St. Michael's Church

Munich, Germany

St. Michael's Jesuit church in Munich is the largest Renaissance church north of the Alps. The style of the building had an enormous influence on Southern German early Baroque architecture.

The church was built by William V, Duke of Bavaria between 1583 and 1597 as a spiritual center for the Counter Reformation. In order to realise his ambitious plans for the church and the adjoining college, Duke William had 87 houses in the best location pulled down, ignoring the protests of the citizens. The church was erected in two stages. In the first stage (1583-88), the church was built by the model of Il Gesù in Rome and given a barrel-vaulted roof by an unknown architect, the vault being the largest in the world apart from that of St Peter's in Rome, spanning freely more than 20 meters. When the church was built, there were doubts about the stability of the vaulting. But it was the tower that collapsed in 1590, destroying the just completed quire. Duke William V took it as a bad omen and so planned to build a much larger church. The second phase of construction continued until the consecration of the church in 1597. Friedrich Sustris built on to the undamaged nave a new quire and a transept and a magnificent facade. The church is 78.2 meters long, 20.3 meters wide and 28.2 meters high.

The facade is impressive and contains standing statues of Duke Wilhelm and earlier rulers of the Bavarian Wittelsbach dynasty, cast in bronze, in the form of a family tree.[9] Hubert Gerhard's large bronze statue between the two entrances shows the Archangel Michael fighting for the Faith and killing the Evil in the shape of a humanoid demon.

The interior is a representation of the triumph of Catholicism as true Christianity during the Counter-Reformation. The heavily indented chancel arch as well as the short side aisles and even the side chapels are designed as a triumphal arch to ancient model. A very deep choir room adjoins the mighty nave. The stucco decoration of the nave represents the life of Jesus Christ. The altarpiece 'Annunciation' was created by Peter Candid (1587). The sculpture of the holy angel in the nave from Hubert Gerhard (1595) was originally intended for the tomb of William V, which was not completed.

Having suffered severe damage during the Second World War, the church was restored in 1946-48. Finally, between 1980 and 1983, the stucco-work was restored.

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Address

Ettstraße, Munich, Germany
See all sites in Munich

Details

Founded: 1583-1597
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Reformation & Wars of Religion (Germany)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Faruk Yazıcı (2 months ago)
Beautiful white building with amazing decorations
Cesar Pimenta (3 months ago)
Amazing! Such a quietly and peaceful place
Robert Hedric (5 months ago)
A gorgeous old church in the heart of Munich. It also houses the Wittelsbacher crypt, which as a highlight includes the sarcophagus of King Ludwig II, who had commissioned the fairytale castle Neuschwanstein. Definitely worth seeing!
Dave Peadon (5 months ago)
Called in here and was really pleased. We had a very talented brass band playing Christmas music. The atmospherics are fantastic. The architecture was stunning. This is a must visit when in Munich.
Jens Görner (7 months ago)
It's a famous monument of Munich. Outside picture is enough. Inside is very empty. There are definitely nicer churches in Germany.
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The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

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