St. James' Church is one of the five principal churches of Hamburg. The history of the church goes back to 1255 when St. James' was a small chapel located outside the Hamburg city walls. After these were extended in 1260, it became part of the Hamburg city territory.
Between 1350 and 1400, the chapel was replaced by a hall church with three naves, similar to St. Peter's. Around one hundred years later, a fourth nave was added to the south side of the structure. The sacristy in the northeast also comes from this time (1438) and is today Hamburg's only example of secular gothic architecture.
From 1806 to 1813, when Hamburg was occupied by Napoleonic troops, the church was used mainly as stables.
The second tower, erected in 1826-1827 after the previous one had become dilapidated, was destroyed in 1944, along with the rest of the church building, by bombing during World War II. Only the historic interior furnishings were saved. It was not until 1963 that St. James' re-emerged, built to the medieval design, albeit with a modern spire.
The famous Arp Schnitger organ of 1693 in the west gallery is, with its 60 registers and around 4,000 pipes, is the largest baroque organ in Northern Europe. From 1989 to 1993, the organ was completely restored, and since its rededication at Easter 1993 it can be heard every Sunday during services.
The 34 pictures in the organ gallery are the works of Otto Wagenfeldt and Joachim Lundt. They were created to portray the Bible in illustrations which everyone could appreciate and understand.
St. James' has three medieval altars: the Holy Trinity Altar in the Main Choir (c. 1518, the St. Peter Altar in the first south nave (1508), and the St. Luke Altar in the second south nave (1500) that originally comes from the Hamburg Cathedral.
Also worthy of notice is the Ministers' Room, which originally served as a library. Since 1543, it has been the collection room of the Cathedral ministers, and was remodelled in 1710. The ceiling murals, with their civic virtues, show the importance of maintaining parish to the city regiment. They were painted, like the landscape paintings on the wall, by Johann Moritz Riesenberger. Coats of arms on the walls name the pastors, vicars, and jurors who have served the parish since the sixteenth century.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.