Ok, I’m going to tell you a secret. I have a thing for churches. Be it the stained glass, archways, pews, or the facade, I can’t restrain myself from photographing them. Maybe it’s because I spent the better part of my childhood inside a church, but there’s something familiar and comforting about these mammoth structures that draws me to them time and time again. I’ve been known to get up close and personal, practically hugging the front of a church, to get my perfect shot. So it should be no surprise that today I’m covering churches in Regensburg, Germany.
Below you’ll see the churches I visited while in Regensburg on my recent Danube river cruise with Viking River Cruises. These structures have held up to the ravages of time and destruction, including WWII through which fortunately, the city suffered minimal destruction. So today we’ll travel through history and time through photography.
St. Peters Cathedral (Regensburg Cathedral or the Dom): If you’re looking for the best example of a Gothic church, look no further than St. Peters Cathedral. This 13th century cathedral is hard to miss when walking around the city as its towering 344′ spire is a Regensburg landmark.
Construction of the cathedral took place from 1274-1520 where a Romanesque church once stood. Some portions of that old church were built into the current structure. The spires and upper portion of the church are 19th century additions. If you’ve been to Cologne, you might think this cathedral looks much like the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom), which it did until both cathedrals underwent major cleaning several years ago. When St. Peters was cleaned, different types of stone were discovered in the facade. A green sandstone was used for repairs in the 1800’s and were replaced with limestone from the Czech Republic to match the original stonework.
Inside the cathedral the aisles lead to the Altar of St. Ursula, the choir and High Altar, and the Sailer Chapel with the Nativity Altar. Although I didn’t get it to see it firsthand, there is a “Smiling Angel, a cheery angel that’s popular with church visitors and was sculpted around 1280.
Whether you go to view the stunning carved exterior, the 14th century stained glass windows with a few dating back to as far as 1220, the numerous paintings, or simply to listen to the boys choir (Domspatzen or the “Cathedral Sparrows”) during Sunday mass and holidays, you’ll be glad you went.
St. Peters Cathedral
Domplatz 1, 93047 Regensburg, Germany
St. Joseph (Karmelitenkloster Sankt Joseph) is a small church we paid a quick visit to while exploring Regensburg. This Carmelite church was built between 1641-1672 and is currently both a church and a monastery where you can attend services and purchase their liqueur. Of course, I couldn’t keep my hands off the light button under this box at the entrance of the church which depicts “Das kommen des heiligen Geistes” or “the coming of the Holy Spirit.”
The church itself wasn’t open and I had to take the one image above through the locked gate inside. But still — I had a chance to add this church to my overall church list that I’m keeping a tally of (no I’m not, but still…)
Karmelitenkloster Sankt Joseph
Alter Kornmarkt 7, 93047 Regensburg, Germany
I can see why tourists might overlook the Alte Kapelle because from the outside, the small church looks rather ordinary and unassuming. But step inside to be completely wowed by its amazing interior.Click To Tweet
We only had to walk a short distance from St. Peters Cathedral and St. Joseph to make our way over to Alte Kapelle, a beautiful cathedral suggested by Mr. Schmidt. Remember Mr. Schmidt? He’s the man on the street who basically took Karla and I by the hand and led us into the center of Regensburg. He told us that while tourists typically search out St. Peters Cathedral, it is the lesser known Alte Kapelle that he prefers. I can see why tourists might overlook the Alte Kapelle because from the outside, the small church looks rather ordinary and unassuming. But step inside to be completely wowed by its amazing interior.
Alte Kapelle or “Old Chapel” (also known as Our Dear Lady of the Old Chapel) is said to date back as far as to a Roman Juno Temple, but with medieval design elements still seen in some places. As such, we can assume it dates back to about 875 and the Early Middle Ages. During the 18th century, the entire church was redesigned in the Bavarian Rococo style. Let’s just say there is an abundance of white and gold opulence in the interior of the Alte Kapelle, but somehow it works and works well.
To say I walked in and my jaw hit the floor is an understatement. Anyone that knows me knows that I’m rarely left speechless, but the Alte Kapelle did just that to me. Karla and I walked around in complete silence while inspecting every corner and crevice. I’ve never seen a more beautiful church anywhere – really! It wasn’t only beautiful, but welcoming in a warm, comforting old blanket kind of way.
Look at the ceiling and paintings all around you on your visit to Alte Kapelle. But a word of warning: You might get dizzy trying to take it all in at once so take your time and enjoy the view.
During my visit I was able to catch a glimpse of the organ that was dedicated by Pope Benedict XVI back in 2006 when he visited Regensburg.
TSG Tip: Did you know that this organ is the only one ever blessed by the Pope in person?
Only after I came home did I learn that the Alte Kapelle is considered a “Marian” church. I didn’t know what that was so here’s a description:
Roman Marian churches are religious buildings dedicated to the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These churches were built throughout the history of the Catholic Church, and today they can be found on every continent except Antarctica. The history of Marian church architecture tells the unfolding story of the development of Roman Catholic Mariology.
Here’s another somewhat easier explanation:
A Marian Church is a Church which makes a choice for compassion over competition; an option for relationship over dogmatism; for humility over power; for service over dominance.
So one might say I was destined to visit this church!
Scroll through the pics above to check out the intricate detail found in some of these close ups. Crazy detailed work!
TSG Tip: While you might be familiar with the phrase, “the devil is in the details,” that has more to do with mistakes made in work. The phrase, “God is in the details” works best here because attention paid to small things has big rewards or that details are important.
After enjoying lunch at Regensburger Weissbrauhaus, we stumbled upon the south entrance of the Alte Kapelle. This is where we were able to see some remnants of its medieval past like the Romanesque portal.
Schwarze-Bären-Straße 7, 93047 Regensburg, Germany
Do you like to visit churches, cathedrals, and other places of worship on your travels? How important is understanding local history when you travel?