Nikolaikirche (Berlin)

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Nikolaikirche Museum
Nikolaikirche museum from above
Nikolaikirche museum from above
place Berlin coordinates: 52 ° 31 ′ 0.5 ″  N , 13 ° 24 ′ 27 ″  EWorld icon
historical Museum
opening 1995
ISIL DE-MUS-813514

The Nikolaikirche is the oldest intact church building in the historic center of Berlin and is a listed building . It is located in the Mitte district in the Nikolaiviertel between Spandauer Straße , Rathausstraße , Spree and Mühlendamm . The church, which was demolished in 1938, is a museum belonging to the Stadtmuseum Berlin Foundation , which also regularly hosts concerts.


Building history

Today's Nikolaikirche goes back to at least two previous buildings. The first was built from around 1230 and corresponded to the regional type of a late Romanesque , 40 meter long, three-aisled , flat-roofed pillar basilica made of field stone with six axes, transept and three east apses . The western building , which has been preserved , was built around 1230 and already has early Gothic features; the west portal is ogival. It got its name from St. Nicholas of Myra . The Nikolai patronage indicates that it was the church of a merchant settlement . As the oldest building in Berlin , along with the Molkenmarkt , it formed the core of the commercial city of Berlin, which was under construction, while the Cölln settlement grew up around the Petrikirche on the opposite side of the Spree .

Before the end of the 13th century, the nave of the field stone basilica was demolished and replaced by a three-aisled early Gothic brick hall. Already before 1379, work began on replacing the late Romanesque choir of the original building with a significantly expanded hall choir. The vaulting of this ambitious choir building can be dated to the early 15th century at the latest.

Associated plans for a new hall longhouse, adapted to the dimensions of the ambulatory choir, were not implemented until around 1460. In 1460, Bishop Dietrich IV declared that those who contributed to the construction of the church of St. Nikolai, which was apparently in danger of collapsing, would be granted a 40-day indulgence within a year . Formative elements of the early Gothic predecessor hall were not included. The two-storey Chapel of Our Lady on the south-west corner of the new nave can be dated to around 1465 and is related to the foundation of a brotherhood of Mary by the electoral chef Ulrich Czewschel in 1452. The red bricks of the chapel form a clear contrast to the gray of the tower. Around 1470/1480, the last medieval construction phase was followed by a two-storey sacristy and chapel extension on the north side of the ambulatory choir. The late medieval crowning of the south side of the cross-bar-like field stone west building with a slender pointed tower, which has been preserved throughout all construction phases, can no longer be dated. In 1876–1878, Hermann Blankenstein erected the neo-Gothic double tower façade, which is characteristic of today, to replace it and again while preserving the early Gothic basement . For the time it is quite remarkable that this extensive intervention in the historical building fabric was heatedly discussed among the members of the Architects' Association in Berlin and thus provides an important testimony to the development of monument preservation in Germany in the second half of the 19th century.

Church furnishings

In 1461, the Berlin bakers' guild, which was one of the wealthy four trades , donated an altar to the Nikolaikirche along with an annual pension for the salary of an altarist .

After the Berlin Reformation of 1539, around 150 hereditary funerals for Berlin statesmen, scholars and wealthy citizens were admitted in the choir and side aisle niches. The interior of the church was decorated with valuable art treasures at that time. A baptismal font cast in 1563 , a pulpit carved in 1680 and the altar from 1715 are worthy of mention. There are also paintings from the late Gothic and Baroque periods.

The entrance to the crypt of the court goldsmith Daniel Male

One of the most important hereditary burials created since the 16th century is the tomb designed by Andreas Schlüter for the court goldsmith Daniel Male . The natural law teacher Samuel von Pufendorf and the Protestant theologian Jakob Spener were also solemnly buried here. The grave of the von Kötteritzsch family on the ground floor of the Liebfrauenkapelle, built in 1610, was also of importance.

Political and Church History

In 1539, the Council of Berlin and Cölln joined Lutheranism in the Nikolaikirche .

