Marienkirche (Wismar)

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South view of the Marienkirche
Copper engraving by Matthäus Merian 1640: Marienkirche in the center of the picture to the right of the town hall, still with a Gothic spire
Floor plan of St. Marien (1896)

The Marienkirche (also Sankt Marienkirche ) is located in the center of the old town of Wismar between the market square and the Fürstenhof . It was the main parish church and council church of the market town. It is one of the oldest buildings in the Hanseatic city. Her ship , badly damaged in World War II , was blown up in 1960. Only the 80.5 meter high tower remains .

Building history

First building

The construction was not the first Marienkirche in Wismar, because the existence of another Marienkirche is documented for 1250. It was probably a wooden structure that was already in place in the 1220s. The city's foundation before 1226 made the existence of a parish church necessary. The Marienkirche was built around 1260–70 as a hall church with a west tower. The width of the nave was 36 meters, the height of the vaults about 16 meters, the length of the nave and the shape of the choir are unknown. These enormous dimensions testify to the economic power of the city in the 13th century. The west tower and its side chapels have been preserved. The templates for the arcade arches between the side aisles and the central nave also date from that time. The height of the tower halls and the traces of the arch above the opening of the central hall show that the three naves were of the same height and were covered by a common roof.

Second building

1st tower floor: limestone cuboids on the edges, frieze with glazed shaped bricks and plastered panels on the tower base
  • 1st construction phase:

After the choir was demolished, a temporary end wall was built for the hall longhouse that was still in use. Around 1320–1339, the basilical ambulatory choir with a chapel wreath was built under foreman Johann Grote .

  • 2nd construction phase:

After 1339 the choir was completed and in 1353 it was consecrated. After that, the old hall longhouse was gradually removed and the brick material was used again to complete the longhouse as a basilica. The type of the church corresponded to the model of the Marienkirche in Lübeck .

  • 3rd construction phase:

The nave was completed around 1370/75. The height of the central nave vault was 32.2 meters.

  • 4th construction phase:

Before 1388, insert chapels were added between the buttresses, the north hall on the north side around 1388 and the sacristy before 1390 . The south vestibule and the bone carver chapel to the east were built before 1414.

  • 5th construction phase:

In the 5th construction phase, the west tower was increased to three storeys. A wooden, copper-clad spire was placed on top of this tower, so that the tower reached a total height of around 120 meters.

The chapel under the tower was equipped, maintained and used by the merchants' corporation of the mountain drivers in the Middle Ages .

Post-medieval changes

South view, drawing from 1896

In the 15th or early 16th century, the steep Gothic pyramid helmet was destroyed and replaced by a roof turret, which in turn was destroyed by lightning in 1539. The replacement was thrown down by the storm in 1661, the subsequent provisional closure has remained to this day. In the 18th century some windows and portals were bricked up. In the 1860s, a roof turret was erected over the eastern end of the nave roof .

After 1945

Bricked-up floor plan of the removed nave: photo of the church tower 2010
New church : built as a Protestant emergency church in 1951

In April 1945 the church was badly damaged by air mines. The roof covering was lost and all the vaults, the south aisle and the south porch collapsed. In 1951 an emergency church was built for the community based on the design by Otto Bartning , the New Church , which was built from the stones of the old rectory.

Although there was no immediate risk of collapse or health hazards from the cordoned off building, in 1960 the nave and choir of St. Mary's Church were blown up in protest of numerous citizens interested in culture and history, and the building material was turned into gravel. The tower could not be removed because of its importance as a navigation mark .

In recent years, with funds from the city, state, federal government, the German Foundation for Monument Protection and donations from committed citizens, the remaining tower has been closed and equipped with installations so that it can again be used for events. The ground plan of the former nave was made visible again through low walls.

Together with St. Georgen in Wismar, St. Marien was until January 2012 the location of the exhibition Paths to Brick Gothic : “Burned Greatness - Buildings of Power”, which dealt with brick Gothic and the history of the origins of St. Marien. The tower of St. Marien is part of the European Route of Brick Gothic .

A reconstruction planned in the meantime was abandoned in 2017.


