An austere façade, elaborate interior and interesting history make this one of the most rewarding churches to visit in Luebeck Old Town.
Marienkirche (St. Mary’s Church) stands as a symbol of Luebeck’s fascinating and ever-changing history. It bears testament to the architectural talents of the city’s founding fathers and its role as the center of the Hanseatic League. It presents a showcase of Gothic and Baroque art while also bearing the scars of World War II bomb damage. St. Mary's Church is the third-largest church in Germany and one that inspired dozens of national churches.
Henry the Lion established a Romanesque church in the 12th century and it took on a Gothic appearance from the mid-13th century. This stood until 1942, when British bombers set the city on fire and destroyed many of the major landmarks. Today’s structure is a meticulous Gothic-style reconstruction. Gaze up at the twin towers, which soar to a height of almost 410 feet (125 meters), and then spot a statue of the devil in the churchyard.
The sublime high-vaulted interior has three aisles, each separated by rows of huge arches, and multiple side chapels. Marvel at the intricate carvings that adorn the winged Antwerp altarpiece. On the chancel walls are reliefs by Heinrich Barbender. There’s also an astronomical clock, which performs a midday parade of figurines, plus numerous stained-glass windows.
Beneath the south tower are the relics of two iron bells that sit exactly as they fell during the night of the bomb raid. The heat from the fire caused by the bombs exposed a series of medieval frescoes. Art restorer Dietrich Fey hired Lothar Malskat to help recreate the frescoes. Both Fey and Malskat were imprisoned for forgery after Malskat admitted to applying his own work to the clerestory due to a lack of authentic documentation to follow.
The church is situated in the heart of Luebeck Old Town. The most convenient way to get here is on foot, although public buses stop nearby. There’s a car park located less than a 5-minute walk to the north.
St. Mary's Church is open daily and there is an admission fee. Entrance is free during services. Paid guided tours are possible. Visit the church’s official website for more information.