St. Ulrich and Afra (Augsburg)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
St. Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg from the Maximilian street seen from

St. Ulrich und Afra is a Catholic parish church and has been a papal basilica in Augsburg since 1937 . It is one of the last large late Gothic church buildings in Swabia. The church fulfilled and fulfills various functions: pilgrimage church for the Augsburg diocese saints Ulrich, Afra and Simpertus, abbey church for a Benedictine monastery, minster of an important imperial monastery, garrison church for the 4th Bavarian Chevaulegers regiment, religious monument for the Augsburg upper class. The onion-shaped spire became the model for baroque churches in Bavaria.


Ortisei and Afra, 1521

Today's church stands on a site that had several church buildings as early as the 8th to 15th centuries. These emerged from pilgrimages to the veneration of St. Afra († 304). The buildings that were initially outside the city were destroyed during the Hungarian invasions or fell victim to fires. The Augsburg bishops Simpert († 807) and Ulrich († 973) were later given a burial site there as well. Since 1012 the holy place has been under the care of the Benedictine monastery of Ortisei and Afra .

The origin is a late Roman church, which was replaced by a Merovingian complex in the 7th century . A Carolingian church followed around 800 , which made way for an early Romanesque church in 1064/71. The high medieval monastery church was a two-aisled hall with east apses, which was about a third shorter than today's church. The south aisle was slightly wider than the north aisle and the total width corresponded to the successor building. The dilapidated previous church had to be demolished under Abbot Melchior von Stannheim in 1466. In 1467 the new building began in late Gothic forms. The master builder was Valentin Kindlin from Strasbourg, who probably carried out designs by Hans von Hildesheim. The building shell, however, fell victim to a storm in 1474.

In 1474, the construction of the existing church was started as a brick building by Valentin Kindlin and completed in 1500 by Burkhart Engelberg . Engelberg has set an impressive monument for itself with the erection of the Ulm Minster Tower . The vaults of the north aisle were completed in 1489, and in 1499 the nave was also vaulted. The Roman-German king and later Emperor Maximilian I (HRR) laid the foundation stone for the choir building of his “imperial church”. Engelberg worked at the church until his death in 1512. His successor was Hans König. In the following years the expansion came to a standstill and in 1537 the construction work came to a complete standstill. Church furnishings suffered severe damage during the iconoclasm . After the religious disputes, construction work was continued and the furnishings were renewed. In 1594 the north tower received its dome and a little later the sacristy and the Chapel of Our Lady were completed. The choir was only completed in 1603/04 for the 1300th anniversary of Afra. Three main altars were added by 1607. For the 600th Benedictine jubilee in 1612, a complete set of furnishings was described.

In 1643/44 St. Ulrich and Afra were elevated to the status of an abbey church and in 1698 the All Saints Chapel was added to the sacristy. In 1712, on the occasion of the Benedictine jubilee, the church furnishings were increased and in 1762 the Ulrichsgruft was set up. The monastery and imperial monastery were finally abolished in 1802 in the course of secularization and its property was added to the Bavarian state. In 1810 the church was rededicated as the parish church. On the occasion of Ulrich's anniversary, the interior was then renovated in 1873. Since July 4, 1937 the church has been the papal basilica .

During the Second World War , air raids in 1944/45 damaged the tower dome and the windows in particular. Reconstruction and renovation measures followed from 1946 to 1950. The lower church with the crypts of Saints Ulrich and Afra was designed in 1962. In 1985 the people's altar was completed and between 1987 and 1989 extensive building security and renovation took place with the restoration of the original color of the interior.


Ortisei and Afra, south side
Ortisei and Afra from the hotel tower

Exterior construction

Ortisei and Afra is a steep, three-aisled brick basilica with a transept and an elongated east choir. House stone was used on the older components for the portals, buttresses and tracery .

The exterior is plastered white and due to the surrounding buildings only partially calculated on sight. The simple monumentality of the former monastery church is enhanced by the absence of an open strut system. The gables were richly decorated as fronts with keel arches and pinnacles. In the north of the choir is the Marienkapelle (sacristy below) in the form of a side choir.

The choir view from the foot of the Milchberg is one of the most impressive medieval architectural images in Germany. High lancet windows sit between square buttresses. The tracery are divided in the middle and some of them already suggest Renaissance forms . The high tower rises in the northern corner of the choir, the octagonal upper floors of which are closed off by the well-known copper dome. The structure of the oculi and oval windows already looks rather baroque in the details and stands in clear contrast to the sober rigor of the basilica .

