Pilgrimage Church Käppele

Würzburg, Germany

Käppele is the commonly used name for the church Wallfahrtskirche Mariä Heimsuchung in Würzburg. It was built following plans by Balthasar Neumann in the mid-18th century in Rococo style. It serves as a pilgrimage church and until 2014 was attended to by members of the Capuchins.

The name Käppele is derived from the German word Kapelle (chapel). Originally, a local fisher erected a pietà in what was then a vineyard in 1640. About ten years later, four miracle cures were reported in connection with the statue. Around 1650, a first chapel was built around the pietà. Together with some other reported phenomena, the cures began to attract pilgrims to the site, especially around pentecost. In 1690 and 1713, the original chapel was increased in size. Balthasar Neumann, architect of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Würzburg Residence, then drew up plans for a new church which incorporated the older chapel as the Alte Gnadenkapelle. The foundation stone was laid on 5 April 1748. Construction took until 1750 but the interior furnishings were not finished until 1821. The new chapel was officially inaugurated only on 21 September 1824, due to earlier disruptions caused by securalization of 1803. However, the capuchins already began holding services in 1754.

A way of the cross with 14 stations of the cross marked by small chapels leads up to the Käppele. These were based on an idea by Neumann, but completed only in 1799. The live-sized statue groups (77 figures) were created by Simon and Peter Wagner.

The church's double-towered front and the roof with its cupolas and roof lanterns give it an unusual appearance that distinguishes it from the other churches of Würzburg. The interior features ceiling frescos by Matthäus Günther from 1752 and 1781 and stucco work by Johann Michael Feuchtmayer the Elder. The side altars date to 1768. The neoclassical high altar was made in 1799.

The organ dates to 1752, made by Christian Köhler from Frankfurt. Votive offerings in the Mirakelgang reflect local devoutness and tastes of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Apart from being a tourist attraction, the Käppele remains a popular pilgrimage site, especially at pentecost.

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Details

Founded: 1748
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Emerging States (Germany)

Rating

4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ihor Parashchenko (2 months ago)
Kappele Sanctuary is a very important architecture of religion that everyone who visits Würzburg have to visit Kappele in order to see medieval construction and in the same time art of 18 - 19 centuries.
Animesh Kumar (4 months ago)
One of the most beautiful church I have visited across Germany. A pilgrimage site dating 17th century located on the parallel hillside of Marienberg fortress. Can be reached through a walk from Löwenbrücke. It can be tiring to walk all those steep stairs but the panoramic view of Würzburg that it provides is worth all the efforts. On the way up you cross 14 stations depicting the story of the cross carried by Jesus with beautifully carved sculptures. The forest behind the church is worth taking a walk. Autumn time is specially recommended as it becomes exceptionally beautiful.
Earthy Intuitive (12 months ago)
Absolutely gorgeous! Easily the most beautiful church I have seen. There are probably around 150 steps up to the church. There are about 15 spaces to park in on the street below. There is some handicap parking behind the church, but not sure how it works as I didn’t use it.
Ines Schmidt (12 months ago)
Never seen architecture to take you up the hill to a church like that. A set of stair cases, statues and stories guide you up the hill. Make sure you are steady on your feet if you decide to take the stairs, there are many of them! Once on top a golden interior can be admired.
Tim Wichmann (3 years ago)
Awesome view over the old town of Würzburg. Right behind it, you can walk in a forrest which looks like one in a fairy tale, when it is a bit foggy.
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