Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


22.9.15
  More Mediaeval Brick Buildings

I'm back from my second Hanseatic League tour, with some 2,000 photos. The weather was a bit on the dreary side some days, but at least the rain poured down mostly during the night or when I could stay under cover.

Ratzeburg Cathedral, seen from the lake

First we get a very beautiful cathedral in Ratzeburg, a small town near Lübeck. The cathedral was founded by Heinrich the Lion and survives as Romanesque building, but it is constructed of bricks like the great Gothic cathedrals in northern Germany. In an area lacking stone quarries but rich in loam, bricks were the material more easily obtained.

Ratzeburg Cathedral, interior with view to the choir

I came a bit early and there was still Sunday service going on, with an additional organ concert. It was totally worth the wait until I could walk around with my camera.

St. Nicolai Church in Lüneburg, interior

We can compare the sturdy Romanesque columns with the slender pillars of a Gothic church with its soaring architecture that reaches towards Heaven. The example shown is my favourite of the churches in Lüneburg, St. Nicolai.

The cathedral in Schwerin; flying buttresses

Another typical feature of Gothic churches are the flying buttresses that support the high naves. The use of bricks makes them look less fragile and elegant than the ones built of sandstone; they give the brick architecture a more solid appearance even when it tries to imitate the flamboyant style.

Lübeck, Hospital of the Holy Spirit

The Hospital of the Holy Spirit in Lübeck had been scaffolded in when I went there in spring, but now the scaffolding has come off and the facade shines in new splendour. The hospital was commissioned by rich merchants in the 1260ies and provided housing for the poor until 1970. The foundation of the hospital still cares for old people.

Stralsund, the town hall

Brick architecture developed into an art form, with glazed bricks in black and white and sometimes bricks in other forms than the common rectangular ones, used as decorative elements. The town hall in Stralsund is a fine example.

Lüneburg, gabled houses

Rich citizens wanted to show their money by building representative houses, the so-called Dielenhäuser which held the office, storage space, and the living quarters in the back. Decorated gables became a common feature, and in the northern Hansa towns they are often created of bricks.

Stralsund, remains of the town walls

The towns of the Hanseatic League all had town walls in the Middle Ages, but often those were dismantled later to make room for more houses. Some, like Stralsund, retain at least parts of those fortifications.

Schwerin, the neo-Romanesque palace

The palace in Schwerin is not Mediaeval, but neo-Romanesque. But it is so over top with its turrets and oriels and gilded decorations that it's fun. *grin* Some rooms are a museum, the rest is taken up by the county government of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Don't miss the second photo post below.
 
Comments:
Love the church pics, inside and outside!
 
I prefer the sandstone blocks used to build churches etc but am impressed by the brick!
 
Those are stunning buildings, and great photos! What sort of date are the buildings? Over here I tend to associate spectacular brick buildings with the period from Henry VIII onward (e.g. Hampton Court).
 
Thank you Constance and Anerje.

Carla, it varies. The Ratzeburg Cathedral is late 12th century, the hospital in Lübeck 13th century, the Gothic churches usually 15th, and the houses can be anything from the 14th to 17th century.
 
Ratzeburg Cathedral is magnificent. We have numerous examples of similar brick buildings scattered across the northern Poland - the Teutonic knights'surviving legacy. We might have considered the knights our greatest enemy in the 14th/15th century, but we do owe sth to them now, don't we :-)
 
Kasia indeed. I've visited the cathedral in Gdansk and Malbork Castle (Marienburg) which is a fine example for military architecture made of bricks.
 
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The Lost Fort is a blog based on my travels in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and other places (like Flanders and the Baltic States), with essays on Roman and Mediaeval history illustrated with lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes. You may also find the odd essay about geology or Mediaeval literature.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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Location: Germany

I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who hasn't yet gotten an Instagram account. :-)


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