As a council church in Wismar, St. Marien was richly endowed with foundations. In the course of history, pieces of equipment were therefore passed on to poorer communities in Mecklenburg: One example is the pulpit from the workshop of the Lübeck carver Tönnies Evers the Elder. J. von 1587, which has been in the Marienkirche in Neustadt-Glewe since 1746 .

Several pieces of the equipment could be saved in the turmoil of the Second World War, but a large part was also destroyed. These include the main altar from 1749, the organ front from around 1840 and the stalls.

The triumphal cross from 1420 has adorned Schwerin Cathedral since the restoration in 1990 . It was created in the second half of the 14th century.

Other pieces, including the bronze baptism that was cast around 1335, have found their new place in Wismar's Nikolaikirche . There is evidence that the baptism was under the tower in 1495. It is probably a work by Johann Apengeter from Lübeck. A similar baptism cast by Apengeter is in the Marienkirche in Lübeck. Three figures in monk robes carry the cauldron, various reliefs with figures are arranged in two rows. In the upper row, scenes from the life of Christ are shown between the apostles, as well as the depiction of Christ as judge of the world. In the lower row you can see the wise and the foolish virgins and also scenes from the life of Christ. The baptismal font is surrounded by a knotted iron grid that represents ropes. It was probably made in the 16th century. According to a legend, the devil promised the blacksmith 100 gold thalers if he would make the endless lattice within one day, otherwise the soul of the blacksmith's journeyman should fall for the devil. That is why it is popularly called the Devil's Grid.

A winged retable from the Middle Ages, carved around 1430, is currently on display in the Nikolaikirche. It was probably originally part of the shopkeeper's altar. Mary is represented in the middle panel, accompanied by Saint Mauritius and the Archangel Michael. The reliefs in the two wings show the adoration of the newborn Jesus by the three kings on the right and the Annunciation on the left. The shopkeepers commissioned this reredos after they had added their chapel to the ambulatory in the northeast in 1411. The chapel was consecrated in the same year. The shopkeepers especially venerated Mary, in addition to the altar they had also dedicated a chandelier with a statue of Mary to her. The shopkeepers also used their chapel for meetings and discussions.

The St. Mary's Astronomical Clock was destroyed in a bombing raid during World War II.


Tower from the east (above the clock face gable with clock bells)

The substructure of the tower and the two side halls are still preserved from the early Gothic predecessor church. Construction began around 1260 to 1270, which is also evidenced by some traditional confirmations of brick deliveries and foundations. The portal has a pointed arch and is equipped with clover-leaf arch friezes and corner pilasters . The former round windows on the sides were walled up. This early Gothic substructure was built up by three storeys in the first half of the 15th century. The individual floors were divided by two pointed arch windows on each side. The outer edges were emphasized by white limestone binders, they form a strong contrast to the red color of the bricks. Two crossing gable roofs were probably put on in the 16th century. The four gable fields are decorated with tracery stones and geometric patterns. The clock tower received the dials in 1647.


The collection of bells in the Marienkirche is one of the largest in northern Germany; all of the 13 bells that were once there have been preserved. The nine bells hung in the bell chamber together form a carillon that plays chorals that change according to the church year . The five largest bells are set up to vibrate and are rung together on festive days; fewer bells are rung on Sundays. On the east gable, above the clock face, another three bells are hung for the clock strike. The former choir bell is currently placed in the south side chapel next to the tower.

