Transverse church

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Göppingen town church , floor plan by master builder Heinrich Schickhardt , 1618, with stalls on the ground floor - east side below, inside with pulpit, outside with the remains of the broken-off chapel
Göppingen town church , elevation by master builder Heinrich Schickhardt in 1618, west wall on the right
Hanau, Alte Johanneskirche (formerly Lutheran Church) from 1658-64 (copper engraving from Johann Wilhelm, Architectura Civilis 1668)
The predecessor building of the Berlin Cathedral (fig. Around 1830) was a transverse church: the entrance and altar were not, as usual, on the narrow sides of the church, but on the long sides.

A transverse church is a form of church building in which either (with the usual east- facing longitudinal floor plan ) the transept is considerably larger than the nave (the latter is almost completely omitted) or in which the interior furnishings (stalls, multi-sided galleries, sometimes also the altar) the pulpit faces on one long side - i.e. transversely to the spatial longitudinal orientation.

With the transverse church, the only purely Protestant sacred structure emerged. As with the Reformation Central Church, which modified a Catholic-Baroque building principle by centralizing the altar, it was understood as an architectural implementation of the principle of the “ priesthood of all believers .” Choirs and ships were thus no longer regarded as a constitutive (fundamental) part of the church building. It was not until the Baroque period that transverse churches were built in large numbers.


Graphic from Leonhard Christoph Sturm's instructions from 1718. The ideal church has two galleries and a central pulpit. The dashed lines indicate that the pulpit would be visible from every seat.

With the Querkirche, the only purely Protestant sacred structure emerged, and not just in the 18th century, as some otherwise excellent specialist literature and even in the Reformation year 2017 the German Foundation for Monument Protection believe. It developed from the late medieval long church without seats, in southern German imperial cities above all from the churches in which preachers were specially employed for preaching services even before the Reformation , and from the Dominican preachers' church, which is usually in the imperial city , in which the pulpit is usually on one side Central nave pillar was attached. The congregation had gathered in front of this during the sermon, but otherwise focused on the consecrated altar in the east choir for the mass service . With the Reformation, this place of the Sunday sacrifice in a sacred space reserved for the clergy , the choir, separated from the nave for the lay people , was no longer an option, but it was often given a new meaning as a free-standing altar table : the Lord's table around which the congregation is for the priestly service of all baptized , gathered for the Lord's Supper. Martin Luther's understanding of worship - every place and room is right for the proclamation, prayer and Lord's Supper - that he had outlined in his sermon for the inauguration of the Torgau Palace Chapel on October 5, 1544, corresponded to the alignment of the pews and the installation of often multi-sided ones Galleries with sitting, listening and viewing directions primarily to the pulpit, which gave the congregation a more direct acoustic and visual access to the starting point of the preached gospel. In addition to the western gallery, which is also traditionally widespread in the Catholic area, there are often two-sided angled, three-sided U-shaped horseshoe galleries, as well as four-sided round galleries that surround the entire nave. For acoustic reasons, the pulpit was usually located on one long side of the church interior. With this functional rotation to the south, north, and sometimes even to the west, the east no longer played a role, which can also be seen in many post-Reformation extensions and reconstructions of traditional longitudinal churches as well as in nave additions to Gothic choirs or Romanesque choir towers. In the case of small village churches, it could make sense to move the previous altar from the narrow choir into the newly designed sermon hall, because due to lack of space, the congregation could only meet here for the Lord's Supper. For example, old choir rooms were sometimes almost inoperable if they were not suitable for the installation of special stalls, for the installation of epitaphs or an organ. The Protestant church building and its master builders had to find - also structural - solutions for wide church rooms that were as pillar-less as possible, which brought the listening community in a more semicircular arrangement to the “sermon chair” (the pulpit ).

Luther already speaks of the fact that the post-Reformation building or conversion of castle chapels into transverse churches is not an exclusively internal castle measure benefiting local, regional or state rule, but rather, in the spirit of the Reformation, "the church" is seen as a community and local parish encompassing a class of his Torgau sermon. - The other church building measures in castles that followed up to 80 years later also open the stately worship space for the non-class congregation: the chateau chapel becomes the parish church. There were, however, class differences when attending church services: the architecturally and artistically prominent gallery, usually directly accessible from the stately private apartments, was used by the rulers and their entourage, on the unadorned ground floor the castle staff sat or stood and "who otherwise want to enter" ( Luther).

