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.
Due to renovation work for the anniversary of the diocese, the cathedral will be closed until August 2014. The legendary 1,000-year-old rose bush at the cathedral apse and the cloister are still open to the public. The Column of Christ, Bernward doors and other works of art are temporarily on display at other locations in Hildesheim.
Reopening of Hildesheim Cathedral after restoration, followed by a week of festivities (15 to 22 August 2014)
Tip for your visit
Take a self-guided tour through Hildesheim following the rose cobblestones that point the way to Hildesheim's places of interest.
April to October: daily at 2pm; November to March: Wednesday at 2pm and Saturday and Sunday at 11am
The following tours are also available in a number of different languages:
• Introduction to Hildesheim
• Highlights of art and architectural history
• Paths to the Romanesque
• On the trail of Bishop Bernward
• Bronze statues from the Middle Ages to the present day
• Abbeys and monasteries in Hildesheim
• Organ walks
• Living history: town guides in historical costume accompany you through the various periods of Hildesheim's history.
Further information: www.hildesheim.de