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Germany's Grand Churches


Whether you're making a spiritual pilgrimage or want to appreciate their majestic architecture, Germany's churches are some of the most spectacular sights the country has to offer. Steeped in history, cathedrals and churches in Germany tell their own story of the past; some churches stood the test of time and remained untouched for a thousand years while others wear the scars of war and are a vivid reminder of Germany’s turbulent history.

 A service in a German church will be an unforgettable experience – please check the links below for services and organ concerts.

1. Cathedral of Cologne

Cologne cathedral
Thomas Jaehnel

The Cathedral of Cologne, one of Germany's most important architectural monuments, is the third tallest cathedral in the world. It took over 600 years to build this Gothic masterpiece, and when it was finished in 1880, it was still true to the original plans from 1248. The Cathedral's most precious works of art are the Shrine of the Three Kings, a golden sarcophagus studded with jewels; the Gero Cross, the oldest surviving crucifix north of the Alps; and the "Milan Madonna", an elegant wooden sculpture from the 13th century.

Guide to the Catehdral of Cologne


2. Church of Our Lady in Dresden

Dresden Frauenkirche
Sylvio Dittrich/www.dresden-tourist.de

The Dresden Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), originally erected in 1726, has a moving history: In World War II, when air-raids wiped out the city center of Dresden, the grand church collapsed into a 42 feet high pile of rubble. The ruins were left untouched for over 40 years as a reminder of the destructive powers of war. In 1994, the painstaking reconstruction of the church began, almost completely financed by private donations; in 2005, the people of Dresden celebrated the resurrection of their Frauenkirche.

Guide to the Church of Our Lady in Dresden

3. Wieskirche - Church in the Meadow

Wieskirche at the Romantic Road
Allie Caufield

In the foothills of the Alps, you'll find the the pilgrimage church Wieskirche ("Church in the Meadow"), one of the most beautiful rococo churches in Europe. Built in the 18th century, the church is home to the sculpture of the Scoured Savior, and it is said that tears appeared in the eyes of the wooden figure – a miracle that attracted millions of pilgrims.

Photos of the Wieskirche

4. Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin

Memoral Church in Berlin

The Protestant Memorial Church of Berlin ("Gedaechtniskirche"), located at the popular shopping boulevard “Kudamm” in the west of the city, is one of the city's most prominent landmarks. In World War II, the church was heavily damaged by an air raid, destroying most of the building and its towers. The entrance hall and one broken spire could be saved and both were preserved as a war memorial. A new, strikingly modern concrete church with wonderful blue stained glass windows and a freestanding hexagonal bell tower was built in the 1960's alongside the original church.

Another Berlin church worth visiting is the Cathedral of Berlin on Museum Island.

5. Church of Our Lady in Munich

Frauenkirche in Munich, Germany
Bastian Stein

The Catholic Church of Our Blessed Lady (Frauenkirche) is the landmark of Munich and the city's largest church; it can hold up to 20,000 people. Built in 1494 in a record time of just 20 years, the architectural style of the brick-built church is late Gothic. Its famous domes atop each tower were modeled on the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

Guide to the Church of Our Lady Munich

6. Ulm Minster

Ulm Minster
The city of Ulm is proud to be home of the tallest church in the world, the Ulm Minster, whose church spires are a soaring 161, 53 meters high. The first stone of this pinnacle of gotic architecure was laid in 1377, and it took over 600 years until the work on the main steeple was finished and the Ulm Minster was completed. Climb the 768 steps to the observation platform and you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the Alps and the Germany's highest peak, the Zugspitze.

7. Cathedral of Mainz

Mainz Cathedral
GNTB/Hans Peter Merten
Over the roofs of the Old Town in Mainz rises the six-towered Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mainz, one of the most important Romanesque structures along the Rhine. The 1000-year old cathedral was originally built in the Romanesque style, but over the last centuries, many other architectural elements have been added to the building, like Gothic windows and Baroque stone design. Another Mainz church worth visiting is St. Stephan’s Church, which is famous for its luminous stained glass windows in 8 different hues of blue, created by Russian Jewish artist Marc Chagall.
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