Technical and musical data of the bells
Name / use
Casting year
(kg, approx.)
( HT - 1 / 16 )
Type of use
1 Big bell 1567 Harmen Pasmann 1,968 5,000 b 0 −1 Chime bell, play bell
2 Middle or citizen bell 1567 Harmen Pasmann 1,613 2,700 c 1 −2 Chime bell, play bell
3 Guardian Bell 1902 M. & O. Ohlsson 1,420 1,560 of the 1 ± 0 Chime bell, play bell
4th 1652 Adam Dankwart 1,264 1,200 it 1 +5 Chime bell, play bell
5 1592 Gerdt Bincke 1,017 550 f 1 −4 Play bell
6th (Midday bell) 2nd half of the 14th century unknown 1,139 972 g 1 +10 Chime bell, play bell
7th 1602 Clawes Bincke 1,022 800 as 1 +10 Play bell
8th 14th century unknown 840 380 b 1 +15 Play bell
9 1435 Timmo Jhaeger 727 220 c 2 +10 Play bell
10 Hour bell 1542 Nikolaus Wachtel 1,604 2,472 of 1 +7 Clock bell
11 Half hour bell 1692 Vitus Siebenbaum 984 451 g 1 + 2½ Clock bell
12 Quarter-hour bell 1543 Jochim Sternberch 695 200 it 2 -5 Clock bell
13 Choir bell 1687 Vites Siebenbaum 563 120 g 2 -7 switched off

Parish church

In the Middle Ages, the parish churches were mainly used by the people of the associated parish. The church was used to celebrate Holy Mass , preaching , administering the sacraments of confession , baptism , anointing of the sick and finally the funeral of the parishioners. The southern part of the old town between the Dominican monastery , the Heilig-Geist-Hospital and Badeutterstraße formed the parish of the Marienkirche. The market square and the town hall were also located in this district. Some very wealthy citizens lived here in the city center. As long as the Dominican monastery, founded in 1292 still had no monastery church, the municipal authorities of the city had the preacher brothers transferred the ministry in St. Mary's Church. The main entrance to the church faced the market. The older north vestibule also served as a morgue, in which the deceased were laid out before the burial. An organ was also installed here.


As is common in the churches in other Hanseatic cities, wealthy parishioners had chapels built or added to the church. Merchant societies and handicraft offices also set up chapels and donated for them. On the east wall of each chapel there was an altar at which a so-called mass priest read an eternal mass every day . These masses should serve the founders for the salvation of souls. In order to promote this profitable business for the church, every opportunity was exhausted to set up chapels or to add to the building. Chapels were also set up in the two preserved tower halls. The Westphal family from Wismar had their chapel in the northern side hall of the tower, this chapel was later taken over by the Hökern . The Wismar cooper had a chapel in the southern tower hall. A wealthy councilor's widow donated alms, which were regularly received by the needy in the cooper's chapel. The chapels of the mountain drivers , barbers and merchants were housed in the room directly under the tower . Here was also the baptism. The St. Marien zur Weiden chapel was in the south-west corner. The three-bay building stood over a rectangular floor plan. The chapel, built before 1324, was used to set up various altars and was probably used as a station during processions. The chapel was demolished in 1960. The Bantzkow Atonement Chapel was built between 1427 and 1433. The city paid for this as an atonement for the execution of Mayor Bantzkow. The chapel was demolished before 1850. The burial chapel of the Swedish major general von Wrangel, the bronze tomb slab of Duchess Sophie von Mecklenburg († 1504), originally in the Black Monastery , saved by the war and now in St. Nicolai, and the grave were located in the Marienkirche of the legal scholar David Mevius († 1670 as Vice-President of the Swedish Tribunal in Wismar). The wooden cenotaphs of General Wrangel and his wife are now on display in the vaulted cellar below the town hall.

The parishioners who could not afford a burial place inside the church were buried in the cemetery that surrounded the Marienkirche. There were two small chapels in this cemetery.



The churchyard of St. Marien was built over with chapels in earlier times, including St. Marien zu den Weiden and the Bantzkow Atonement Chapel . These have not survived as some of them were torn down in the 19th century.

