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 (2 years ago)
Great place filled with rich architecture and a must visit place when in Munster
naples pizza (2 years ago)
Very impressive. Must see the astronomical. Clock behind the alter
HL RFareham (2 years ago)
Interesting church. Free to enter. There was a large saturday market outside
Ben Kilhams (3 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 (3 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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The five-domed church looks simpler but no less impressive than its prototype, the thirteen-domed St Sophia of Kiev. The cathedral exterior is striking in its majesty and epic splendour evoking the memories of Novgorod's glorious past and invincible might. In the 11th century it looked more imposing than now. Its facade represented a gigantic mosaic of huge, coarsely trimmed irregular slabs of flagstone and shell rock. In some places (particularly on the apses), the wall was covered with mortar, smoothly polished, drawn up to imitate courses of brick or of whitestone slabs, and slightly coloured. As a result, the facade was not white, as it is today, but multicoloured. The play of stone, decorative painting and the building materials of various texture enhanced the impression of austere simplicity and introduced a picturesque effect.

The two-storied galleries extend along the building's southern, western and northern sides, with a stair-tower constructed at the north-eastern corner. The cathedral has three entrances - the southern, western and northern, of which the western was the main one intended for ceremonial processions. A gate standing at the entrance is known as the Sigtuna Gate (mid-12th century); according to legend, it was brought from the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. The second name of the gate derives from the town of Magdeburg, where it was made. The two leaves are decorated with biblical and evangelical scenes in cast bronze relief. In the lower left corner there are portraits of the craftsmen who created this superb specimen of medieval Western European bronze-work. An inscription in Latin gives their names, Riquin and Weissmut. The small central figure - judging from an inscription in Slavonic - is a representation of the Russian master craftsman Avraam, who assembled the gate.

There is yet another bronze gate in the cathedral, called the Korsun Gate. Made in the 11th century in Chersonesos, Byzantium, it leads from the southern gallery into the Nativity Side-Chapel. Legend has it that the gate was handed over to Novgorod as a gift of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (c. 978 - 1054).

The interior of the cathedral is as majestic as its exterior. It is divided by huge piers into five aisles, three of which end in altar apses. In the south-western corner, inside the tower, there is a wide spiral in relatively small, modest buildings of the 12th - 16th centuries.