How do the 5 main churches differ?

Hamburg's main churches are so worth seeing

Status: 04.06.2019 16:26 | archive
The towers of the five churches look quite different, but are all relatively high.

Their towers shape the cityscape - the five main churches of Hamburg: The slim, towering tower of the Petrikirche stands on Mönckebergstrasse. The Jacobikirche with its modern spire rises on Steinstrasse just a few steps away. The tower of the Katharinenkirche can be easily recognized by its window-like openings. Only the neo-Gothic tower remains of the Nikolaikirche, the main church itself was destroyed in the Second World War and is now in a modern building in the Harvestehude district. The tower of the Michaeliskirche is best known, because the "Michel" is a landmark of the Hanseatic city to this day.

All towers are open to visitors

All five church towers are exceptionally high: the Nikolaikirchturm is even the fifth highest in the world at 147 meters, the other four are still among the 30 highest worldwide. Visitors can climb all five towers. Only Michel and St. Nikolai can do this comfortably by elevator.

Every church has its particularity

St. Petri and St. Jacobi (right) are only a few hundred meters apart.

Each of the five main churches is worth a visit, because each has one or more special features that make it unmistakable. The Michel stands out as a magnificent baroque building, its huge white and gold interior with curved galleries looks completely different from the interior of the other four medieval churches. St. Jacobi, on the other hand, is particularly rich in art treasures. In addition to the precious Schnitger organ from 1693, the largest baroque organ in Northern Europe, there are three artistically carved wooden altars. The St. Nikolai memorial is Hamburg's central place of remembrance of the victims of war and tyranny between 1933 and 1945 and as such is worth a visit alone. What is impressive about St. Katharinen is the contrast between modern art treasures and medieval architecture. At the Petrikirche, the ascent to the tower is particularly attractive. Visitors get right to the top and can look over Hamburg through small porthole windows.

Five churches, five different parishes

As much as the churches differ optically, the social status of the parishioners was also once different: "St. Petri de Rieken, Niklas desglieken, Katharinen de Finen, Jacobi de Buren, Michel de Armen, de may God have mercy." This ancient verse from the 18th century characterizes the parishioners of the five main churches. Accordingly, it was mainly the rich who flocked to the Church of St. Peter and St. Nicholas. The Katharinenkirche was the church of the shipbuilders and merchants, which also belonged to the wealthy, the "Finen". The Jacobikirche, on the other hand, tended to attract the rural population. The Michel, which was built in the new town in front of the former gates in the 17th century, was mainly for the poorer population.

Fires and wars hit the churches

St. Michaelis is the youngest of the five main churches and at the same time the most famous.

The four medieval parishes or parishes of St. Petri, St. Nikolai, St. Jacobi and St. Katharinen also corresponded to the urban administrative districts. With the Reformation, the once Catholic churches became main Protestant churches. From 1647 another main church was added with St. Michaelis. As a result of the Great Fire of 1842, the construction of the Speicherstadt and other urban changes, Hamburg's main churches lost large parts of their original parishioners. Fires and especially the bombings in World War II severely damaged the churches. Today they see themselves as churches for the whole city and their offers are aimed at all interested visitors. The five main churches in portrait:

St. Petri - Hamburg's oldest church

The Petrikirche, one of Hamburg's five main churches, is located directly on Mönckebergstrasse. Those who climb the 544 steps to the tower will be rewarded with a great view. more

St. Nikolai - From church to memorial

St. Nikolai was destroyed in the bombing war in 1943. Only the 147 meter high tower remained, which today functions as a memorial together with the ruins. An elevator goes up to the tower. more

St. Katharinen: old church, new part of town

In the Middle Ages, St. Katharinen was the church of Hamburg's shipbuilders and beer brewers. Her tower was allegedly decorated with gold from Störtebeker's treasure. Today it is close to the Hafencity. more

The tallest churches in the world

1. Ulm Minster (161.50 meters)
2. Notre-Dame de la Paix basilica, Ivory Coast (158 meters)
3. Cologne Cathedral (157 meters)
4. Rouen Cathedral, France (151 meters)
5. St. Nikolai, Hamburg (147.30 meters)
6. Strasbourg Cathedral, France (142 meters)
7. Basilica of Our Lady of Licheń, Poland (141.50 meters)
8.Stephen's Cathedral Vienna, Austria (136 meters)
9. New Cathedral Linz, Austria (135 meters)
10. St. Peter's Basilica, Rome (132.50 meters)
11. St. Petri, Hamburg (132.20 meters)
12. St. Michaelis, Hamburg (132.10 meters)
13. St. Martin, Landshut (130 meters)
14. San Gaudenzio, Novara, Italy (126 meters)
15. St. Jacobi, Hamburg (125.40 meters)