The Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) is undoubtedly the most famous landmark in the city of Munich. Its impressive domed twin towers rising a hundred metres into the sky can be seen from miles around. This triple-naved late-Gothic cathedral in Munich"s old quarter, which houses art treasures spanning five centuries, is the cathedral church of the Archbishop of Munich and Freising.
The late-Gothic brick edifice with its colossal saddleback roof, erected by Jörg von Hasbach between 1468 and 1488, towers over the other buildings in Munich"s old quarter. The Church of Our Lady is one of the largest hall churches in southern Germany. Despite its dimensions, it is the beauty and simplicity of the church which captivate its visitors. Inside there are many precious art treasures, such as the choir windows from the late 14th century which originate from the previous church, the figures of the apostles and prophets by Erasmus Grasser, and 18th century gilded reliefs by Ignaz Günther depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary. The oldest tombs of the House of Wittelsbach are found in the royal vault under the choir, among them Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian and his sons.
The altars and the side altars, remodelled in the baroque style, are especially beautiful, as are the chapels which contain works by various artists, including van Dyck"s Christ on the Cross. Legend has it that the devil demanded the church be built without windows. When he went inside to inspect the building, he left behind a footprint in the entrance to the church. Thanks to an architectural illusion, no windows can be seen from the 'devil"s footprint' just inside the door, and the devil left satisfied. The towers house a total of ten bells with beautiful chimes, which are rung at different times throughout the day and on special occasions. The bells are amongst the most valuable and historical in Germany.
The Church of Our Lady has seating for 4,000 people and is always well attended. The south tower is open to the public. From the top, which can be reached either on foot or by lift, there is a splendid view of the city and the nearby Alps.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.