Written by UK Flower Girl on 11 Feb, 2005
As we approached the church, we made a decision to skip the Cathedral Museum, even though it was recommended. We just couldn’t see everything in one day! This church is a UNESCO World Heritage site and we knew there would be much to…Read More
As we approached the church, we made a decision to skip the Cathedral Museum, even though it was recommended. We just couldn’t see everything in one day! This church is a UNESCO World Heritage site and we knew there would be much to see inside.
You enter the church through a side door, since the main doors hold the well-known Bernward Bronze doors [Bernwardstüren]. They are 472cm high and 115cm wide and were forged in one piece in 1015. There are extensive explanations available concerning the story told on the doors and what each rectangular panel represents, so I will not go into all of that for you [not enough room for it here, either!].
The second famous site within the church is the second oldest and largest wheel-shaped chandelier in Germany. It was created between 1055 and 1065 in honour of Bishop Hezilo. The chandelier has a six-metre diameter and consists of embossed, gold-plated, and copper-plated bands and carries 12 light towers, along with 72 candles.
Now you can move onto the next ancient artifact in the church: Christ Pillar. Standing on the right near the central tower is this four-metre-high, seven-ton pillar, dating from 1018. Relief work winds its way upward around the pillar in 154 figures. Twenty-eight scenes from the life of Christ are represented. You will find a display near the pillar explaining its history and scenes, but it is only in German.
Most visitors come to the church to see the Thousand-Year-Old Rosebush [Tausandjähriger Rosenstock], which burned along with a large portion of the church in the allied bombing raids on March 22, 1945. The town patiently waited for signs of life from the rosebush after the bombing. Once the rosebush started showing signs of life a few weeks later, they all knew Hildesheim would recover from the bombing [told to us by the helpful lady in the tourist office!]. You will notice the lower vines of the rosebush have tags attached with the date of the vine clearly shown. It is 50 euro cents to enter the cloister, where you can view the rosebush and the small chapels [Anthony Chapel, dating from the 12th century, and St. Anne’s, dating from 1321].
My guidebook tells the following story regarding the 1,000-year-old rosebush: "According to legend, the emperor lost his way while hunting and hanged his Marian relic on a rose bush at twilight. Despite the fact that it was summer time, the crucifix was frozen to the rose bush the following morning. The emperor interpreted this occurrence as a divine sign and decided to erect a chapel on the site."
When you see the Dom from the outside, it is hard to believe how modern it is on the inside. Of course, it is modern due to the reconstruction that had to take place after the major damage done to the entire town by the bombing raids during the war. Rebuilding took place mainly during 1950-1960.
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…Read More
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.
After visiting the Marktplatz, our next stop on the tour was St. Godehardikirche. The church was erected to honour Bishop Godehar, Bishop of Hildesheim from 1022 to 1038. Before this time, he was abbot of the monastery of Niederaltaich on the Danube.…Read More
After visiting the Marktplatz, our next stop on the tour was St. Godehardikirche. The church was erected to honour Bishop Godehar, Bishop of Hildesheim from 1022 to 1038. Before this time, he was abbot of the monastery of Niederaltaich on the Danube. Ever heard of the St. Gotthard Pass or Tunnel in Switzerland? This was also named after Bishop Godehard.
Several renovations and refurbishments have taken place at the church for various reasons. The southwest spire fell down twice, and bombing raids in WWII caused severe damage. As mentioned before, on March 22, 1945, most of the city of Hildesheim was destroyed by allied bombing and the northern wall of the church lay in ruins. Later that year, the church was repaired by the parish community. After the war, the church served as an Episcopal church but reverted back to a basilica when the Hildesheim Cathedral repairs had been made.
The wheel chandelier hanging down over the altar is not to be missed. It represents the "adoration of the lamb according to the Revelation of St. John". The chandelier was a present from Mary, last Queen of Hannover, in 1864. Also visit the "larger than life" St. Godehard holding the St. Mary relic in his hands.
A few more things to take note of when visiting the church:
Once we left the church, we skipped some of the recommended sites on the Rosen Route since we had other places to see that day. We strolled through a greenway area next to the Kalenberger Graben [Kalenberger Trench] on our way to the Hildesheimer Dom. If you follow the Rosen Route, you will eventually end up in the same place; we just cut out several sites.
We started out in the Marktplatz, which is the centre of the community. Early Saturday morning proved to be a bustling market time, as people were everywhere scanning the goods on display. Erected between 1246 and 1290, the Gothic Rathaus retains its look…Read More
We started out in the Marktplatz, which is the centre of the community. Early Saturday morning proved to be a bustling market time, as people were everywhere scanning the goods on display. Erected between 1246 and 1290, the Gothic Rathaus retains its look despite all of the changes and additions made over the years. During a bombing raid on March 22, 1945, the town, including the Rathaus, experienced severe damage. In the 1980s, Hildesheim embarked on a major restoration programme to restore many of the buildings in the Marktplatz to their former glory using traditional building methods, which turned out to be a major success as you will see.
Next to the Rathaus you will find the Oriental-looking Tempelhaus, modelled after Oriental originals encountered during the Crusades. Built by the Van Harlessem family in the 15th century, the name comes from the Jewish Temple that was supposed to have stood here. It is now owned by the Gerstenberg family, who publishes Germany’s oldest German daily, the Hildesheimer Allgemeine Zeitung, which has been appearing daily since 1705. The building has round turrets and a half-timbered annex that was added in 1591.
In the Marktplatz you will also find the Knochenhaueramthaus and the Bäckeramtshaus (Butchers’ and Bakers’ Guildhouses). The Knochenhaueramthaus was originally erected in 1529, and its gable had a height of 26m. It was supposed to have been one of the most beautiful Gothic structures in the world. After the bombing raids, a hotel was built on the site, and in 1986, it was demolished as part of the reconstruction of the Marktplatz. It was rebuilt to its original and authentic architectural style from 1984 to 1990. It now houses a restaurant and a museum. The Bäckeramtshaus was originally built in 1451, burnt down in 1579, rebuilt, and burnt down again in WWII. It, too, was rebuilt in the ‘80s to replicate its original style. It now houses a bakery and a café. The three adjacent building now house Le Méridien Hotel.