The Nikolaikirche is of particular importance as a place of work and a place of collaboration between the important Protestant hymn poet Paul Gerhardt , who was pastor here from 1657 to 1667 , and the hymn composer Johann Crüger , 1622–1662 cantor at St. Nikolai. A memorial plaque was installed for both of them in 1957. The Orientalist Andreas Müller followed Propst Lilie during Gerhardt's employment in 1667 . The Lutheran theologian and important Pietist Philipp Jacob Spener was provost to St. Nikolai from 1691 until his death in 1705. In the years from 1764 to 1788 the important Enlightenment theologian Johann Joachim Spalding held this office.

On July 6, 1809, the first city ​​council elected after Stein's reforms met there and was ceremonially sworn in with the magistrate and the mayor . On October 30, 1817, the day before the 300th anniversary of the Reformation , the church union in Prussia was carried out in the Nikolaikirche with a communal communion for Lutherans and the Reformed , creating the church of the Old Prussian Union .

From 1913 to 1922 Wilhelm Ludwig Georg Wessel was the pastor, whose son Horst Wessel later became one of the most famous figures of the National Socialists in Germany. The Wessel family lived in the neighboring Jüdenstrasse .

In November 1938, the church was given up by the Protestant church for regular use, placed outside of worship and given into the property of the German Reich ruled by the National Socialists . In 1939 a last service for the time being took place in the Nikolaikirche on the 400th anniversary of the conversion to the Reformation in Brandenburg . As part of a project for the entire surrounding district as the center of medieval Berlin, the church was to be restored and regotified. Based on the existing musical tradition, the redesign to a "music dome" for Berlin was planned with the conversion of the existing organ and the installation of a second organ.

Destruction and rebuilding

The ruins after the collapse in 1949, taken in 1951

During the Second World War in 1944, the church lost Blankenstein's spiers, the roof and part of the vaults in the choir area during Allied air raids . Further damage was caused by a fire inside at the end of the war and then by the effects of the weather for years and raids by non-ferrous metal thieves , but numerous items of inventory were saved. 16 paintings and the Romanesque chalice of the Nikolaikirche were placed in the Marienkirche . Because the badly damaged church remained without a temporary roof, all the vaults and the northern row of pillars collapsed in 1949. The epitaphs had only been protected from brickwork since 1957; others came to the East Berlin State Museums in 1965 and to the Märkisches Museum in 1968/1969 .

The war-damaged Nikolaikirche at the beginning of the reconstruction work, 1982
The Nikolaikirche shortly before the end of the external reconstruction work, 1983

Despite foreign aid pledges (including from Scandinavia ), the Evangelical Church of the GDR was unable to raise the necessary funds for reconstruction. Since the state did not want to participate in any financing either, the church ruins were ceded to the city of Berlin in 1969. The stump of the tower and the surrounding walls of the Nikolaikirche stood almost alone in a large cleared open space for several decades. The GDR government finally renounced the much feared demolition of the ruins in 1978 by planning the later Nikolaiviertel .

In connection with the reconstruction of the Nikolaiviertel and the preparations for the 750th anniversary of Berlin , the Nikolaikirche was rebuilt true to the original from 1980 to 1983 according to old drawings and plans with new spiers . The collapsed cross vault of the 18 meter high nave had to be completely rebuilt. The two 44-meter-high spire helmets were mounted on the ground and lifted onto the tower base with a crane. On the occasion of the reconstruction, a carillon consisting of 41 bells was installed in the tower.

Since its completion in 1987, the church has been used for exhibitions at the Märkisches Museum as well as for lectures and concerts . The problematic acoustics of the 250-seat hall significantly limits the range of the musical program. The renovation in 2008–2010 has improved the acoustics and the number of seats.

Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker was made the first full Berlin honorary citizen since the division of the city on June 29, 1990 in the Nikolaikirche . The constituent meeting of the newly elected Berlin House of Representatives took place there on January 11, 1991 .

