St. Peter's Church

Dortmund, Germany

St. Peter's is a Romanesque church in Syburg, now a suburb of Dortmund. Standing on a rocky outcrop above the confluence of the Ruhr and the Lenne, the sandstone church is one of the most noticeable landmarks in the area.

The church is surrounded by a graveyard, which contains the oldest gravestones in Westphalia; three stones date back to between 750 and 850, one of which is in the church.

In his desire for Christianization, Charlemagne conquered the strategic area in 775. The original church, described as a basilica, is documented in the Annals of Lorsch as early as 776, making it the oldest in Dortmund and probably in Westphalia. Remnants of the simple rectangular wooden building are now under examination. The neighbouring castle of Hohensyburg, taken the same year by the Saxons, was liberated by Pope Leo III in 799.

The present-day building was built around 1100 with a flat ceiling and was a Wehrkirche (Fortified church). The tower, still standing today, was built in the 13th century. The church was an important medieval pilgrimage site. The church was damaged by fire in 1673 during the Franco-Dutch War leading to the destruction of the Romanesque apse. Replacing the apse, the chancel was built in 1688 with pointed windows in the Gothic style.

In the spring on 1945, at the end of World War II, the church was badly damaged by a bomb which completely destroyed the nave. It was rebuilt, together with section of the chancel, from 1953 to 1954. During excavations in 1950-51, 1976-77 and 1983, foundations of a Romanesque apse and a square building from the time of Charlemagne were found.

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Details

Founded: c. 1100
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Salian Dynasty (Germany)

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