Main Church of Sankt Katharinen (Hamburg)

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Main church Sankt Katharinen in Hamburg
Stereoscopy number 871 as a postcard with a view over the Nikolaifleet towards St. Katharinen;
Knackstedt & Näther , around 1900
Saint Catherine (2013)

Sankt Katharinen is one of the five main churches in Hamburg . Its tower shaft from the 13th century is considered to be the oldest upright building in Hamburg that still fulfills its function. It is located opposite the Speicherstadt on the Bei den Mühren road and is considered the seamen's church due to its proximity to the harbor .


The church, first mentioned in a document from 1256, was the center of the community on the Elbe islands of Grimm , Cremon , Brook , Wandrahm and Kehrwieder . The new building of the nave was completed around 1450. Between 1566 and 1568, the tower facade was painted in color by the painter Daniel Freese, who was based in Hamburg at the time . The painting Judgment of Solomon as pillar clothing also came from the artist . The three-aisled Gothic pseudo-basilica with ambulatory has an axis shifted to the north compared to the tower. The central nave is 29 meters high.

Until the 16th century, the ships had individual roofs that were replaced by a common roof. Because of the poor subsoil of the Elbmarsch, there were numerous subsidence that had to be intercepted by wall anchors , one shows the year 1660. During the carnival flood on February 14, 1648 , the tower was destroyed. The baroque tower spire built in 1657 with several steps bears the crown of St. Catherine . It was donated by Hermann Rentzel and, according to legend, made from Klaus Störtebeker's gold treasure .

The customs connection agreement of May 25, 1881 with the construction of the Speicherstadt resulted in the forced relocation of around 20,000 people and a massive downsizing of the parish of St. Katharinen. To compensate for this, the working-class district of Hammerbrook was re-parish to St. Katharinen in 1887. This in turn led to discussions about the preservation of the Katharinenkirche or a relocation, which only came to an end with the construction of the St. Anne's Church as an additional church for Hammerbrook in 1898–1901 (architect Fernando Lorenzen ).

Both St. Annen and St. Katharinen were largely destroyed by the bombing raids at the end of July 1943 . While the ruins of St. Annen were demolished in the 1950s, St. Katharinen, of which only the outer walls and the tower shaft were essentially preserved, was rebuilt between 1950 and 1956 (architects Hopp & Jäger ) due to this the lack of money in the community, however, is insufficient. In 1957 the destroyed, 116.7 meter high tower was restored with a steel structure in the shape of the 17th century.

As the church that is close to and responsible for the HafenCity urban development project , it was extensively renovated between 2007 and 2012. After the buttresses had been rebuilt, the masonry was replaced and the copper roof was renewed, the organ, which had been destroyed in 1943, was restored in 2013.


The interior of the church has largely been recreated after the destruction. The Crucifixion of Christ is a painting by the Hamburg painter Wilm Dedeke around 1500. Two wooden sculptures date from the 14th century and were newly acquired, but are from a South German school. The windows designed in 1908 by the Hamburg artist and heather painter Hermann de Bruycker were also not preserved . For the church, the painter Ingeborg zu Schleswig-Holstein created the picture cycle Weg ins Licht on loan from 1984 to 1986, consisting of 24 panel paintings and twelve rosettes for the upper storey . This cycle could be seen there until the restoration work began in 2007. Hans-Gottfried von Stockhausen created particularly valuable works of glass art in 1956 with the window in the east choir "Wachet, calls us the voice" and in 1957 with the north window "Annunciation to the Shepherds". Unfortunately, the north window is now so covered by the new choir organ that you can no longer see it in all its glory.

The extensions correspond to the original character, but have been supplemented in a modern form. The baroque door portals come from old Hamburg merchants' houses.

Tower dome

The Plauen carpenter Peter Marquard created the baroque hood , his brother Joachim Marquard the tower structure of the St. Mary's Church in Zwickau . The Petrikirche in Riga has an identical church tower from the Marquard workshop .


Main organ

Historic organ around 1900
Flentrop organ from 2013

The first evidence of an organ comes from around 1400 when a bellows treadmill is mentioned. For the year 1433 a capital raising for the organ is proven. Marten de Mare made a renovation in 1520. In 1534 there is talk of a small organ. In 1543 a partially new building followed by Gregorius Vogel (III / 43), Hendrik Niehoff and Jasper Johannson added a Rückpositiv in 1551/1552 . Between 1559 and 1591, the leading organ builder family Scherer worked on the organ, which was considered the most important instrument in Hamburg at the time. With further modifications in the course of the 17th century, it was expanded to a total of 58 registers and four manuals. Gottfried Fritzsche rebuilt the organ from 1630 to 1631, presumably adding the breastwork with seven voices, which was played by the third manual (Oberwerk). In all three manual keyboards Fritzsche probably set up four divided upper keys (sub-semitonies) to expand the mean-tone temperature . Friedrich Stellwagen (1644–1647), Hans Christoph Fritzsche (1670–1671, unfinished), Johann Friedrich Besser (1671–1674) and Joachim Richborn (1664–1675) carried out further modifications and extensions.

