St. Nicholas' Church

Hamburg, Germany

The Gothic Revival Church of St. Nicholas was formerly one of the five Lutheran Hauptkirchen (main churches) in the city of Hamburg. The church lies now in ruins, with only its tower remaining, serving as a memorial and an important architectural landmark. The church was the tallest building in the world from 1874 to 1876 and is still the second-tallest structure in Hamburg.

With the founding of the Nikolai settlement and a harbor on the Alster in the 12th century, a chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas, patron saint of sailors, was erected. This wood building was the second church in Hamburg, after St. Mary's Cathedral.

In 1335, some years before the onslaught of the Black Death, construction on a new brick building began. The structure was to be a three-naved hall church in the typical North German Brick Gothic style. This building stood until the middle of the 19th century, undergoing changes, expansions, and withstanding several partial destructions. The tower, which was erected in 1517, burned down in 1589. The tower built to replace it collapsed in 1644. The last tower of the old Church of St. Nicholas was designed by Peter Marquardt. The Marquardt tower had a height of 122 metres and with its characteristic dome was a landmark of the city and jewel of its skyline.

The old Church of St. Nicholas was the first large public building to burn in the great fire of May 1842. Shortly after the fire, the church was rebuilt again. The English architect George Gilbert Scott, who was an expert in the restoration of medieval churches and an advocate of the gothic architectural style, was commissioned to devise a new design. The architecture was strongly influenced by French and English gothic styles, though the pointed spire is typically German. The amount of sculptures made from sandstone in the interior and on the tower was unusual. The new church was built to the southeast, a short distance from the old location, where the Neue Burg had once stood. The construction started in 1846, and on 27 September 1863 the church was consecrated.

The clearly visible tower of the Church of St. Nicholas served as a goal and orientation marker for the pilots of the Allied Air Forces during the extensive air raids on Hamburg. On 28 July 1943 the church was heavily damaged by aerial bombs. The roof collapsed and the interior of the nave suffered heavy damage. The walls began to show cracks, yet neither they nor the tower collapsed.

The current condition of the Church of St. Nicholas is the result of the bombing of Hamburg in World War II, resultant demolition in 1951 and restoration work in the 1990s and 2012.

 

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Details

Founded: 1846-1863
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: German Confederation (Germany)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Rani Nakamura (11 days ago)
The church was very beautiful and majestic. If you want to go up the tower you’ll have to pay. The view at the top of the we tower was exquisite, I would recommend it.
Luciana Côrtes (21 days ago)
Ruins of an old church, for those who like it, it's worth visiting. You can visit the tower, on the day I went it was closed for visitors. I enjoyed going and getting to know it, it doesn't take more than a few minutes to see it, and read a little about it.
Eirini Man (31 days ago)
The architecture is amazing and the view from the top great! I liked that historical facts are provided to get a better picture, shame such a nice church got so damaged, however restoration is quite good. Elevator (ticket) is a bit overpriced but you can get a discount with hamburg city card.
Kenn Madsen (44 days ago)
Worth a visit....The Church of St. Nicholas (German: St.-Nikolai-Kirche) was a Gothic Revival cathedral that was formerly one of the five Lutheran Hauptkirchen (main churches) in the city of Hamburg, Germany. The original chapel, a wooden building, was completed in 1195. It was replaced by a brick church in the 14th century, which was eventually destroyed by fire in 1842. The church was completely rebuilt by 1874, and was the tallest building in the world from 1874 to 1876. It was designed by the English architect George Gilbert Scott. The bombing of Hamburg in World War II destroyed the bulk of the church.
Mari Kukerman (50 days ago)
Very interesting tourist sightseeing site. Inside the historic church walls elevator has been installed that takes you up for the viewing platform. Provides nice lookout over the whole city with interesting bits of historic informational texts. Also, ticket is resoanable price and also includes the ticket of the museum. We went to the museum as well and it provides very thorough overview of church's history with all the details.
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