Münster Cathedral

Münster, Germany

Münster Cathedral stands in the heart of the city, on a small hill called Horsteberg. This area, which also contains the Domplatz and surrounding buildings, was the old Domburg. West of the cathedral lies the bishop's palace and part of the old curia complex along with the current cathedral chapter.

The cathedral had two predecessors. The first cathedral (called the Ludgerus Dom, 805-1377) stood to the north of the current cathedral; the second cathedral was built in the tenth or eleventh century and was demolished during the construction of the third and current cathedral between 1225 and 1264. The imposing westwerk with its nearly identical towers was built as part of the second cathedral around 1192 and was incorporated into the current building. As a result, the cathedral is a mixture of styles, combining the Romanesque westwerk, old choir and west towers with the Gothic nave, transepts, high choir and ring of chapels.

Each of the cathedral buildings served as the cathedral church of the Diocese of Munster, but each also had additional functions, at least at times. The original Carolingian cathedral was also the Collegiate church for a cloister founded by Liudger, with the monks living under the rule of Chrodegang. Each cathedral served as a parish church, originally for the whole of Munster. As a result of the foundation of further parish churches, the parish district of the cathedral was reduced to the Old Domburg and Domimmunität in 1090. In the first half of the thirteenth century, the Church of St Jacobi was built on the Domplatz. With the completion of this church, the cathedral, which was then under construction, lost its function as a parish church entirely. Since the demolition of St Jacobi in 1812, the cathedral regained its role as parish church.

The cathedral contains the tomb of the former Bishop of Munster, Clemens August Graf von Galen who became a Cardinal shortly before his death in 1946 and was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

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Details

Founded: 1192-1264
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Hohenstaufen Dynasty (Germany)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jay Bfn (3 years ago)
Great place filled with rich architecture and a must visit place when in Munster
naples pizza (3 years ago)
Very impressive. Must see the astronomical. Clock behind the alter
HL RFareham (3 years ago)
Interesting church. Free to enter. There was a large saturday market outside
Ben Kilhams (4 years ago)
Very interesting historical place. Read many a book in my teenage years about the role of Munster during the reformation so it was great to see the reality.
Gonz Alin (4 years ago)
It was much much nicer than what I expected. Cathedral is way different to what you always find inside German churches. There are amazing stained-glass windows and sculptures inside, displayed in a sort of artistic way rather than the usual boring-church-style, and together with the astronomical clock and the graveyard, it makes the cathedral a special place. If you're interested in arts and architecture, this place is a must in Münster. On top of that, on weekends a local market takes place in the square next to the Cathedral.
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Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.