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

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Tim Wichmann (10 months 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.
Mike Treuer (13 months ago)
If climbing more than 250 stairs for a fantastic view over the city is something that sounds good to you, you should definitely consider visiting the Käppele. The via dolorosa illustrates the 14 stations to a splendid rococo pilgrimage church. Check the free not for profit student project use-it Würzburg to read up on this place.
Carola B (15 months ago)
One of my favourite places in Würzburg
andie rogers (15 months ago)
So beautiful. Be prepared to walk up a lot of stairs. On the way up you will follow the stations of the cross, so come with a peaceful mind.
Fiona Marie (2 years ago)
Beautiful little baroque church with a fantastic view of the city. The interior is exquisitely decorated, it could just use a very thorough cleaning to restore it to the gold and white splendour it must have had in earlier times. But even now a sight well worth the walk up the hill.
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Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.