In 1720 Johann Sebastian Bach played the organ in front of the town's dignitaries, whose tongue registers he valued very much; his fugue in G minor (BWV 542/2) may be based on an improvisation at this event.

“In the St. Catharine Church Organ in Hamburg there are even 16 pipe works . The soul. Capelmeister, Mr. JS Bach in Leipzig, who once spent two hours on this, as he said, excellent works in all pieces, could not boast enough about the beauty and diversity of the sound of these pipe works. [...]
The soul. Mr. Kapellmeister Bach in Leipzig, assured a similar good and thoroughly audible speech down to the lowest C, by the 32-footed principal and the trombone in the pedal of the Catharine organ in Hamburg: but he also said that this principal was the only one so large of this good quality, that he would have heard. "

- Johann Friedrich Agricola : Musica Mechanica Organoedi. Berlin 1768

From the historic organ, which was largely destroyed in 1943, 1016 pipes were initially preserved. When the organ was built by Emanuel Kemper in 1962 , 520 pipes from 20 registers were still in use. In the course of the church renovation, the Kemper organ was dismantled in 2008 and, with the exception of the historic pipes, sold to Jastrzębia Góra in Poland. Together with photos of the external system and a documentation created before 1943, these formed the starting point for a scientifically responsible reconstruction of the instrument. The organ was completed by the Flentrop company in 2013. The lost pipework, the play system and the historical prospectus were reconstructed without copying the organ from 1720. On the basis of a preserved dimensional drawing and old photos, Christiane Sandler's studio in Augsburg designed the carving in the Renaissance style, but as an independent reproduction. The Rückpositiv was inaugurated on Easter Sunday 2009 after an initial construction phase. From September 2012 the three other manual works and the pedal towers were installed. The parish raised 3.2 million euros in donations for the project, which was supported by the "Johann Sebastian Foundation - an organ for Bach" founded in 2005. The inauguration took place on June 9, 2013.

The prospectus is drawn from the transition period from the late Renaissance to the early Baroque. In the gallery parapet is the Rückpositiv in a reduced form of the main work. Both housings are characterized by a round central tower and on the outside by pointed towers that are connected by two-storey flat fields. Two mighty polygonal pedal towers, crowned by angels blowing trumpets, flank the manual works. All pipe fields have carved veils and are finished with richly profiled cornices. The disposition reflects the state as reported by Johann Mattheson in 1720. However, a manual coupler and three stops have been added (viol 8 ′ and Octava 4 ′ in the upper section and trumpet 8 ′ in the main section), so that the organ has 61 stops. The manual ranges have been expanded and the original mid-tone tuning has not been set.

I Rückpositiv CD – d 3
1. Principal 8th'
2. Dumped 8th'
3. Quintadena 8th'
4th Octave 4 ′
5. Hollow flute 4 ′
6th recorder 4 ′
7th Fifth flute 1 13
8th. Sifflöt 1'
9. Sharp VIII
10. Sesquialtera II
11. shelf 8th'
12. Oboe d'amore 8th'
13. Schalmey 4 ′
II main work CD – d 3
14th Principal 16 ′
15th Quintadena 16 ′
16. Drone 16 ′
17th octave 8th'
18th Pointed flute 8th'
19th Flauto traverso 8th'
20th Octave 4 ′
21st octave 2 ′
22nd Rauschpfeife II
23. Mixture X
24. Trumpet 16 ′
25th Trumpet 8th'
III Oberwerk CD – d 3
26th Principal 8th'
27. Hollow flute 8th'
28. Viola di gamba 8th'
29 flute 4 ′
30th Octava 4 ′
31. Nasat 2 23
32. Forest flute 2 ′
33. Gemshorn 2 ′
34. Sharp VI
35. Trumpet 8th'
36. Zincke 8th'
37. Trumpet 4 '
IV breastwork CD – d 3
38. Principal 8th'
39. Octave 4 ′
40. Quintadena 4 ′
41. Forest whistle 2 ′
42. Sharp VII
43. Dulcian 16 ′
44. shelf 8th'
Pedal CD – d 1
45. Principal 32 ′
46. Principal 16 ′
47. Sub bass 16 ′
48. Octave 8th'
49. Dumped 8th'
50. Octave 4 ′
51. Night horn 4 ′
52. Rauschpfeife II
53. Mixture V
54. Cimbel III
55. Big Trumpet 32 ′
56. trombone 16 ′
57. Dulcian 16 ′
58. Trumpet 8th'
59. Krummhorn 8th'
60. Schalmey 4 ′
61. Cornet bass 2 ′
  • Pair : III / II, IV / III, I / P
  • 3 tremulants (for the whole organ and for I + IV separately)
  • 2 cymbal stars
  • Mood :
    • Altitude a 1 = 465 Hz at 20 ° C
    • uneven mood (Bach waiter)

Choir organ

K-shaped prospectus of the choir organ

Detlef Kleuker created a choir organ in 1984 which is used as an accompanying instrument for the liturgical events in the choir . The prospectus in the form of a K recalls the names of the church, the organ builder and the sponsor Otto Krahn. During an overhaul in 2001 by OBM Erbslöh, the original cornet in the swell was divided (into fifths and thirds) and the pedal trombone 16 'was replaced by an 8' trumpet, so that the organ now has 15 stops, which are divided into two manuals and Pedal are distributed. In addition, the organ received a well-tempered mood .

