The Lost Fort

My Travel and History Blog, Focussing mostly on Roman and Mediaeval Times


18 Sept 2005
  Brick Cathedrals - St. Mary's Church in Lübeck

This post will be rewritten with digital photos from a later visit to Lübeck.


St. Mary's Church (Marienkirche) was commissioned by the Council of Lübeck, and competed with the Cathedral, which was founded by Duke Heinrich and later became the church of the bishop. It replaced an older Romanesque church (which in its turn replaced the first wooden construction from 1160). Surrounded by houses and the Town Hall, St. Mary's Church is imposing from the outside - albeit you have to crane your neck back to see most of it - yet more so from the inside. It is a basilica with three naves and a choir; the middle nave being higher than the side naves so that light streams in from the windows, as you can see on the pic (which also shows the flying buttresses). The church is made of brick stones, but inside it is mostly painted in white; the edges of the pillar-supported arcs that hold the elaborate roof construction, are painted with red, dark green and golden ornaments. (Photo below).

The first impression, especially on a sunny day, is the brightness of the inside, and the enormous height of the naves (main nave 38.5 metres). The naves are separated by rows of pillars to hold the arched roof segments, the arcs are not perfect half-rounds, but slightly pointed (typical for the Gothic style), and the pillars are very slender, which adds to the impression of height and makes you feel like you are walking though a white alley of stone. With a length of 104 metres and a bredth of 58 metres, the church can well compete with its models, the great 13th century French cathedrals, While St. Mary's Church in the present form was built from 1251 onwards with the last finishing touches added about 1310, the simple ornaments are more like the older churches, not like the maginificent facades of fe. York Minster.

The strive for greater symmetry between parts of a building and the building in its entity, between the interior and the outside, led to the development of the Gothic style. It began in France (fe. St. Denis 1130-44, Laon 1160-1205) and reached a fist peak in the cathedrals of Chartres and Reims (1211-41). From there it made its way to England (Canterbury, Westminster), Germany (Strasbourg, Cologne) and Spain (Burges, Toledo). The style was further enhanced in the reconstruction of St.Denis (1231-41) and Troyes (ca 1240). About 1350, the very ornamental style flamboyant, or perpendicular style came into use.

Those who have read Eco's The Name of the Rose might remember some of the Mediaeval philosophy / theology about the way to see the things of this world as signs for something greater. Thus, every church was a symbol for the Holy Jerusalem and the Temple of Salomo, and it was a token of the faith of the people. The ecclesia materialis, the stone-made cathedral, stands for the ecclesia spiritualis, which is built again and again by the living bodies of the Christians gathering in the churches. The room enclosed by the church walls becomes a place not of this world, but a space where the soul by contemplation can reach the higher meanings of faith, a door to Heaven. For people who often could not read, the frescoes, altars, crucifixes, the figures carved in wood and hewn in stone, told the story of the Old Testament and the Gospel.

Beauty in Mediaeval times was defined by completeness, harmony and light / colour. After new techniques had been achieved which made it possible to leave more space between the supporting parts of architecture like walls, columns and arcs, the churches became brighter because of larger windows, and the slender pillars gave an additional feeling of space. There is indeed something to Mediaeval beauty: I always feel a sense of peace when I visit old churches (and I'm not a religious person). I suppose it is due to the harmony. Nowadays, many of the churches a painted white with only a few ornaments, but in Mediaeval times - already during the Romanesque phase - the walls were adorned with frescoes. These have often been lost, but I have seen a few churches were some of them are left. The same goes for the windows which were made of mulitcoloured glass, showing Biblical scenes. They often have been replaced by either simple glass windows, though bulls' eye-style, or with modern painted glass, which sometimes suits well, but sometimes not.

The time when the Gothic style developed (ca 1140 - 1260), was a time of change. New building techniques were achieved, the population increased because of better agriculture, the first steps towards natural science were done, new ways of idealised courtly life developed. The feudal system and with it the power structures also underwent considerable changes, and the towns gained in importance, as I have already explained in my post about the Hansa. Because of that, there was also an - mostly unacknowledged - element of competition in commissioning new and larger churches.

