The German Church, or the Church of Saint Gertrude, was founded in 1571. it started as a Guild Lounge for german merchantmen in Stockholm who where a large part of the population in the 16th century. Hans Jakob Kristler enlarged the chapel in 1638-1642 to the present two-nave church. During the 17th century, while the choir of the school participated at the royal concerts, the church became an important centre for church music in Sweden. A crypt, construction on which was started in 1716 but was interrupted 1860-1992, is still in use by the parish. By 1800, the German congregation had dwindled to a mere 113 people, and in 1878 a fire destroyed the tower.
The interior is Baroque in style, the large windows of which make it overflowed by light, highlighting the white vaults and their many angels heads. The wine cellars of the original guild building are still found under the current marble floor. In the atrium is a window featuring St. Gertrude herself holding a chalice in one hand and a model of the church in the other. The ten metres tall altar was created by Markus Hebel, a Baroque master from Neumünster, Schleswig-Holstein.
The "king's gallery" crowned by the monogram of King Charles XI was designed by Nicodemus Tessin the Elder. The green and golden structure, at the time resting on pillars seemingly suspended over the floor, was reached by a magnificently carved flight of stairs used by generations of royal families, often of German descent, attending the sermons. The ceiling displays a painting by David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl, born in Hamburg and a member of the German parish. The lower part of the gallery was later glazed and today contains the sacristy. The painted windows are all from the turn of the century 1900. The southern windows, arguably, retell the benefits of living a devoted life. By the entrance is a commemorative plate reminding of the restaurateur Peter Hinrich Fuhrman (-1773), one of the church's most important donors.
Today the German parish sorts under the Church of Sweden but as a so called non-territorial parish, the approximately 2,000 members of which are found all around Stockholm. Sermons in German are still held every Sunday at 11 am, and the church is open daily during summers and at weekends during winter.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.