Press reports on the demolition of the church

“Responsibly checked and decided, advice and suggestions from the population observed. After a thorough discussion, a unanimous decision: the main nave of the Marienkirche is removed, the tower is retained. ... The question of the population, what will happen to the ruins of the Marienkirche? we took it very seriously. We used construction experts and experts from Dresden and Rostock and had the structural condition examined in detail. The result says that the tower, which can be seen from afar, can be preserved, but the main nave is a major source of danger and must therefore be removed, says Comrade Fliegert (Lord Mayor) to the MPs, who had to take full responsibility for their decisions. ... After a thorough discussion of all pros and cons, the city council decided to demolish the nave of the Marienkirche. "

- Ostsee-Zeitung of August 5, 1960

"St. Mary should fall, says the SED. One of the most famous Gothic buildings is now being destroyed in Wismar. The Wismar silhouette? These are the three mighty churches, wide, blocky and built to last: St. Georgen, St. Nicolai and St. Marien. ... But how will it be tomorrow? This anxious question is only too well founded, because in the most beautiful of the Wismar churches a demolition squad of the Soviet zonal police drove blast holes into it. The SED decided that St. Mary should fall. ... They want to put a 'culture palace' on the square of St. Marien, not the church, but a 'socialist building' should define the silhouette of the city in the future. The stones of the church are supposed to feed the machines, which are currently only hesitantly producing plates for the 'socialist large-block way'. There is a lack of raw material, the church is to be a quarry. ... Up to now, no specialist has questioned that the precious building could be restored. The tower is as stable as ever, but the walls and pillars of the central and side aisles show no tendency to collapse, although they have been exposed to storm and rain for fifteen years without protection. ... At the beginning of this year, people in Wismar were still convinced that St. Marien would be restored shortly. A good dozen commissions had examined and considered over the years; it never occurred to anyone to plead for demolition. Secretly, in March 1960, the decision was made on the premises of the SED district leadership. SED Secretary Rohloff pronounced the verdict; Lord Mayor Fliegert was appointed executor. The rules of the game were left to the mayor. This elderly gentleman from Breslau was not particularly skilled at work. At a lecture evening he let his city planner Domhardt speak about 'planning and design' Wismar. The man used sketches on which St. Marien had already been torn off. That brought the Wismarers in armor. Apartment blocks, skyscrapers and the Palace of Culture flew off the table. A hard discussion began, the only subject: St. Mary's. ... A respected, expert citizen put a complete plan on the table that showed how one could save St. Marien with 20 craftsmen, a tower crane and an annual budget of 200,000 Ostmark. If only there was the will. ... For eight weeks, April to June, the curtain fell. But at the beginning of July there was an increasing number of 'working people' in the local press calling for the demolition of St. Mary's. The 'working people' became 'more urgent' and the Fliegert finally announced that it 'had to decide to examine this question'. … St. Mary is very important to us. We will try everything to save the precious structure. The decision is only made after careful consideration. ... One day an SED commission crawled around St. Marien. The 'experts' did not have to check, but to provide the reasons for the demolition. At the beginning of August, the preservationists of Mecklenburg met in Güstrow. A complaint was made that here and there one was simply passed over by the 'state organs'… and in the matter of St. Mary's, the 'unanimous decision' was made that this valuable, unique monument must be preserved under all circumstances. They were beautiful, strong words. ... When the monument preservers of the evening, in the pub, poured their 'success', the first pillars of the church collapsed in Wismar. The detonation sparked an outrage that SED circles had not suspected. The people of Wismar stood protectively in front of their church. Discussions flared up, angry and often careless, such as had not been heard in Wismar since June 1953. There were small, private protests. "

- The world of September 10, 1960


The Marienkirche was used in the early 1920s by director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau as a backdrop for his film Nosferatu - A Symphony of Horror , as the planned use of the Lübeck Aegidienkirche next to the Aegidienkirchhof met resistance.


  • Friedrich Schlie : The art and history monuments of the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Volume II: The district court districts of Wismar, Grevesmühlen, Rehna, Gadebusch and Schwerin. Schwerin 1898. (Reprint: Schwerin 1992, ISBN 3-910179-06-1 , pp. 27-68)
  • Gottfried Kiesow : St. Marien in Wismar . In: Buildings of Power. (Burned Size, Vol. 2). German Foundation for Monument Protection, Bonn 2002, ISBN 3-936942-24-2 .
  • Angela Pfotenhauer, Elmar Lixenfeld: Wismar and Stralsund - World Heritage. monument edition. German Foundation for Monument Protection, Bonn 2005, ISBN 3-936942-56-0 .
  • Claus Peter: The bells of the main Wismar churches. Stock and sources. In: Yearbook for bell technology. 5/6 (1993/94), pp. 69-94.
  • St. Marien Wismar. Church leaders. Verlag Ludwig, Kiel 1996, ISBN 3-9805480-0-7 .
  • Hans Christian Feldmann, Gerd Baier, Dietlinde Brugmann, Antje Heling, Barbara Rimpel: Dehio-Handbuch Handbuch der Deutschen Kunstdenkmäler Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2000, ISBN 3-422-03081-6 .

