The gothic quarter and its churches
The economic boom in the days of the Hanse resulted in a wealthy middle class who wanted to prove its social and political significance through impressive and imposing buildings.
In the course of a few years a certain style of architecture emerged and spread through the Baltic area, appropriately named “North German red-brick Gothicism”.
Red bricks are made of clay, which is moulded into shape by hand and baked. This simple material was used by the hard-building townsfolk to build the defiant town walls, proud, imaginative Giebelhäuser (Gable House), and the monumental sacred masterpieces that define Wismar’s unique character today.
St. Georgen is one of the three main churches of Wismar and a significant artifact of north German red-brick architecture. Originally built for craftsmen and tradesmen, its origins are to be found in the first half of the thirteenth century. Its construction can be traced back to the eventful Middle Ages and the days of the Reformation. In the 100 years of its construction, the church was often altered, but finally completed in 1594. During World War II St. Georgen, like so many other monuments, was severely damaged. Reparation and restoration work began in 1990 and was completed in 2010/2011.
This building style is fascinating for its raw but affectionate charm. St. Marien, St. Nikolai and St. Georgen tower above the rest of Wismar’s architecture as imposing cultural heritage and historical artefacts. The author Ricarda Huch, in awe of these constructions, wrote: “The buildings of Wismar tell us more than just history, the massive sillhouettes of St. Marien and St. Georgen near the market, and St. Nikolai near the harbour rise up as if to surpass all other churches nearby.
At 37m, the central aisle is the fourth highest in Germany. Construction began in the 14th century, and although the church remains mostly intact today, the tower originally boasted a slender ridge turret, which collapsed and was destroyed in a storm in 1703, damaging large parts of the interior. This explains why certain elements of the church were replaced in the baroque style.
Before the Second World War, when the church was first damaged, St. Marien, whose tower at 80m high, was visible from far away at sea, was supposedly one of the most beautiful churches in Northern Germany. In 1960, the bulk of the damaged church was blown up.
In all likelihood the council church was built in the first half of the thirteenth century, after which another, larger church was constructed around the original structure in the fourteenth century.
One of the most impressive elements of the church is the clock, which boasts a diameter of 5m. At 12pm, 3pm and 7pm every day the bells ring in one of 14 different chorals.
guided tour to the top of the tower
Exhibition: Introduction to «Red Brick Gothic»
Heiligen-Geist-Kirche (Church of the Holy Spirit)
Although the date of its original construction remains unknown, the Heiligen-Geist-Kirche as it stands today in its rectangular, gothic style was built in the 15th century, incorporating certain elements of the original form. The interior of the single-nave church is overlooked by an ornamental wooden ceiling, showing intricate illustrations of scenes from the Old Testament dating back to 1687. The court yard offers the best view of the church and the Langes Haus (long house) which was originally used as a hospital but later served as an old people’s home.
For more information about the European route of red-brick gothic architecture, follow this link: www.eurob.org