Category Archives: churches

Going to church: Peterskirche am Plöck, Heidelberg

The church we are about to visit today in the fourth installment of this ongoing series is the Peterskirche am Plöck, the oldest church in the city of Heidelberg in southern Germany, that I visited in late October 2010. She served as University Chapel for the Uni of Heidelberg and officially became University Church in 1896.

via, cause I didn't take a full on picture...

The church is mentioned for the first time in 1196, therefore making it older than the city of Heidelberg itself. According to a contract with the University of Heidelberg, the church does not belong to any parish (although in terms of actual possession it is owned by a protestant foundation), but serves as the official University church.

The most striking thing about the Peterskirche for me was the amount of commemorative plaques attached to its outer and inner walls. These are the tombstones reminding visitors of the numerous university professors and nobles that were entombed in the church. They come in a variety of shapes and colors, featuring sphinxes and faded knights, all of them beautiful. Part of the now small ground surrounding the church has been a cemetery in former times, lying outside the city walls actually.

Between 1485 and 1496 the church was remodeled after gothic designs, but that was changed up later on, when towards the end of the 17th century the church (as much of the city) were destroyed and became a ruin. It was re-erected as a baroque church, but then again redesigned around 1870, following neo-gothic designs. Since 2006 some of the windows have been replaced with new ones by glass artist Johannes Schreiter, opting for a more modern, read: abstract, interpretation of classical motifs.

two of the windows designed by Schreiter, via

Going to church: St. Bonifatiuskirche Heidelberg

Yup folks, it is that time again: We go to church. You may just enjoy the view, just be interested in the architectural features or you might wanna sit down and pray, anyhow, you are very welcome. No need to convert though, I am not a Christian, nor am I religious, but I sure like them churches, so let’s take a peek.

For a long time the previously featured Jesuitenkirche (Jesuit Church) had been the only Catholic church in all of Heidelberg. But around the end of the 19th century the western part of the city as we know it today came to be built and from the beginning they had plans to erect both a Catholic and a Protestant church. The St. Bonifatius was thus built from 1899 to 1903 after Ludwig Maier’s plans and is of neo-Romanesque style, signified by the double-towers. The church was renovated in 1976 (interior) and then again from 2005 to 2009 (this time the exterior). You’ll find it in the (quite long, so google the exact position) Kaiserstraße in Heidelberg.

The interior of the church is quite beautiful and very unlike what many of us Germans are used to, due to seeing a lot of Baroque, neo-Baroque or Rococo interiors. There is a large wooden ceiling with paintings on it. Those look pretty medieval to my unqualified eye, so that came as a surprise, especially since the whole interior of the church is somewhat dark and gloomy while it looks so shiny and bright from the outside. That made for a nice contrast in atmosphere.

When I entered the church and took all the photos, there was actually just one other person there. This woman was obviously in prayer, sitting on one of the benches. Do I have to spell it out? I felt like the most offensive intruder ever, coming in all touristy and stuff, taking random pictures while she might be sitting there contemplating life and destiny and all the like. I toyed with the idea of just asking her if it’s ok for me to take pictures while she is there, until I finally came to the conclusion that I was too afraid to ask. However, the two times I passed her, we looked each other in the eye, smiled and nodded a friendly hello. So I totally felt accepted. And actually really happy. That was the nicest smile I had gotten that day, and the intimacy of the whole situation added a lot of emotional weight to it. So, dear woman in the St. Bonifatiuskirche in Heidelberg: thank you, and: you’re awesome!

If you happen to be in Heidelberg, take a walk out to the western part of the city and have a look at the St. Bonifatiuskirche, it is totally worth it!