I Hauptwerk C – g 3
1. Principal flute 8th'
2. Praestant 4 ′
3. recorder 2 ′
4th Mixture V 4 ′
5. Trumpet en chamade 8th'
II Swell C – g 3
6th Dumped 8th'
7th Flûte harmonique 4 ′
8th. Fifth 2 23
9. Principal 2 ′
10. third 1 35
11. Cymbal III
12. Hautbois 8th'
Pedal C – f 1
13. Sub bass 16 ′
14th Gemshorn 8th'
15th Trumpet 8th'
  • Coupling: II / I, I / P, II / P


Church musician

Famous organists such as Heinrich Scheidemann and Johann Adam Reincken were employed in Sankt Katharinen and arranged for the organ to be expanded. As musical director seemed Georg Philipp Telemann from 1721 in Hamburg. Amandus Eberhard Rodatz was the organist of this church until 1836. Engelhard Barthe (1906–1977) was the organist from 1931 until the destruction in 1943 , after the reconstruction in 1956 Thomas Dittmann (1931–1998) was appointed, who re-established the choir work in this church. In 1994 Andreas Fischer took over this position, who campaigned for the reconstruction of the historical organ.


The church tower houses a five-part bronze bell with a historic bell. The big bell from 1626 is the largest surviving bell from the foundry Hans Nuessel. It is usually only performed as a soloist on Good Friday and at funerals. The four smaller bells were cast by Friedrich Wilhelm Schilling in Heidelberg in 1957 .

  • Soli Deo Gloria (alone God be honor ') , tone f °, weight 6,500 kg, cast in 1626 by Hans Nüssel
  • Jubilate (Jauchzet) , tone c ', weight 2,700 kg, cast in 1957 by Schilling in Heidelberg
  • Cantate (Singet) , tone e ', weight 1,330 kg, cast in 1957 by Schilling in Heidelberg
  • Rogate (Pray) , tone g ', weight 900 kg, cast in 1957 by Schilling in Heidelberg
  • Exaudi (hear) , tone a ', weight 650 kg, cast in 1957 by Schilling in Heidelberg


Individual evidence

  1. Michael Gottlieb Steltzner : Attempt to Get Reliable Information on the Ecclesiastical and Political Condition of the City of Hamburg In the New Times, from Käyser Ferdinand II. Bit on the times of Käyser Leopold I, Third Part. Hamburg 1733, OCLC 315193645 , p. 719–720 ( digitized on the website of the Hamburg State and University Library [accessed on March 13, 2015]).
  2. ^ Eckart Kleßmann : History of the City of Hamburg . Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 1981, DNB  810240998 , OCLC 7838115 , p. 177 .
  3. Highest monument award for St. Katharinen , accessed on May 6, 2016.
  4. Günter Seggermann, Alexander Steinhilber, Hans-Jürgen Wulf: The organs in Hamburg . Ludwig, Kiel 2019, ISBN 978-3-86935-366-1 , pp. 110 .
  5. ^ Ibo Ortgies : Gottfried Frietzsch and the Subsemitones in the Large Organ of Hamburg, St. Catherine's. In: Johann Norrback, Joel Speerstra, Ralph Locke (eds.): Festschrift for Prof. Kerala J. Snyder (= GOArt Publications. Vol. 4). Göteborgs universitet, Göteborg 2019, 13 pp. Online (PDF: 1.8 MB). The subsemitonies were removed again during the renovation in 1671–1674.
  6. ^ Christoph Wolff , Markus Zepf: The organs of JS Bach. A manual . Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2006, ISBN 3-374-02407-6 , p. 52-53 .
  7. ^ Johann Friedrich Agricola : Musica mechanica organoedi. Musical mechanics for the organist. Ed .: Quentin Faulkner. Zea E-Books, Lincoln (NE, USA) 2011 (E-Book: Facsimile of the original edition 1768 and translation into English). Available online: [1] , accessed March 23, 2018.
  8. a b Die Welt from June 5, 2013: A new organ from the baroque era. Seen June 9, 2013.
  9. “An organ for Bach” (PDF file; 276 kB), viewed January 18, 2013.
  10. Wolf Kalipp: The organ of St. Catherine's, Hamburg. In: Music and Worship. Year 65, 2015, pp. 186–194, here: p. 191 ( online , accessed on December 11, 2019).
  11. ^ Choir organ in Sankt Katharinen , seen January 18, 2014.
  12. Main Church of St. Katharinen (ed.): St. Katharinen. The main church and its quarter - a rediscovery. Elbe - & - Flut-Ed./Junius, Hamburg 2013, ISBN 978-3-88506-026-0 .

Web links

Commons : St. Katharinen, Hamburg  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 53 ° 32 ′ 45 ″  N , 9 ° 59 ′ 39 ″  E