The “bare” appearance of the mighty west facade also points to its earlier function as a monastery church. The Romanesque -looking western portal is walled up and probably unfinished. The arched window above was not broken into until 1873. Only the tracery of the large late Gothic central window and the ornamental gable, which are framed by strong buttresses, are more richly designed.

The triangular, buttress-studded buttresses on the top of the nave, between which the short, wide tracery windows sit, are an unusual motif . Today's appearance goes back to the restoration around 1970, when the parts of the house were completely renewed.

Since 1594, the 93 m high "onion dome" of the Catholic basilica has been pointing to the Swabian countryside. Only this building - also known as the Afra tower - on the north side of the nave became a reality. A tower planned on the south side was never built due to lack of money.

On the south side of the church is the regimental memorial for the members of the 4th Bavarian Chevauleger regiment "König" who fell in World War I. The sculptor was Georg Pezold .

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 4th field artillery regiment "König", a memorial was installed on the western churchyard wall. The design of the monument was carried out by Jakob Rudolph. The monument shows a figure of Saint Barbara and was consecrated on December 5, 1959.

On the northeast side of the church, the rectory is adjacent to the Catholic community. On the south-east side there is a green area not open to the public with the remains of the St. Godehard chapel from the Merovingian and pre-Romanesque times. On the south side of the Basilica of the modern buildings of the conference hotel borders Sankt Ulrich of the diocese of Augsburg on. It was built in 1971–1974 as an educational and pastoral center based on plans by the Munich architect Alexander Freiherr von Branca in the postmodern style. From 2006 to 2009 it was renovated and redesigned and converted into a conference hotel and congress center according to plans by the Munich architectural office Blum Architekten . The west side of the church is also surrounded by buildings.

Outside the nave, the ensemble with the Protestant Church of St. Ulrich is impressive, a popular photo motif that also symbolizes Augsburg parity . Before the Reformation, the Protestant church with its low gable was the entrance and also the sacristy of the Catholic parish church. It emerged from a preaching hall built in 1457, which was made available to Protestants in 1526.

inner space


The interior is completely covered by rich reticulated and star vaults. There are complicated figurations in the aisles. The south aisle with the attached row of chapels and the protruding canopy of the Simpertus Chapel is particularly picturesque .

The central nave comprises seven rectangular bays with star net vaults. Because of the raised roofs over the side aisles, the windows of the upper aisle start high up, but continue downwards like niches and are covered with tracery. The three vaulted bays of the choir are closed on five sides of the octagon and covered by centralized star net vaults.

The star vaults of the crossing and the transverse arms are post-Gothic. The vault of the crossing is penetrated by a rectangular rib pattern. The lower church below the floor is modern and houses the grave chapels of the church patrons Ulrich and Afra. The Ulrich chapel was built in 1762/65, but was moved at right angles in 1962.

The nave is 93.50 m long, 27.50 m wide and 30 m high.


The church was not spared from the iconoclasms of the 16th century. The majority of the furnishings were then brought into the high and bright room. In the central nave , the eye falls involuntarily on the crucifixion group modeled by Hans Reichle and cast by Wolfgang Neidhardt . The bronze scene with Christ on the cross, Mary Magdalene , Mary and the apostle John at the foot of the cross was erected in 1605.

On the walls of the about 15 m high side aisles are impressive stations of the cross , oil paintings made by Januarius Zick in 1788. The richly decorated confessionals , as well as a splendid oak grate under the organ gallery, whose forged iron parts optically simulate arcades, were created in 1712 by the god of honor Bernhard Bendel .

On the north wall of the transept there are two paintings by a master unknown by name with scenes from the legend of Ulrich, between 1455 and a late Gothic image of the Madonna. The statue of Our Lady on the northwestern crossing pillar is estimated to be in the year 1495 and is attributed to Gregor Erhart . In the lower church , the late antique stone sarcophagus with the bones of St. Afra found a place in the burial chapel. Opposite is the burial chapel of St. Ulrich, which was designed in rococo style in 1762.


High altar

The pulpit and choir altars are made by the woodcarver Hans Degler from Weilheim . The altars, which were built between 1604 and 1607, have the Pentecost miracle , the birth of Christ and Christ's resurrection as motifs and thus remind of the three highest Christian feast days.