Archaeological digs

Between 1956 and 1958 and on the occasion of the reconstruction between 1980 and 1983, extensive archaeological excavations were carried out to research the architectural history of the Nikolaikirche. The remains of a late Romanesque three-aisled basilica and an early Gothic hall church were identified. Among these remains, archaeologists found graves from an older cemetery with an estimated number of 120 to 150 burials. The cemetery was dated to the end of the 12th to the beginning of the 13th century and was located on the hill of a valley sand island of the Spree. The findings indicate that Berlin is at least 50 years older than previously assumed.

Todays use

The Nikolaikirche has been a museum of the Stadtmuseum Berlin Foundation since 1995 . After a comprehensive two-year renovation, the Nikolaikirche was reopened on March 21, 2010 with a festival program. The restored pulpit of the not rebuilt Franciscan monastery church was built into the main room of the church , and some Baroque figures from the original altar were also placed there. The then governing mayor, Klaus Wowereit, opened a new permanent exhibition that traces the development and use of the house of God over the past 800 years under the title From the City Grounds to the Dual Heads. There are also exhibition areas on the personalities associated with the church. In autumn 2017, the installation Lost Words by Chiharu Shiota presented a work by contemporary artists for the first time in the central nave .


Outdoor area

The west facade with the spiers from the 1980s, 2017

With its current appearance, the exterior facade illustrates the various construction periods of the church building. The west facade is dominated by a massive west building made of gray-brown-purple field stones in the tower base, which is tiered into four floors. It is the oldest part of the church and belonged to a late Romanesque basilica as the first stone building at this point (first half of the 13th century). Around 1270 the nave was replaced by a Gothic hall . After the city fire of 1380, a comprehensive new building as a late Gothic hall church took place until around 1470 , while the western building was retained. The two-storey Chapel of Our Lady, which was built back in 1452, consists of red bricks with a stepped gable . The five- bay nave received a new type of hall choir . At the same time, the sacred building received the choir chapel for the sacristy and the church library.


The new tower with towers of the same height, which was built over the medieval base in 1880, replaced the historic single tower. The spiers were destroyed in the final battles of World War II. On the occasion of the preparations for the 750th anniversary of the founding of the city of Berlin in 1987, it was decided to reconstruct the dual leadership. The new octagonal buckled helmets of the 1980s are largely based on the shape of the single spire of the facade, as it existed until the historicist redesign of the church in 1876/1878, and less on the design of the two neo-Gothic spiers from 1876/1878 with theirs a total of eight corner turrets. The eight triangles of the two octagonal tips from the 1980s are no longer the same size as in the two previous models, but wider and narrower triangles alternate. The previous tower crosses were no longer put on during the reconstruction. The modern spiers were fully assembled on a concrete base located on the ground, where they received two thirds of the covering over a special steel structure and a copper skin. The southern tip received on its spire a replica of the historic Berlin city arms as a weather vane - the reminder that here the original single bell tower of St. Nicholas Church in the Middle Ages was. The other tip received a gold-plated ball that serves as a lightning rod. For the installation of the new spiers weighing 53  tons , construction experts had previously attached a reinforced concrete ring anchor to the stabilized tower fragments . A mobile crane from VEB Industriemontagen Merseburg lifted the finished tips in the early morning of August 20, 1982 and set them down on the ring anchor with millimeter precision, where they were permanently screwed. It took 35 minutes to put on a tip.


View into the main nave

The interior of the church is vaulted in the west area in three bays, which were adapted to the current tastes in Gothic or Baroque style during the later structural changes . The choir has been designed as a passage area with fringe chapels. The main nave is supported by buttresses . - Before the destruction in the Second World War, ribbed vaults on bundle pillars defined the interior.


Organ of the Nikolaikirche

Today's organ was built in 1997 by the organ building company Jehmlich ( Dresden ). The instrument has 44 registers ( slider drawers ) on three manuals and a pedal . The action mechanism is mechanical, the stop action is electrical.