Querkirchen as new buildings were built after the Torgau Palace Chapel, primarily in southern Germany. In the Duchy of Württemberg and its neighboring and partly related counties and later principalities of Hohenlohe , Brandenburg-Ansbach and Brandenburg-Bayreuth , this was due to the independent theological and liturgical profile between Lutheranism and Calvinism and the committed church building efforts of the sovereigns and their builders: " Unlike in Wittenberg, the basic liturgical decision of the Reformation in Württemberg was not based on the medieval tradition of the Roman mass, but on those preaching services that were widespread in the cities of south-west Germany [...]. ”Therefore, preaching hall churches were established early on - deliberately without a choir room of the sacraments - regarded as exemplary for evangelical worship services. A separation of spiritual and secular church space was no longer necessary after the Reformation.

The transverse hall, which is geared towards the proclamation of the Word and less towards the altar and communion table, initially had its focus in Württemberg across Germany with a focus on Franconia, even as far as Königsberg , but was not realized everywhere in Württemberg through new buildings. Existing building stock with limited possibilities for complete redesign in the sense of the sermon hall and transverse hall concept as well as a lack of financial means led to locally different compromise solutions: Very often existing churches were not only widened in the nave on one or both sides and provided with galleries there, but even wider or narrow choirs, and there, too, the stalls facing the pulpit. The position of the altar was then based on the space available for the community mealtimes at the Lord's table . Many of these subsequent conversions and installations were removed during renovations in the 20th century and the church interior was aligned lengthways again, but were characteristic of Protestant churches for centuries. The patronage local and regional nobility, when expanding or building a new church, sometimes oriented themselves more towards their needs for representation and burial than according to Reformation theological principles: in the traditional longitudinal orientation of a church, the choir often became a space for epitaphs, as burial was for the Protestant nobility or the memory of the dead in monasteries was lost. The consciously Protestant character of the church was then emphasized in a different way: with Reformation altarpieces (for example the Lord's Supper "in both forms" ) and other features.

Transverse churches were also built in the Protestant territories of the Holy Roman Empire in Franconia (from 1690), in Baden (from 1612) and in the Electoral Palatinate , in Hesse (from 1607) and in the Reformed Calvinist countries of Switzerland (from 1667) and Netherlands (from 1620), plus the very simply designed churches of the religious refugees Huguenots and Waldensians - mostly without pictures and cross - in some German areas directly after the Edict of Fontainebleau of 1685 and in Württemberg from 1721. In France , however, it gave way shortly after During the Reformation, Huguenot meeting rooms, often as a round and wooden structure and as a lecture hall modeled on the theater, occasionally also built horizontally, mostly quickly destroyed in the more than 100 years of persecution and, in contrast to the Catholic "église", always called "temples". "The influence of the Huguenots on the development of the transverse churches in the empire (...) must be assessed as extremely small." The Evangelical Reformed Huguenot Church Erlangen in the Franconian domain of the Brandenburg princes and margraves, built between 1686 and 1693, is the oldest church in the Huguenots outside France. This Calvinist- reformed construction after the end of the Thirty Years War cannot have influenced the early building of the transverse church in Württemberg, as is sometimes assumed, and the first wave of Calvinist religious refugees from the Netherlands to the Electoral Palatinate, which had converted to Calvinism , did not even bring about in the late 16th century there, let alone Wuerttemberg, so early a church building according to Reformed ideas.

In the Reformed church building in Switzerland , the transverse church was a popular concept , especially in the late baroque and classicism . The reasons are to be found in the fact that the Reformed theology of Huldrych Zwingli and Jean Calvin provides for a radical renunciation of images and altars, which goes far beyond the Lutheran ideals. In the search for an ideal spatial concept, the transverse church, which allows a view of the pulpit as the center of the Reformed sermon service, appeared optimal. The ground plan shapes are varied and range from oval churches to rectangular buildings to churches with a cross plan. The U-shaped galleries , which are best shown to advantage in the churches of Wädenswil and Horgen , the largest and most important transverse churches in Switzerland, are also typical of the Reformed church building .

After 1815, Protestant sacred architecture was again oriented more towards medieval concepts. The Eisenach regulation of 1861 recommended the Gothic canon of forms for church building, in which the sacrament (the altar), but not the sermon (the pulpit), is the focus. This concept met with resistance from liberal Lutherans and Reformed people and was replaced by the Wiesbaden program in 1891. Many church buildings in the Wiesbaden program, as well as modern and postmodern, are designed as central buildings and often come close to the concept of the transverse church.

