New splendour for one of Germany's oldest episcopal churches: the renovated Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary in Hildesheim is a successful synergy of old and new. It acts as a major stage for valuable art treasures with a modest backdrop. A UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site shrouded in legend...
Sometimes it's the tiniest of events that make it into the history books. Legend has it that a valuable reliquary was hung in a rose bush to celebrate Mass here in around 815. When Louis the Pious went to find it, it could no longer be removed from the hedge. The Emperor took this as a sign from God, and had a chapel built there in honour of the Mother of God.
The chapel no longer exists, but the Thousand-year Rose still lives and grows as an emblem of the bishopric and the city of Hildesheim. The cathedral with its clearly defined Romanesque architecture – a worthy framework for the cathedral's treasures – is also one of the city's main landmarks. The Bernward Doors, double-leaved bronze doors at the cathedral's western entrance which are ornately decorated with biblical figures, are particularly eye-catching. The around 1,000-year-old Hezilo chandelier, the largest preserved chandelier from the Middle Ages, is also impressive, and the baptismal font next to the chandelier, dating back some 600 years, is utterly stunning. Around 1,200 years ago, baptisms were held in the present-day crypt – the oldest part of the cathedral. The cathedral offers a great space for meditation for pilgrims and visitors on a quest for self-discovery. The treasury, one of the world's most prominent collections of sacred art, is housed in the Cathedral Museum, which forms part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm; Saturday, 10am to 4:30pm; Sunday, 12pm to 5:30pm
Nearest train station: Hildesheim
For individual tours, including themed tours (available in eight languages): www.dom-hildesheim.de
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