I Hauptwerk C – g 3

01. Principal 16 ′
02. Quintad 16 ′
03. Principal 08th'
04th Pointed flute 08th'
05. Salicional 08th'
06th octave 04 ′
07th Flûte d'amour 04 ′
08th. Fifth 02 23
09. octave 02 ′
10. Mixture V
11. Scharff IV
12. Cornett III-V 08th'
13. Trumpet 16 ′
14th Trumpet 08th'
II Swell C – g 3
15th Drone 16 ′
16. Flute principal 08th'
17th Double flute 08th'
18th Viola da gamba 08th'
19th Flute beat (from c 0 ) 08th'
20th Far octave 04 ′
21st Coupling flute 04 ′
22nd Nasat 02 23
23. Night horn 02 ′
24. third 01 35
25th Pointed fifth 01 13
26th Mixture V-VI 02 ′
27. Wooden bassoon 16 ′
28. Cor anglais 08th'
III Positive C-g 3
29 Wooden dacked 08th'
30th Principal 04 ′
31. Reed flute 04 ′
32. Principal 02 ′
33. Sif flute 01'
34. Zimbel II-III
35. Shawl shelf 08th'
Pedal C – f 1
36. Principal 16 ′
37. Sub bass 16 ′
38. Octave bass 08th'
39. Dumped 08th'
40. Italian principal 04 ′
41. Backset V 05 13
42. bassoon 32 ′
43. trombone 16 ′
44. Bombard 08th'

See also


  • Ernst Badstübner : Berlin Nikolaikirche . EA Seemann, Leipzig 1991. ISBN 3-363-00485-0 .
  • Ernst Badstübner: Nikolaikirche - Nikolaiviertel - Berlin . Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 1999. ISBN 3-7954-6173-8 .
  • Matthias Barth: Romanesque and Gothic in Brandenburg and Berlin - architecture and building decor of the Middle Ages . Bergstadtverlag, Würzburg 2009.
  • A. Haupt: The new organ of the St. Nicolai Church in Berlin . In: Caecilia . Volume 26 (1847), Issue 103, pp. 143-149 ( ).
  • Märkisches Museum Berlin (ed.): Funerary art from four centuries. Epitaphs and grave monuments in the Nikolaikirche in Berlin. Catalog of Sepulchral Sculpture. Edited by Knut Brehm in collaboration with Donata Kleber, Hans-Joachim Veigel and Uwe Winkler , Märkisches Museum and Argon Verlag, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-87024-270-1 .
  • Berlin. Sacred places . Grebennikov Verlag, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-941784-09-3 .
  • Albrecht Henkys: The Berlin Nikolaikirche. House of God - monument - museum . Verlag M, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-9812257-6-1 .
  • Gustav Leh: The St. Nikolai Church in Berlin and the history of the Berlin Propstei. Edited on behalf of the parish council of St. Nikolai u. St. Marien, Berlin; Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Berlin 1961, 103 pp., 43 ills.