A few Catholic churches were also designed as transverse churches - albeit for specific practical needs. The best- known example of this is Gianlorenzo Bernini's Church of Sant'Andrea al Quirinale in Rome .

Construction engineering

For practical reasons, it was recommended that the post-Reformation church should encompass the entire congregation as wide as possible with a pillar-free ceiling, good visibility and acoustics between the seats and the pulpit. From a nave width of 8-10 meters with conventional roof structures, this was no longer possible for structural reasons. It can be assumed that Elias Gunzenhäuser's pillarless, self- supporting roof structure, which is known in professional circles such as the royal courts, was further developed in the New Lusthaus , which was completed in Stuttgart in 1593 . In the town church Waldenbuch and for the large ballroom of the Renaissance castle Weikersheim Gunzenhäuser found appropriate solutions, and the architect Heinrich Schickhardt created with his staff for the City Church Göppingen 1618-1619 a Bautechnisches masterpiece of carpentry skills: a combination of so-called lying chairs , explosives and hanging trusses over three or four lofts, which had to be able to withstand high loads at the same time to accommodate the payload (fruit chute, grain floor). Simpler variants had already emerged before and then later as the only usable roof and ceiling structures for transverse churches. The Reformation's new form of worship led to a structural innovation. The liturgy challenged construction technology - or, to use the Bauhaus principle of the 20th century, form follows function , since the architectural is subordinate to the task at hand. The reclining chair, for large cantilevered spans combined with trusses and hanging structures, developed into the standard solution for roof structures in southern German churches in the late Renaissance and Baroque periods, so that gradually almost every larger church roof made use of these structural elements in the 17th and 18th centuries. Further north in Germany and also in other European countries, this innovation apparently hardly spread, to which the long timber competition for shipbuilding in coastal and river regions also contributed. The few larger Renaissance and transverse churches without a flat ceiling from the Netherlands to Scandinavia had supporting wall elements for their large vaults with cross, oval, round or double-rounded floor plans.

An interesting variant of the hanging structure was often used in Switzerland , especially by the bridge construction engineer Hans Ulrich Grubenmann , in the 18th century in church construction: both longitudinal and transverse churches were given a roof structure over the length of the room similar to a wide-span wooden bridge : with very long rafter trusses, stabilizing cross trusses and hip trusses as well as hanging pillars to support the flat ceiling. In other countries this construction does not seem to have been realized.

Examples of transverse churches


Ludwigskirche Saarbrücken
Interior of the Aukirche St. Mary's Conception in
Monschau, which has been redesigned as a transverse church
Longitudinal churches converted to a transverse church


Reformed Church Wädenswil, Switzerland
Reformed Church Horgen, Switzerland
Floor plan of the reformed castle church in Grüningen, Switzerland, 1781 or 1782
Example of a typical floor plan of a Protestant transverse church. The entrance, the central baptismal font, the pulpit and the tower ( Church Netstal , Switzerland, 1813.) lie on the shorter central axis (seen from the lower center ).
Existing transverse churches
Longitudinal churches converted to a transverse church
Transverse churches converted into a longitudinal church
«False cross churches»

In some buildings, the axis structure of the exterior suggests a transverse church, but the interior is arranged as a longitudinal church.

Transverse churches within building complexes


Reformed denomination
Lutheran denomination
Mennonite denomination



  • New Church in Bergen , 1700–02


  • 1583 Montpellier, Grand Temple of the Huguenots
  • 1608 Dieppe, Temple of the Huguenots
  • 1612 Caen, Temple of the Huguenots
  • 1634 Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Temple of the Huguenots, Vosges
  • 1680 Saumur, Temple of the Huguenots
  • 1728 Evangelical Lutheran Church Buchsweiler , Dept. Bas-Rhin
  • 1751 Evangelical Lutheran Church Waldersbach , Vosges
  • 1751 Evangelical Reformed Temple Neu-Saar Werden , Dept. Bas-Rhin

