
A lovely UNESCO site that we visited in February. The drive was delightful. The church is in our top 5 best churches so far. Not normally on the top of the Bavarian list, but this should be a added. We were so glad we went for a day trip.
Lee Snell (11 months ago)
Beautiful rococo style church. Be sure to pick up a brochure about the church ⛪️. The cost is 3
Jan R. Seyler (11 months ago)
A really impressive Rokoko church. It's a bit off the grid but well known. We visited in the winter and had a lot of snow, which was nice. Parking is 2 € for two hours and then 0,50 € for every additional hour. There are guided tours to the church and you should inform yourself, so you are not coming while service hours because visiting is permitted in this time.
Allan Boldt (12 months ago)
The Church is ornate and very beautiful. The adjacent restaurant has authentic German food with great service and a fair price, I believe it is family owned and operated. The gift shop has quality items at a reasonable price.
David Kenny (14 months ago)
What an amazing church in the heart of the countryside. The impressive large exterior stands on a small mound one Hundred yards from the car park. The plain white building provides no hint to the amazing interior that presents itself once you enter through the heavy door. Once inside the majestic interior provides a vista of ornate gold on white. Refreshments available next to car park.
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