Web links

Commons : Nikolaikirche  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Eva Börsch-Supan, Helmut Börsch-Supan, Günther Kühne, Hella Reelfs: Art Guide Berlin. l4. Edition, Philipp Reclam jr., Stuttgart 1991, ISBN 3-15-010366-5 , p. 37 f.
  2. Horst Ulrich, Uwe Prell, Ernst Luuk: Nikolaikirche. In: Berlin Handbook. The lexicon of the federal capital. FAB-Verlag, Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-927551-27-9 , p. 886.
  3. ^ Ernst Badstübner : The Nikolaikirche in Berlin. Leipzig 1991.
  4. ^ Dehio handbook of German art monuments: Berlin. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Berlin / Munich 2000, p. 41 ff.
  5. ^ Ernst Badstübner: The Nikolaikirche in Berlin. Leipzig 1991, p. 4.
  6. ^ Ernst Badstübner: Berlin and Königsberg in the Neumark. Stations of Heinrich Brunsberg? In: Ernst Badstübner, Dirk Schumann (Hrsg.): Hall ambulatory choirs in the Mark Brandenburg. Berlin 2000.
  7. Dirk Schumann: On the medieval building history of the Berlin Nikolaikirche. In: Tobias Kunz, Dirk Schumann (Ed.): Work and reception. Berlin 2011.
  8. ^ Albrecht Henkys: The Berlin Nikolaikirche. House of God - monument - museum. Verlag M, Berlin 2010, p. 23.
  9. ^ Mario Müller: Dietrich von Stechow, Bishop of Brandenburg 1459–1472. Regesta on the Vita and the episcopate. In: Sascha Bütow, Peter Riedel, Uwe Tersp (eds.): The Middle Ages ended yesterday. (Contributions to the regional, cultural and religious history. Heinz-Dieter Heimann on his 65th birthday.) Lukas Verlag, ISBN 978-3-86732-188-4 . P. 101.
  10. ^ Albrecht Henkys: The Berlin Nikolaikirche. House of God - monument - museum. Verlag M, Berlin 2010, p. 28.
  11. Dirk Schumann: On the medieval building history of the Berlin Nikolaikirche. In: Tobias Kunz, Dirk Schumann (Ed.): Work and reception. Berlin 2011.
  12. ^ Albrecht Henkys: The Berlin Nikolaikirche. House of God - monument - museum. Verlag M, Berlin 2010, p. 55.
  13. ^ Svea Janzen: The debate about the new tower of the Berlin Nikolaikirche 1876–1877 . In: Attendance note, 5/2013, pp. 71–94, accessed on August 25, 2015.
  14. a b c d e f g h i Horst Ulrich, Uwe Prell, Ernst Luuk: Nikolaikirche. In: Berlin Handbook. The lexicon of the federal capital. FAB-Verlag, Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-927551-27-9 , p. 887
  15. annual calendar at; 30th of October
  16. "Additional information on the repair of the Nikolaikirche" of the Senate Department for Urban Development from March 19, 2010 (PDF; 34 kB)
  17. ^ Jürgen Boeckh: Old Berlin churches. From St. Nicolai to "Jerusalem" , Berlin 1975, p. 26
  18. Götz Eckardt (ed.): Fates of German architectural monuments in the Second World War. A documentation of the damage and total losses in the area of ​​the German Democratic Republic. Volume 1. Berlin - Capital of the GDR, districts Rostock, Schwerin, Neubrandenburg, Potsdam, Frankfurt / Oder, Cottbus, Magdeburg , Henschelverlag, Berlin 1980, p. 10 f., There also information on the whereabouts of the recovered inventory
  19. Knut Brehm: The grave sculpture of the Nikolaikirche , in: Märkisches Museum Berlin (Hrsg.): Gravestone art from four centuries (see literature list ), pp. 8-10
  20. On the risk of demolition and planning, see Benedikt Goebel: The conversion of old Berlin into a modern city center. Planning, building and ownership history of the historic Berlin city center in the 19th and 20th centuries , Braun Verlagshaus, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-935455-31-3 , pp. 297–303.
  21. Berlin. Sacred places ; P. 11
  22. Ground monument: Nikolaikirche, remains of various construction phases, cemetery
  23. A lost treasure and floating angels . In: Berliner Zeitung , March 20, 2010, accessed on November 2, 2014.
  24. ^ Future strategy for the Stadtmuseum Berlin , pp. 46–51 (PDF, accessed December 19, 2017).
  25. LOST WORDS . In: Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin . ( [accessed June 11, 2018]).
  26. a b The architectural and art monuments of the GDR , Berlin, I; Edited by the Institute for Monument Preservation at Henschelverlag, Berlin 1984; P. 61 ff
  27. Marcus Cante et al. : Berlin and its buildings, vol. 6 sacred buildings . Berlin 1997, pp. 332 and 345 f.
  28. ^ Heinz Knobloch: New tips in Berlin (series: With both eyes ). In: Wochenpost No. 36/1982, p. 22
  29. ^ Organ Berlin Nikolaikirche. Jehmlich organ building. Archived from the original on October 25, 2007 ; Retrieved September 18, 2014 .
  30. DNB 452747805