Going to church: Jesuitenkirche Heidelberg

Since it is Sunday, this is a good time for another “Going to church” blogpost. It’s been a while since the first one (which you can find here), but I’ve seen some nice churches recently, so yay, new material! As per usual, keep in mind: I am not a Christian, nor a religious person, I just happen to enjoy churches a lot, so here we go:

Let us first take a tour around the building. The curious thing about the Jesuitenkirche is, that it is one of the two major churches in Heidelberg in terms of sheer size. Yet, while the other one, the Heiliggeistkirche is easily visible within the historic city, the Jesuitenkirche (Jesuit church) is kinda hidden away and springs up rather surprisingly once you stand in front of it. It’s massive, but all the buildings around are so close that you only really see it from up above or if you stand right in front of it. Since I lack a good camera and there was no way to stand back far enough, there is not picture of the whole church, except for the one at the bottom of this post.

The Jesuitenkirche is at the heart of the Jesuit Quarter in Heidelberg and main church of the Roman-Catholic Heilig-Geist-parish of Heidelberg. It has been built from 1712 to 1759 in the style of the Baroque, but the church tower is a more recent building, having been completed in 1872. Instead of being oriented towards the east, as churches usually are, this one is oriented towards the south, for whatever reason (but makes for a little curiosity, right?). The pieta is by the sculptor Julius Seitz, created in 1905. The organ is the most recent addition, dating back to only 2009, when the old organ was given to a private museum.

The two pictures right above and below depict two sculptures, that are part of a larger exhibition going on primarily in the church-adjacent Museum for sacral art and liturgy (in the church’s crypt apparently) titled “Gott – weiblich” (God – female) tracing back stories and histories of female depictions of God and asking for the female side of the Christian god. As a feminist I was very pleased to see that, escpecially since it is being made visible within the church itself.

Another really interesting project going on within the church itself are these two red towers in the image above. They are made of little clay bricks and serve to remember the dead. People close to one’s heart, who recently passed away, can be immortalized by writing their name in the wet clay, have the bricks be burnt and then added to these towers (representing church towers, if I remember correctly). I thought this was an incredibly awesome idea and love the fact that it is openly featured within the church nave. Cool things happen in churches, who’da thunk it?
And below one last glimpse on the church exterior, from afar, to be more precise: from on top of the hill where the Heidelberg Castle ruins are located. Go have a look, if you’re there!

Going to church: Nikolaikirche Spandau

You would never have guessed, but the initial idea for this blog was to blog about churches.
Now, I’m not a religious person, as in: I don’t go to church for service, nor do I believe in any religion, nor in any god.
But churches can be pretty badass nonetheless. Especially here in Berlin, where there seems to be one on every street corner and where nobody pays attention to just that, it is very interesting to just explore the city by visiting its churches.
While I abandoned the idea of this blog being exclusively about churches, I’d like to blog about them nevertheless, so here I begin:

I’ve been to Spandau out in the west with my flatmates over a week ago to go hunting for awesome things on cheap fleamarkets. Mind you, we were too late for that, but made a fun trip out of it by visiting the old Spandau city center and wandering around the citadel (which I’ll blog about later).

The St. Nikolai-church in Berlin Spandau was mentioned for the first time in 1240, although the construction of the church as we can see it nowadays only really started in the first half of the 14th century.
The tower, which is 77m of height, burnt down two times, once in 1740 and then again in 1944. The whole church has been restored to its old glory as late as 1996. It is a reformed church belonging to the Margraviate of Brandenburg, and the statue above depicts Elector Joachim II, who converted to Protestantism in 1539.

The baptismal font is apparently the oldest work of art in the church, dating back to 1398, which is pretty impressive. The image in the middle depicts the family tomb of the Lynars, who came to Brandenburg in 1578 after having converted to Calvinism and who directed the construction of the Spandau Citadel. The window is part of the small Ribbeck Chapel, beneath whose floor the family tomb of the Ribbecks is located.

After having had a thorough look we moved to the restaurant facing the church called “Satt und Selig” – full and blissful. We recommend the mushrooms filled with spinach and gorgonzola.

Oh, and they exhibit this incredibly hilarious work of art.

And I’ll just leave you with some impressions of far-out Spandau.