During a stroll through Bamberg you will quickly notice, here are countless churches that architecture lovers and lovers of church art can visit.
We visited some Bamberg churches and were very surprised how different and always beautiful they are.
Our Lady Parish Church (Upper Parish)
The parish church of Our Lady is better known in Bamberg as the Upper Parish. The Roman Catholic parish church got this name because of its location on the Kaulberg. There was, of course, also a Lower Parish, which was located on Maximilianplatz.
The construction of the three-nave church began around 1338. A building inscription on the north aisle indicates this date. Towards the end of the century, the choir probably began to be built. An inscription on the sacrament house supports this assumption. We know more about the roof of the church. The wooden beams used tell the experts that they were felled around the turn of the year 1419/20 and then processed. Today, experts assume that the church building was completed around 1450.
However, the tower was initially unfinished. There are mentions about a turret. The old turret room was replaced in 1537/38 by a two-story structure, which is still preserved today. A turret lived here until 1923.
In the course of the centuries, several renovations were carried out in the nave. For example, a will with a large donation of money made the baroqueization of the church possible, and around 1838 the sacristy had to be demolished due to structural damage.
During the Second World War, an aerial bomb hit the church tower, and the resulting damage was repaired.
Visit to the Upper Parish
During a tour around the Bamberg churches we also came to the Upper Parish. Here, in addition to the beautiful bridal portal on the north side, you can also see the sculptural group “Mount of Olives” from the 15th century.
Entering the church, the visitor stands in a baroque nave with a high choir, which was reshaped in the 18th century. The Gothic ambulatory remained almost completely untouched by the Baroque alterations. It is noticeable that the height of the ceiling of the central nave was lowered by 2 meters during this change. Originally, the nave was as high as the choir. The ceiling in the side aisles was lowered by one meter at this time.
To the right and left of the central aisle are figures made around 1480. At the height of the pulpit is the representation of Jesus Christ as Salvatore.
I am particularly impressed by the mighty high altar, which was consecrated in 1714. Six columns of marbled wood support the structure. In the upper part God the Father is enthroned, above him is the dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, below on the arms of Mary Jesus can be seen.
Beautiful is the pulpit from the early 17th century. I especially like the detailed ornamental carvings and the beautifully crafted sound cover above the pulpit.
Discover Bamberg churches: St. Stephan
St. Stephen’s Church is located in the old town of Bamberg. In 1020 Pope Benedict VIII consecrated the church in the presence of the imperial couple. In 1803 in the course of secularization the monastery dissolved. In 1808 the collegiate church was handed over to the Evangelical Lutheran parish. Today the church is Protestant and is considered the only Protestant church ever consecrated by a pope.
The present building does not date back to that time, only the ground plan reminds of the church from the past. The oldest preserved part is the tower with the roof from 1698.
When we visited the church, we immediately noticed the royal box. This is located in the western part of the church and was built into the church later for Crown Prince Maximilian and Princess Marie Frederike of Prussia. The couple spent a long time in the city and could thus follow the service undisturbed.
I find the design of the altar rather plain. The large altarpiece is beautiful. Something very special, I think, is the baptismal font of St. Stephen. However, whether I like it, I am really ambivalent.
On a metal ball sits naked the Christ child. On his lap lies the golden apple of dominion. The figure does not look like a healthy baby, it has a water head and bones protrude from the back. The figure’s glass eyes stare expressionlessly ahead, the mouth is slightly open. The child’s left hand is overlaid with what looks like a giant glove. This hand points with its overlong finger to the cross on the altar.
The Catholic Church of St. Martin is located in the city center.
After the Bamberg diocese took over the monastery grounds with the church from the Camelite order in 1589, the Jesuits moved in there in 1611. By 1686, they had not only acquired some adjacent land, but also demolished the old church. Now nothing stood in the way of a new church building.
It took a good 7 years for the building to be completed and consecrated. With the completion of the church tower in 1696, the foundation stone for the Jesuit College was laid at the same time. The position of the tower in the apex of the choir is still a characteristic feature of Jesuit church building today.
After the secularization in 1804, the Jesuit church became the parish church for the lower town.
When we visited the church, I was quite amazed at how bright it was. Numerous window areas with bright translucent glazing let daylight into the large interior. Even though some side altars catch the eye, I don’t find the decor too cluttered. The numerous paintings and the mock dome over the antechamber of the choir are impressive. Here I had to look twice until I realized that this is only painted.
The second oldest preserved church in the city is called St.Jakob and is located on Jakobsplatz.
The church building dates back to the time of Bishop Otto around 1109. At that time, the three-nave columned basilica still stood outside the city. It was located directly on the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela and represented the most important point of contact for pilgrims among Bamberg’s churches.