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Thursday, March 31, 2011



Marktkirche, Town Hall and the Passion Altarpiece in Hannover
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The Marktkirche ("The Church on the Marketplace") of Saints Geroge and James (St. Georg und St. Jakobus) is the main Lutheran church in Hannover. Built in the fourteenth century, it represents one of the finest exemplars of the brick Gothic style of Northern Germany (Norddeutsche Backsteingotik). The use of baked red brick in Northern Germany dates from the 12th. Century. Most of the buildings in this style are to be found much further north than Hannover, primarily in the Hanseatic cities of the Baltic Sea coast. The Town Hall of Hannover (Rathaus) next to the Marktkirche is another fine exemplar of the style and, together with the large tower of the church, signals the wealth and power of the citizens of the town in the Middle Ages.

The church roof and the vaults of its naves were destroyed in an air raid in 1943 and rebuilt in to the same plan in 1952.

The church is built on a "Hallenkirche" design, which means that the aisles on both sides of the church are of the same height as the middle nave. Above the three naves rises a monumental saddleback roof. This type of architectural design is found only in the German Gothic.

St. James (Santiago) as Pilgrim

There are references since 1238 of a Romanesque predecessor building named after St. George in the location of the present church. The foundations were discovered during excavations undertaken in 1952 when the church was rebuilt. But the denomination ecclesia Sanctorum Jacobi et Georgii dates from 1342. Jacob (Santiago) was a popular patron of pilgrims and merchants in the Middle Ages. An Appeal for Donations to construct an addition to the Romanesque church was published in 1344 and by 1347 the foundations of the tower were being laid out. In 1349, the demolition of the old church was authorized and the church was consecrated in 1360. The original stained glass windows were completed and installed as early as 1340.

Hannover Town Hall (Rathaus)

The Passion Altarpiece

The altarpiece of the Marktkirche was constructed in 1480 on the basis of models prepared by the famous artist, craftsman and engraver, Martin Schongauer (1448-1491). It is entirely carved from the wood of the lime-trees. It survived the bombing raids of the Second World War and was restored to the church in 1952.

Martin Schongauer of Colmar

The two wings of the altarpiece contain twenty-one representations from the Passion of Jesus. At the bottom are several medallions with the heads of the prophets. The fourth one from the left depicts the head of St. James wearing glasses.

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