The Regensburg Cathedral, dedicated to St Peter, is the most important church and landmark of the city of Regensburg. It is the prime example of Gothic architecture in Bavaria.
A first bishop"s church was built around 700, at the site of the present-day cathedral parish church Niedermünster (St. Erhard"s tomb). Around 739, St. Boniface chose the area of the Porta Praetoria (North Gate of the old Roman fort) for the bishop"s seat, and the site of the cathedral has remained there since. The Cathedral was rebuilt in Carolingian times and expanded in the early 11th century, with an approximately 15-meter-wide transept, two towers and an atrium.
In 1156-1172 the edifice burnt twice, and was also rebuilt starting from 1273 in High Gothic style. The three choirs of the new cathedral were ready for use in 1320, while the old cathedral was demolished at the same time. In 1385-1415 the elaborate main entrance to the west was completed, with the most of the new edifice being finished around 1520; the cloister was constructed in 1514-1538.
The cupola at the transept crossing and other sectors were renovated in Baroque style in the 17th century. In 1828-1841 the cathedral underwent a neo/Gothic restoration commissioned by King Ludwig I of Bavaria. The Baroque frescoes were relocated and the cupola demolished, being replaced by a quadripartite rib vault. The towers and their spires were built in 1859-1869. Three years later the cathedral was finally finished, with the completion of the transept gable and the spire (at the crossing), after some 600 years of construction.
The state-run Dombauhütte (Cathedral building workshop) was founded in 1923, for the ongoing oversight, maintenance, and restoration of the cathedral. In the 1980s construction of the crypt mausoleum and archeological exploration of the center nave (partial exposure of a former southern arcade entrance to the atrium of a precursor Roman structure) were carried on.
An unusual feature of Regensburg Cathedral is its separation from the structure of the older cloister. This separation came about when the church was rebuilt and displaced to the southwest of the earlier Romanesque cathedral.
The Erminold Maria is one element of an Annunciation group in the Regensburg Cathedral. It goes back to the so-called Erminoldmeister, who carved and colorfully painted the figure of Mary and the famous laughing figure of the angel Gabriel about 1280. The figures are juxtaposed to one another on the two western pillars at the crossing of the nave. Mary"s right hand is slightly raised toward the angel in greeting. In her left hand she holds a book, into which she is pointing with her index finger.
On the eastern pillars at the crossing are stone figures of Saints Peter and Paul, which were installed in 1320 and 1360-1370 respectively. On the exterior there is a Judensau (Jews" sow) in the form of a sow and three Jews hanging onto its teats. The Judensau faces in the direction of the former Jewish quarter at the Neupfarrplatz.
The All Saints" Chapel in the cathedral cloister was built in 1164 as a burial chapel for Bishop Hartwig II by master builders from Como, in northern Italy. Its interior consists of a more finely articulated triconchos with frescoes from the time of its construction.
Most of the valuable stained glass windows were installed between 1220-1230 and 1320-1370. The windows of the west facade were only completed in the 19th century. In 1967-1968 came the windows of the left chancel, from the hand of the artist Professor Oberberger. He also produced the Pentecost window in the west of the north transept and the clerestory windows in Gothic style.
The silver high altar stems from Augsburg artists and was built in the period between 1695 and 1785. A particular feature is the five Gothic altars of reservation. St. Peter Canisius preached from the stone pulpit in the central nave in 1556-1557.
The Cathedral is also the burial place of important bishops, including Johann Michael von Sailer (1829-1832, memorial built by Konrad Eberhard in the south chancel), Georg Michael Wittmann (1832-1833, memorial also by Konrad Eberhard in the north chancel), and Archbishop Michael Buchberger (1927-1961, likewise in the north chancel). In the western part of the central nave stands a bronze memorial for the Prince-Bishop Cardinal Philipp Wilhelm (d. 1598), the brother of Duke Maximilian I of Bavaria.References:
Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.
At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.
During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.
In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.
The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.
The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.
After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.
When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.