St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Michael’s Church in Hildesheim
St. Michael’s Church and St. Mary’s Cathedral in Hildesheim near Hannover are two outstanding examples of early-Romanesque architecture. Both churches symbolise the heyday of religious art in the Holy Roman Empire, exemplify the creative skill of Bishop Bernward and are blessed with a wealth of famous historical art treasures.
The first cathedral building on the site of Hildesheim’s St. Mary’s Cathedral was built as early as 872. One of the oldest episcopal churches in Germany and Europe, the triple-naved basilica was completed in 1061. In addition to its striking architecture, it also boasts impressive art treasures that simply must be seen, including the Bernward doors dating from 1015, which features depictions of the Salvation of Man, or the Column of Christ from 1020 showing the acts of Christ. Both date from the time of Bishop Bernward and are part of the UNESCO World Heritage site.The exterior walls of the cathedral also feature an interesting attraction: an ancient rose bush, which is said to be around 1,000 years old – the true emblem of the city of Hildesheim.
St. Michael’s Church was dedicated several decades before the cathedral in 1022. Considered by many to be the most beautiful early-Romanesque church in Germany, it is a masterpiece of medieval architecture and craftsmanship. The basilica, a nested building with many round and corner towers, is known by the locals simply as the ‘heavenly castle’. Highlights include the wooden ceiling dating from the 13th century. Here, in the central nave, unknown masters painted the Tree of Jesse on 1,300 oak boards. The only work of its kind north of the Alps, it is an outstanding testimony to Romanesque religious painting.
Hildesheim St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Michael’s Church
UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985
From the selection criteria
Key monuments of early Romanesque architecture.
The two buildings and their artistic treasures afford better and more immediate overall understanding
than any other decoration in Romanesque churches in the Christian West.