Plauen has some very beautiful churches, which can be easily visited during a city walk. We were in the Lutherkirche and the Johanniskirche, both of which are within easy walking distance from the old town.
Churches in Plauen: Luther Church
A visually quite unusual church from the outside, is the Luther Church in Plauen. The building is almost octagonal. Coming from the old town, a door leads into the church and directly opposite, on the side facing away from the old town, a door leads out of the church again. Why this is so, reveals the history of the church.
The church building was completed in 1722, making the Lutherkirche the second oldest church in Plauen. At that time the church was still called St.Bartholomäus, only in 1883 it was renamed Lutherkirche.
Originally, the church was located at the Neundorf Gate outside the city walls and was built as a cemetery church. Directly next to the church was the cemetery, which was built in 1548 and closed in 1866. From 1899, the cemetery was redesigned as Lutherplatz. During a funeral, the coffin was brought into the church through the small door coming from the old town. After the funeral service, the coffin was carried from the opposite side of the church directly to the cemetery.
In the beginning, the church was used exclusively for funerals. After the Battle of Leipzig (1813), the church was used as a military hospital. From 1849, the church began to be used as a preaching church and services were held.
In 1893 the Luthergemeinde was founded and the Lutherkirche became its parish church. Reconstruction measures turned a churchyard church into a parish church.
When you enter the church, the remarkable floor plan is particularly striking. I particularly like the two-story galleries, which are almost somewhat reminiscent of the structure of a theater.
The altar in the Luther Church is a late Gothic winged altar, dating from 1495. It is said to have been created by a master from Erfurt. Originally it stood in the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. When a new altar was erected there, this altar was much too good to be destroyed. So it came to Plauen as a gift from the local superintendent Deyling for the consecration of the church. Art connoisseurs will notice that the altar combines works from the late Gothic and late Renaissance periods. Thus, the altarpiece with the crucifixion painting was created in 1612, while the reliefs are much older and were created around 1495.
I like the church very much and I find the almost round shape of the interior really extraordinary.
St. John’s Church Plauen
One of the churches in Plauen is the imposing St. John’s Church, which is well visible in the city with its two prominent towers.
In 1122, the church building above the White Elster River is mentioned in documents for the first time. It is not known exactly what this church looked like.
In 1214, the Teutonic Order settled in Plauen. Only a few years later, the then bailiff donated the parish church to the order. Today it is assumed that the order extended the church further, some found Romanesque parts seem to confirm this. Around 1240/50 there is said to have been a church in Plauen which was the same size as today’s church. Even the 52 meter high towers are said to have existed. Around 1322, the Plauen bailiffs had a heptagonal burial chapel added, located between the choir and the north transept.
Numerous acts of war and fires destroyed St. John’s Church again and again over the years. But the church building was always rebuilt. The nave and transept were joined together and a three-nave hall church with a star vault and galleries was created. During further construction work, the towers received the distinctive hoods with open lanterns. These still characterize the building today. One of the towers can also be climbed at certain times.
In 1815, the interior of the church was repaired. As was customary at the time, the work was not exactly “monument-friendly”, and old wall paintings were painted over and handicraft elements were removed. A new pulpit, a new baptismal font and a new altar were built in the church.
During the Second World War, bombs damaged St. John’s Church. Reconstruction began in 1951. Great importance was attached to the last changes in the interior and exterior to build back as far as possible.
Entering the church through the north portal, one stands in a large and bright room. Above the visitor, the star vault arches on four octagonal pillars. I like it, even if it does not look as delicate as in other churches. It symbolizes God’s heaven and rises protectively above man.
The altar, a winged altar from the 16th century, comes from the church in Neustädtel. Under the altar area is a crypt in which Burgrave Henry IV is buried. This can not be visited.
The very deep baptismal font also dates from around 1500 and is located in the chancel at the front left. The basin was made so deep because at that time the newborn children were completely immersed in the water for baptism, in order to lift them out of the baptism into the new, eternal life.
I particularly like the pulpit. It originally comes from the Nikolaikirche in Görlitz and was created by a Görlitz sculptor around 1717. The pulpit is held by an angel. On the sound cover there are more angels with golden Israelite trumpets. If you look at the faces of the angels, you will see slightly transfigured looking angels. I like it. The door that closes the entrance to the pulpit is also beautiful.
During our visit we could see an exhibition in the church. In addition to church services, concerts are also held here regularly.