The high altar is said to be based on a design by Hans Krumpers. The five-storey wooden structure bears numerous mounted (painted) carved figures and almost free-form sculptural groups. In the middle shrine the birth of Christ is depicted in the manner of a nativity scene. In the extract (upper part) you can see the coronation Mariae, on the side the Hll. Peter and Paul . The back of the altar is painted ornamentally like that of the side altars.

Together with the two similar side altars, the high altar is an “excellent example of the reinterpretation of a late medieval church interior in the spirit of the Counter Reformation (Dehio manual) and one of the most important showpieces of the South German Renaissance. The altars already reveal numerous early baroque tendencies, but some are designed in a more popular Gothic style. The altarpiece ensemble of the late Renaissance and early Baroque blends for this reason well in the late Gothic room one whose features otherwise limited to a few, but high-level pieces.

The side altars are only four storeys high and stand on effective stepped platforms with marble balustrades from 1712.

The north altar is St. Consecrated to Afra. In the predella , the saint refuses to sacrifice to idols (supplement: Johann Evangelist Stiefenhofer, 1873). The middle shrine contains the miracle of Pentecost. Laterally the Hll. Rochus and Sebastian the scene. In the excerpt the saint can be seen at the stake. Above, Mary is enthroned as Queen of the Martyrs .

The Ulrichs altar in the south shows the saint with deacons and angels in the Predellan niche. The resurrection of Christ in the central shrine is represented by the sculptures of St. Ambrosius and Augustine accompanied.

Degler's imposing oak pulpit (1608), which may also have been made to a design by Krumpers, is coordinated with the altars . The polygonal basket is supported by two Corinthian columns, the sound cover is supported by two angels. Above, the baby Jesus is surrounded by angelic baths.


Simpertus Chapel with canopy

Four chapels are added to the south aisle. The Benedictine Chapel in the west has a star vault, the keystone of which bears the coat of arms of the Stammler von Ast. In 1590 Veit Rieger expanded the chapel into a burial place for Octavianus Secundus Fugger . The red marble coat of arms stone Fugger-Kirchheim-Weißenhorn was created in the same year. The altar in the form of a triumphal arch comes from Wendel Dietrich, the altar sheet was painted by Peter Candid around 1592. With the depiction of the veneration of the Mother of God by St. Benedict and Francis you can see a view of the city of Augsburg.

In front of the Simpertus Chapel with a tracery arch from 1496 there are terracotta statues of Christ and the Apostles on the arcade barriers by the Florentine Carlo Pallago in 1582 . The chapel was donated as early as 1479. The “baroque” richness of the late Gothic canopy was created as a deliberate contrast to the sober rigor of the architecture. The keystone of the star vault shows the coat of arms of the abbot John of Validlingen. The tomb of St. Simpertus is attributed to Jakob Herkommer. Behind the Tumba figure, people seeking help and the raising of a dead child by the saint were depicted. The bones of St. Simpertus are kept in a shrine in the altar. The Abbot's Chapel was formerly located above the Simpertus Chapel, and its rich tracery parapet also enriches the picture.

The Andreas Chapel also goes back to a foundation of the Fugger family (1480) and was expanded from 1578 to 1584 as a burial chapel for Markus Fugger. The three-storey winged altar made of marbled and gilded wood shows the crucifixion and passion of Christ (designed by Friedrich Sustris, executed around 1580 by Wendel Dietrich). The chapel and the Simpertus chapel are closed by the arcade barrier from 1582.

The George Chapel , built around 1480, was also rededicated as Georg Fugger's burial chapel in 1563. The epitaph for Johann Jakob Fugger and Ursula von Harrach was originally created around 1554/58 for the Dominican Church. On the altar sheet is Mary with angels and the Saints. Ulrich and Afra shown ( Peter Candid , 1594 based on a design by Christoph Schwartz ). At the bottom you can again see a cityscape. The altar itself was not built until 1629.

On the south side there is also the entrance to the healing chamber with its remarkable church treasures.

From 1596 to 1602 , Philipp Eduard Fugger had the Bartholomäus chapel on the northeast corner acquired by Anton Fugger in 1589 designed as a burial place for himself and his wife. Since 2007, thanks to a foundation, 30 icons from the 17th to 19th centuries have been on display in the church's Bartholomäus chapel as a “place of icons”. The icons come mainly from the painter's village Palech , but also from Moscow and Yaroslavl.

The Marian or Snail Chapel above the sacristy from 1600 houses the former high altar, a posthumous Gothic carving from 1570.

The Pieta chapel under the tower is equipped with a late Gothic Pietà in a golden frame and a Magnificat window.


