Again, we skipped a large portion of the recommended sites on the Rosen Route once we left the Dom. We were about to head back to the car to make our way down towards the Harz Mountains when a German man in the Dom recommended that we make a visit to St. Michael as well. So off we went, trudging our way through town over to St. Michael’s. It was well worth the effort once we got there!
Construction of the Basilica began around 1010 and was completed nearly a decade later. The Benedictine Michael’s Monastery had already been founded around 1000 AD by Bishop Bernward. The basilica is a good example of Ottonian architecture. During the bombing raids, the monastery was destroyed, and the church was severely damaged. The church was restored between 1946 and 1960, and in 1985, it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage listings.
As you approach the church, take some time to look at the outside before you step inside. Make note of the tower that sits near the entrance of the church. It is clearly from a different time period. In fact, look at all of the different colours and types of brick used in the construction.
The colours are very interesting inside the church—mostly white, but the arches were white with dark red stripes and with coloured accents on pillars, all very reminiscent of the Mezquita in Spain. Once again, you will see the Lower Saxony arrangement of pillars in the nave—two columns alternated by a single pillar.
The ceiling in the nave of the church is worth a visit in itself. With dimensions of 28.7m by 8.7m, the painted wooden ceiling, created around 1230, is a considered a single piece of art with nearly 1,300 individual parts. It represents the genealogical tree of Jesus, the so called, "Root of Jesse". Bright reds and blues dominate the scenes with brass nails or tacks accenting the corners of the scenes. Most Romanesque ceilings wouldn’t even hold a candle to this impressive sight. Straining your neck too much looking straight up? There is a large mirror located in the aisle for you to study the ceiling along with a guide detailing what you are seeing. During WWII, the panels were removed to protect them from bombing raids and the entire 90 figures escaped unharmed.
I am not sure if the cloisters were still under renovation when I visited. It was clear by the locked gate that it was not open to visitors at this time.
For another view of the church, take a few steps up to the altar, which sits high above the main part of the church. From here you can take in the ceiling, the pillars, and the arches with a view all the way to the back of the church all at once. What a sight! I highly recommend you don’t miss this one.