Saturday, July 26, 2014

2014 Germany Trip - Neumünster Church (Kolegiatstift Neumünster)

Location: Würzburg, Germany

Itinerary and full experience of my visit to Germany can be accessed through the link below:


I mistakenly thought that this was Würzburg Cathedral, and toured around with that in mind. It wasn't until I was back and checked the photos online that I realized my humbling error. Yet to me it wasn't surprising, even in hindsight, to have made such a mistake. Its façade looked authentically medieval compared to the recently renovated cathedral next door. Even more convincing was the trove of frescoes and artwork adorning the halls of the church, cementing my faith that I was in the cathedral when I was in reality standing within the halls of Neumünster Church.

Curvature

Wedged between two contrastingly unappealing buildings, the Baroque front of the church is much more recent, built in the 18th century, compared to the Romanesque cathedral which dated back to 11th century. Its ornate and curved façade is immediately recognizable.

Interestingly, while the Würzburg Cathedral was named as St Killian's Cathedral as a dedication to the martyr, the Irish' grave was within Neumünster Church. He and his missionary friends were assassinated in 689, and the spot on which they were killed became the foundation for this church.

Like the rest of the medieval churches in Würzburg, Neumünster Church too had witnessed the ravages of war and the unforgiving flow of history. The Second World War had damaged Würzburg Cathedral more than the church, but even so, its northern choir stall, facilities in the dome region and numerous paintings were irreparably damaged.

Compared to the cathedral next door, the church exuded more of an aura of history, its curved Baroque sandstone façade with intricate carvings and statuettes lent a complexity to the overall Romanesque architecture. Although the building was constructed in 1060, numerous additions and renovations on the church had further lent it a complex mixture of architectures. The extravagant Baroque façade, added in 1710 - 1716, was a good example of this.

Façade

I ascended the steps and entered another world within the church. The pristine white interior of the church was adorned with beautifully painted frescoes and paintings, all of which were very recent additions. Various depictions of holy themes stared down from the heavens, which in this church, were vaulted ceilings. The marvellous artworks culminated at the altar where gilded pieces threatened to glare me in the eyes.

Frescoes above

This breathtaking view awed me into stupor when I entered the church and stared at the arts looking down from the literal heavens.

Organism

The organ is situated above the entrance to the church.

Altar

Three

Three (again)

Candles in the Wind

Heavens

The most extensive frescoes are those situated under the domed ceiling.

Heavens 2

Dual tone

In focus

The lady

Presenting live

Ray of sunshine, glimmer of hope

After spending a significant amount of time checking the various artworks in the church, I spied some visitors emerging from a staircase leading down. Out of curiosity, my adventurous side decided to wander down to have a look. It seemed that the church had a crypt below, albeit a clean and modern one, unlike those scary ones from horror movies.

The patron saint of the church, St Killian, had his remains kept in this crypt in a bronze box altar. I found that the artworks did not end with the church above as a few intriguing artworks existed below here as well. One of them was a modern contemporary art, featuring a fellow hovering against an illusionary background. Seemed rather out of place with the rest of the arts featuring Renaissance themes.

Into the unknown

Subterranean

This underground chamber is St Killian's Crypt, and despite the well lit space, it could still be a little creepy to be alone down here for long.

Treasure box

This is the box altar where the patron saints remains were kept. The carvings of its sides showed the life of Jesus.

Candlelight virgil

Yoga illusions

This is the contemporary art which I mentioned, made in 1993 by Michael Triegel. Ironically the coffin in front of it was the original one used to collect the patron saints remains upon his death, forming a chronologically contradicting pair.

Empty

Makes you wonder what crawled out... The stone sarcophagus and its cover with a cross carved into it were artefacts from the 9th century and were recovered from Kiliansplatz. The painting behind them featured 'The Lamentation of Christ'.

Peace

A final look above as I climbed out of the crypt.

The eerie atmosphere of the crypt coupled with the fact that the remaining few wanderers down here left, I quickly climb back up the stairs and bade the church farewell. Next up will be my final target in my Würzburg travel: Marienberg Fortress.









Environment:         A beautiful church
Suitable for:            Religious and art appreciators
Visit worthiness:   9/10 (the frescoes are most worthy of your time)
Historical value:        5.0/5.0
Architectural value:  5.0/5.0
Photographic value: 4.0/5.0
Landmark value:       4.5/5.0

Entrance Fee:                 free
Opening Hours:             (Sun & Pub Holidays)     7.00 a.m. - 7.00 p.m. 
                                              (weekdays & Sat)           6.00 a.m. - 7.00 p.m.
Best Moment to Visit:  Early in the day when there are less people, beware of mass when you could not visit freely
Length of Visit:              1 hour

Website:                   http://www.neumuenster-wuerzburg.de/

Contact:                    +49 (0) 931 - 386 -628 - 00
E-mail:                      dompfarramt@bistum-wuerzburg.de
Address:                   Dompfarramt, Domerpfarrgasse 10, 97070 Würzburg




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