I’m generally not a huge fan of churches as a tourist attraction. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them in moderation, but visits to Europe are often all about which old church is next on the itinerary. That gets reasonably tiring to me after a couple hours. So when we made plans to visit Hildesheim, Germany so we could explore the churches there I was a bit suspect.
Hildesheim is home to several churches which are also part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making the visit a bit more palatable to me. And, quite frankly, after touring the sites I hadn’t become the glazed over, zoned out zombie I usually am. Maybe that is attributable to the weather and maybe because these were different and better somehow. But it was a better visit than most.
St. Michael’s is probably the most famous of the local churches and also one of the oldest. It was built between 1010-1020 and very much reflects the architecture of the day. It was destroyed during WWII and rebuilt after the war; fortunately, the ceiling inside was saved from destruction and put back in place after the renovations. That was quite impressive.
There is simply a ton of history spanning hundreds of years in St. Michael’s. And there is a decent juxtaposition of modern there, too. The church is still used today and things like the new pipe organ lend an interesting contrast to the 1000 years of history there.
St. Mary’s is closed for renovations right now, meaning we couldn’t get inside. There is a 1000 year old rose bush there which is still apparently on display but with the construction and such we didn’t spend much time trying to figure that out. Looking at the church from the outside, however, it was easy to see the many generations of construction which went into the building, starting with Romanesque and proceeding through Gothic and ultimately Baroque.
Underrated in my opinion, mostly because the other UNESCO churches overshadow it. Godehard has a great location towards the edge of town, giving it a bit more space and better views. Also, Godehard wasn’t particularly destroyed in WWII making most of the structure there the original deal. The ceiling and candelabras were also most impressive.
More Gothic than Romanesque, St. Andreas fits in well with the rest of the old churches in town. And the fact that it is basically right in the heart of the city doesn’t hurt that, either. It is the most central of the medieval churches and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t actually open when we stopped inside, but the door was open so we went in anyways.
Church of the Holy Cross
This church, just around the corner from St. Andreas, carries three eras of history, all rolled into one. The center aisle is Romanesque, one side is Gothic and the other side Baroque. The mishmash of styles are visible both outside and in.
Part of the reason I think I didn’t fatigue from the churches is that we did the whole loop in just a few hours. It is a small town and the longest walk was about 15 minutes. Plus none of them are particularly huge buildings. Overall it was a great day exploring history.
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