Web links

Commons : Marienkirche  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hans Christian Feldmann, Gerd Baier, Dietlinde Brugmann, Antje Heling, Barbara Rimpel, Dehio-Handbuch Handbuch der Deutschen Kunstdenkmäler Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2000, ISBN 3-422-03081-6 , p. 683.
  2. Meyers Travel Books: Ostseehbäder . 4th edition. Bibliographical Institute, Leipzig / Vienna 1910, p. 241.
  3. a b c St. Marien Wismar. Church leaders. Verlag Ludwig, Kiel 1996, ISBN 3-9805480-0-7 , p. 12.
  4. St. Marien Wismar. Church leaders. Verlag Ludwig, Kiel 1996, ISBN 3-9805480-0-7 , pp. 11 and 12
  5. Damage from bomb attacks
  7. a b c St. Marien Wismar. Church leaders. Verlag Ludwig, Kiel 1996, ISBN 3-9805480-0-7 , p. 15.
  8. St. Marien Wismar. Church leaders. Verlag Ludwig, Kiel 1996, ISBN 3-9805480-0-7 , pp. 18 and 19
  9. ^ Hans Christian Feldmann, Gerd Baier, Dietlinde Brugmann, Antje Heling, Barbara Rimpel: Dehio-Handbuch Handbuch der Deutschen Kunstdenkmäler Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2000, ISBN 3-422-03081-6 , p. 685.
  10. St. Marien Wismar. Church leaders. Verlag Ludwig, Kiel 1996, ISBN 3-9805480-0-7 , p. 11.
  11. ^ Hans Christian Feldmann, Gerd Baier, Dietlinde Brugmann, Antje Heling, Barbara Rimpel: Dehio-Handbuch Handbuch der Deutschen Kunstdenkmäler Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2000, ISBN 3-422-03081-6 , p. 683.
  12. Baltic Media: Wismar - St. Mary's. Partial motif B ° - c '- des' - es '- g'. April 3, 2015, accessed December 5, 2017 .
  13. Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mecklenburg, Heidberg Verlag in Koepcke. Publishing Ltd .: The bells of the Wismar churches and their history . 1st edition, new edition. Gutow, ISBN 978-3-934776-27-2 .
  14. Claus Peter: The bells of the Wismar churches and their history . Ed .: Evang. Luth. Mecklenburg Church District. 1st edition. koepcke.publishing ltd., 2016, ISBN 978-3-934776-27-2 , pp. 29-110 .
  15. Copy of a bell from 1553 (Schlie, p. 41)
  16. a b c d St. Marien Wismar. Church leaders. Verlag Ludwig, Kiel 1996, ISBN 3-9805480-0-7 , p. 13.
  17. ^ Ingo Ulpts: The mendicant orders in Mecklenburg. Werl 1995 p. 98.
  18. St. Marien Wismar. Church leaders. Verlag Ludwig, Kiel 1996, ISBN 3-9805480-0-7 , p. 14.
  19. Hubert Stierling : The grave slab of Duchess Sophie v. Mecklenburg in Wismar. in: monthly journals for art history. Leipzig, Volume 10.1917, 8/9, pp. 297-300.
  20. St. Marien Wismar. Church leaders. Verlag Ludwig, Kiel 1996, ISBN 3-9805480-0-7 , p. 26.
  21. St. Marien Wismar. Church leaders. Verlag Ludwig, Kiel 1996, ISBN 3-9805480-0-7 , pp. 26-29.

Coordinates: 53 ° 53 ′ 28 "  N , 11 ° 27 ′ 45.9"  E