Ulrich organ

On the west side of the central nave is the Ulrich organ, the case of which dates from 1608. Its work has been renewed several times, most recently in 1982/1998 by the organ building company Sandtner from Dillingen. With its 68 sounding stops on four manuals ( mechanical action mechanism ) and pedal work , its disposition is based on various currents and high points in the history of organ building. The organ gallery dates from 1606 and is donated to a Jakob III foundation. Fuggers back. A relief in front of the pipes reminds of the patron . Paulus III created the prospectus . Mair (1608) based on a design by Matthias Kager . Mair also painted the two wings with the ascents of Christ and Our Lady. The outside of the organ wings have been split off and now hang on the south wall of the choir.

Somewhat more hidden - in the snail chapel above the sacristy - is the Marienorgel (II / 18, built in 1925 by the Hindelang brothers , Ebenhofen / Allgäu). The organ was completely overhauled in 2010 by Robert Knöpfler (organ builder Rudolf Kubak ).

In the high choir of the basilica there is also a mobile positive (I / 6).


The monumental bell of the basilica has consisted of ten church bells since 2002 . In addition to the existing seven bells, including the death bell from the 12th century, three new ones were cast by the Rudolf Perner bell foundry . This means that the basilica has the most extensive bell in the Diocese of Augsburg .

Casting year
Foundry, casting location
(16th note)
1 Ulrich and Afra 1948 Kuhn-Wolfart, Lauingen 1980 4420 as 0 −2
2 Simpertus 1765 2990 b 0 -3
3 Mother of God 1560 2128 c 1 -4
4th Antony 1305 1271 it 1 –4
5 Joseph 1148 844 f 1 -8
6th Francis Xaverius 1923 Hahn, Landshut 940 470 as 1 -4
7th reconciliation 2001 Perner, Passau 879 393 b 1 -2
8th Crescentia 778 292 des 2 ± 0
9 Holy year 2000 1999 630 176 f 2 -2
10 Death bells End of the 12th century ? 630 257 b 2 -7

Healing Chamber

The medieval reliquary treasure of the former Benedictine monastery and imperial minster is collected here in five showcases. The healing chamber was inaugurated on April 23rd in the Afra anniversary year 2004 in the former Gregorkapelle.

Pope visits


At the beginning of October 1808, one of the first telegraphic posts was set up in Augsburg : the Ulrichskirche gallery gave signs in white, blue and red flags, enabling communication with other posts / cities over long distances in a short time. This system was not used in northern Germany until the 1830s. Augsburg was thus one of the first cities in Germany to use this medium imported from France .


  • Georg Dehio : Handbook of the German art monuments. Bavaria III: Swabia . Arranged by Bruno Bushart and Georg Paula, Munich 1989.
  • Bernt von Hagen, Angelika Wegener-Hüssen: Monuments in Bavaria, Volume 83: 7, Swabia, rural districts and independent cities. City of Augsburg ( monument topography Federal Republic of Germany ). Munich 1994, ISBN 3-87490-572-1 .
  • Norbert Lieb: Augsburg St. Ulrich and Afra. 24th edition. Schnell & Steiner Art Guide, 183. Regensburg 2003, ISBN 3-7954-4171-4 .
  • Tobias Rimek: The polyphonic repertoire of the Benedictine abbey of St. Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg (1549–1632). Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart 2015, ISBN 978-3-89948-231-7 .
  • Barnabas Schroeder: The abolition of the Benedictine imperial monastery St. Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg 1802-1806. A contribution to the history of secularization in the Electorate of Bavaria. Munich 1929.
  • Monika Soffner Loibl, Franz Wolf: Augsburg, St. Ulrich and Afra basilica. Peda-Kunstführer, 569. Passau 2004, ISBN 3-89643-569-8 .
  • Joachim Werner , Aladár Radnóti : The excavations in St. Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg 1961–1968. Munich contributions to prehistory and early history, 2 vols. Munich 1977.

Web links

Commons : St. Ulrich und Afra (Augsburg)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Diocese of Augsburg
  2. Article on the Barbara monument in the Augsburger Stadtlexikon
  3. see page about the book
  4. Source: Leaflet “Place of Icons”, ed. Catholic parish of Ortisei and Afra
  5. ^ Report on the inauguration of the St. Mary's Organ from AZ
  6. ^ Augsburgische Ordinari Postzeitung, Nro. 239, Freytag, October 6th, 1809, p. 4.

Coordinates: 48 ° 21 ′ 41.6 ″  N , 10 ° 54 ′ 0.9 ″  E