Italy - Catholic Cross Churches

Great Britain

United States

See also


  • Erwin Rall: The Protestant Church Buildings in Swabia and Southern Franconia in the 16th and 17th centuries ; Dissertation, Stuttgart 1922
  • Joseph Killer: The works of the master builder Grubenmann - a structural history and structural research work ; Dissertation at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich; Zurich 1942 - available as PDF on [10] , last accessed on February 25, 2019
  • E. Stockmeyer: The transverse space principle in the Zurich country churches around 1800. A contribution to the problem of Protestant church building. , in: Das Werk 30, 1943, pp. 61–64.
  • Georg Germann: The Protestant Church Building in Switzerland. From the Reformation to Romanticism. Zurich, 1963.
  • Siegwart Rupp: About Protestant Church Building in Württemberg ; in: Schwäbische Heimat, issue 2/1974, Stuttgart 1974, pages 123-136 - with a listing of post-Reformation church buildings in Württemberg. However, Rupp's basic assumption that the Schickhardt churches were oriented lengthways and led "as a type creation" to the Württemberg camera office churches of the 19th century has now proven to be wrong.
  • Alfred Schelter: The Protestant church building of the 18th century in Franconia ; Vol. 41 of the series Die Plassenburg , Kulmbach 1981 - Extended version of the building history dissertation at the TU Berlin from 1978 ("Interior architecture of Franconian religious buildings of Protestantism in the 18th century")
  • Ehrenfried Kluckert: Heinrich Schickhardt - architect and engineer ; Herrenberger Historische Schriften Volume 4, Herrenberg 1992, Chapter The Protestant Church Building Type, pp. 115-134 - still without the use of the term transverse church !
  • H. Schneider: Voyage of discovery - Reformed church building in Switzerland. Zurich 2000
  • Regnerus Steensma: Protestants kerken hun pracht en kracht . Gorredijk 2013
  • Michael D. Schmid: transversely built. Transverse churches in the canton of Zurich . Wädenswil 2018
  • Michael D. Schmid: lateral thinkers and lateral churches. History of a building type , in: etü - Historikerinnen-Zeitschrift des Historisches Seminar der Universität Zürich, Issue 1/2018, Zürich 2018, pp. 72–74.

