The Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) stands on the eastern side of the main market. An example of brick Gothic architecture, it was built on the initiative of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor between 1352 and 1362. The church contains many sculptures, some of them heavily restored. Numerous works of art from the Middle Ages are kept in the church, such as the so-called Tucher Altar (c. 1440, originally the high altar of the Augustinian church of St. Vitus), and two monuments by Adam Kraft (c. 1498).
The church was built in the grand market, in place of the former Jewish synagogue, which was destroyed during the pogrom of 1349 (which followed an outbreak of Black Death). The architect was probably Peter Parler. Charles IV wanted to use the Frauenkirche for imperial ceremonies, which is reflected in the porch with the balcony, and in the fact that the church is relatively unadorned except for the coats of arms of the Holy Roman Empire, the seven Electors, the town of Nuremberg, and the city of Rome, where the Holy Roman Emperors were crowned.
Charles IV's son Wenceslas was baptized in the church in 1361, on which occasion the Imperial Regalia, including the imperial reliquaries, were displayed to the people. Beginning in 1423, the Imperial Regalia was kept permanently in Nuremberg and displayed to the people once a year on a special wooden platform constructed for that purpose.
The Frauenkirche is a hall church with two aisles and a tribune for the emperor. The church contains nine bays supported by four columns. The triforium, named the Imperial Loft or St. Michael's Loft, opens on to the nave by means of an arcade, the arches of which are filled with floating tracery, consisting of three rosettes supported by a segmental arch. The narthex of the church contains tracery. All three sides of the narthex have portals, the jambs and archivolts of which are decorated with sculptures. The gable contains many niches, which used to house sculptures.
One of the most notable features of the church is the Männleinlaufen, a mechanical clock that commemorates the Golden Bull of 1356. The clock was installed in the church in 1506. The Holy Roman Emperor is shown seated with the prince-electors surrounding him.
The clock mechanism is activated at midday, a bell is rung to start the sequence followed by the trumpeters and drummer. Then there is a procession of the electors around the figure of the Holy Roman Emperor.References:
The Erfurt Synagogue was built c. 1094. It is thought to be the oldest synagogue building still standing in Europe. Thanks to the extensive preservation of the original structure, it has a special place in the history of art and architecture and is among the most impressive and highly rated architectural monuments in Erfurt and Thuringia. The synagogue was constructed during the Middle Ages on the via regia, one of the major European trade routes, at the heart of the historical old quarter very close to the Merchants Bridge and the town hall. Many parts of the structure still remain today, including all four thick outer walls, the Romanesque gemel window, the Gothic rose window and the entrance to the synagogue room.
After extensive restoration, the building was reopened in 2009. On display in the exhibition rooms is an collection of medieval treasures discovered during archaeological excavations. This includes 3,140 silver coins, 14 silver ingots, approx. 6,000 works of goldsmithery from the 13th and 14th centuries and an intricately worked wedding ring of the period, of which only two others are known to exist anywhere in the world. A mikveh (Jewish bath) has been excavated close by (13th/14th century). The Old Synagogue, the Small Synagogue and two Jewish cemeteries together form a network of historical buildings and sites which vividly portray the role of Jewish life in the history of Erfurt.