Web links

Commons : Querkirche  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Harold Hammer-Schenk: Art. Church building III ; in: Gerhard Müller (ed.): Theologische Realenzyklopädie (TRE). Volume 18, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1989, ISBN 3-11-017388-3 , pp. 456–498 [461.463]
  2. (for example) Andreas Stiene: The Stettener Querkirche - An early example of its building type ; in: Andreas Stiene, Karl Wilhelm: Old stones - new life. History and stories of the Evangelical village church in Stetten im Remstal ; Stetten im Remstal 1998
  3. in their online magazine Monuments February 2017 edition (last accessed on February 5, 2019)
  4. Matthias Figel: The Reformation sermon service. An investigation into the history of the liturgy on the origins and beginnings of Protestant worship in Württemberg ; Epfendorf / Neckar 2013 - as well as: Matthias Figel: sermon worship , in: Württembergische Church History Online, 2014 - Permalink: [1]
  5. ^ D. Martin Luther's works, Weimar edition; Critical Complete Edition Volume 49, Weimar 1913, pages 588–615 - available at [2]
  6. ^ Doct. Martinus Luther: Inauguration of a Newen house for the preaching room of Divine Words erbawet / In the Electoral Palace at Torgaw . Wittenberg 1546. Reprint for the 450th anniversary of the parish church in October 1994; ed. Ev. Torgau parish, 1994
  7. Martin Luther: Inauguration of a new house for the preaching office of the divine word, built in the electoral palace in Torgau (1546) , Notger Slenczka, transmission: Jan Lohrengel; in: Martin Luther: German-German Study Edition (DDStA), Volume 2, edited by Dietrich Korsch and Johannes Schilling; Leipzig 2015, pp. 851–891
  9. More detailed on this and the seating arrangement: Andreas Rothe: Theologie in Stein und Bild ; in: The Castle Church of Torgau - Contributions to the 450th anniversary of the inauguration by Martin Luther; ed. Torgauer Geschichtsverein eV and Ev. Parish of Torgau; Torgau 1994, page 13.
  10. Joseph Leo Koerner: The Reformation of the Image ; From the English by Rita Seuss; Munich 2017, Chapter 22: Church Building, Notes 44–48
  11. ^ Erwin Rall: The Church Buildings of the Swabians and Southern Franconia in the 16th and 17th Centuries ; Typewritten dissertation at the Technical University of Stuttgart 1922, pages 8, 13 ff, 43
  12. Ilse-Käthe Dött: Protestant Querkirchen in Germany and Switzerland ; Typewritten dissertation, Münster 1955, pages 71–141 - The listing of earlier Württemberg cross churches no longer corresponds to the current state of research
  13. Walther-Gerd Fleck: The Protestant Church in Ohrnberg (Krs. Öhringen). The rural example of an early Protestant preaching room ; in: Newsletter of the preservation of monuments in Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart 1966, volume 3/4, pages 101-107 - viewable as PDF in: [3] - The last paragraph of the article as well as the preceding list of churches is groundbreaking for the Protestant type Transverse church
  14. Walther-Gerd Fleck; Luther Church Fellbach ; Self-published by Lutherkirche, Fellbach o. J. [1973], 12–16
  15. ^ Günther Memmert: The city church in Aalen and the Stephanus church in Alfdorf. On the type of Protestant cross-hall church in the Swabian Baroque . Dissertation, University of Stuttgart, 2010 - available at [4] - The assessment of the Aalen and Alfdorf churches as rare examples of Württemberg transverse churches (p. 97 ff and 146 ff), their classification in the history of church building and the listing of earlier Württemberg transverse churches no longer corresponds the current state of research
  16. Service book for the Evangelical Church in Württemberg - electronic ; CD-ROM, ed. Evangelical Oberkirchenrat Stuttgart; Stuttgart 2005, supplementary volume, page 2
  17. The service. A guide to understanding and practicing worship in the Protestant Church , Chapter 2.4 The Reformation renewal of worship; Published on behalf of the EKD Council in 2009 by the Gütersloher Verlagshaus, ISBN 978-3-579-05910-5 - available as a PDF at [5] , last accessed on December 21, 2018
  18. Kathrin Ellwardt: The type of the transverse church in the evangelical territories of the empire , in: Jan Harasimowicz (Hrsg.): Protestant church building of the early modern times in Europe. Basics and new research concepts ; Regensburg 2015, pp. 175–188 - but due to the lack of a tangible overview at this point in time (which the author herself regrets in note 22), almost without taking into account the extensive Württemberg transverse church building up to 1800
  19. Jörg Widmaier: Church stands across. The search for the "ideal" Protestant church building in Baden-Württemberg ; in: Monument Preservation in Baden-Württemberg. News bulletin of the State Monument Preservation, Volume 46, No. 4/2017, Stuttgart 2017, pages 244–249; available as a PDF on - Unfortunately Jörg Widmaier does not consider - apart from the Schlosskirche Stuttgart - the other transverse churches of the Renaissance and Baroque in Württemberg
  20. Kathrin Ellwardt: Church building between evangelical ideals and absolutist rule. The cross churches in the Hessian area from the Reformation century to the Seven Years War . Michael Imhof Verlag, Petersberg 2004, ISBN 3-937251-34-0
  21. ^ Almut Pollmer: Church pictures. The church interior in Dutch painting around 1650 ; Dissertation, University of Leiden 2011 - available as PDF see [6] , last accessed on June 4, 2019
  22. ^ Alfred Schelter: The Protestant church building of the 18th century in Franconia ; Volume 41 of the series Die Plassenburg , Kulmbach 1981, p. 35 - Extended version of the building history dissertation at the Technical University of Berlin from 1978: Interior architecture of Franconian religious buildings of Protestantism in the 18th century
  23. An overview (French) is available at [7] , last accessed on June 23, 2019
  24. Ellwardt, Kirchenbau, p. 22
  25. For example: Günther Memmert: The city church in Aalen and the Stephanus church in Alfdorf. On the type of Protestant cross-hall church in the Swabian Baroque . Dissertation, University of Stuttgart, 2010 - available on [8] , page 8 - and both Reinhard Lambert Auer: Protestant spatial programs in Württemberg and: Jörg Widmaier: The reformed church building in the German south-west ; both in: cultural monuments of the Reformation in the German south-west; (Red.) Grit Koltermann and Jörg Widmaier; (Ed.) State Office for Monument Preservation in the Stuttgart Regional Council; Esslingen 2017, pages 65-85 (71) and pages 86-95 (87); available as a PDF on [9] - Reinhard L. Auer unfortunately only mentions a few early cross churches of the 16th and 17th centuries in Württemberg
  26. Nikolai Ziegler: Between Form and Construction - The New Lusthaus in Stuttgart . Jan Thorbecke Verlag, Ostfildern 2016, ISBN 978-3-7995-1128-5 , plus dissertation, University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart 2015