As I said, I was impressed by the size of the St. Mary, and by the light - maybe even more than when I visited it for the first time, and I almost forgot that most of St. Mary's Church is a reconstruction. The building had been severely damaged in 1942 and most of the valuable equipping was lost. The two large bells fell straight down from the tower and crashed to pieces on the flagstones. The shattered bells have been left as a memorial. When we first visited the place, my father, who had experienced bomb terror in Braunschweig, told about the war and the airborne attacks. The simple symbolism of the broken bells in an else perfectly reconstructed church made me cry then, and it made me weep again this time.

The pictures were scanned from postcards I bought in Lübeck. My visit to the town happened pre-digital camera times..
 




The Lost Fort is a travel and history blog based on my journeys in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, the Baltic Countries, and central Europe. It includes virtual town and castle tours with a focus on history, museum visits, hiking tours, and essays on Roman and Mediaeval history, illustrated with my own photos.


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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 still hasn't got an Instagram account.
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Mediaeval History

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Some historical events are linked under more than one country / subtitle due to the overarching nature of history.


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List of Mediaeval German Emperors

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Heinrich the Lion's Ancestors

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King Heinrich IV

House Welf and House Staufen
Emperor Otto IV, Introduction

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Princes
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Prince Wilhelm Malte of Putbus

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The Star Wars


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King Henry IV
King Henry's Lithuanian Crusade

Normans, Britons, Angevins

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Contested Borders

Northumbria
King Stephen's Troubles with King David of Scots


Scotland

Kings of Scots

House Dunkeld
Malcolm III and Northumbria
Struggle for the Throne: Malcolm III to David I
King David and the Civil War, Part 1
King David and the Civil War, Part 2

Houses Bruce and Stewart
The Early Stewart Kings

Local Troubles

Clan Feuds
MacLeans and MacDonalds
A Scottish Wedding

Scotland and England

The Wars of Independence
Alexander of Argyll
The Fight for Stirling Castle


Wales

Welsh Princes

The Princes of Gwynedd
The Rise of House Aberffraw

Wales and England

A History of Rebellion
Llywellyn ap Gruffudd to Owain Glyn Dŵr


Denmark

Kings of Denmark

House of Knýtlinga
Harald Bluetooth's Flight to Pomerania

Danish Rule in the Baltic Sea

The Duchy of Estonia
Danish Kings and German Sword Brothers


Norway

Kings of Norway

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King Eirik's Scottish Marriages
King Håkon V's Swedish Politics
Beginnings of the Kalmar Union

Feuds and Rebellions

Rebels
Alv Erlingsson of Tønsberg


Sweden

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Scandinavian Unity
Beginnings of the Kalmar Union


Livonia
(Latvia and Estonia)

Livonian Towns

Riga
The History of Mediaeval Riga

Tallinn
The History of Mediaeval Tallinn


Lithuania

Lithuanian Princes

The Geminid Dynasty
Troublesome Cousins - Jogaila and Vytautas

The Northern Crusades

The Wars in Lithuania
The Siege of Vilnius 1390


Poland

Royal Dynasties

The Jagiełłonian Kings
Władysław Jagiełło and the Polish-Lithuanian Union

The Northern Crusades

The Conquest of Pomerania / Prussia
The Conquest of Danzig


Bohemia

Royal Dynasties

The Bohemian Kings of House Luxembourg
King Sigismund and the Hussite Wars


Roman History

The Romans at War

Forts and Fortifications

The German Limes
The Cavalry Fort Aalen
Limes Fort Osterburken
Limes Fort Saalburg

The Hadrian's Wall
Introduction
The Fort at Segedunum / Wallsend

Border Life
Exercise Halls
Mile Castles and Watch Towers
Soldiers' Living Quarters
Cavalry Barracks

Campaigns and Battles

Maps
The Romans in Germania

The Pre-Varus Invasion in Germania
Roman Camp Hedemünden
New Finds in 2008

The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
Museum Park at Kalkriese

The Battle at the Harzhorn
Introduction

The Batavian Rebellion
A Short Introduction

Miscellaneous Events

The Legend of Alaric's Burial

Roman Militaria

Armour
Early Imperial Helmets
Late Roman Helmets
The Negau B Helmet

Weapons
Weapon Finds at Hedemünden
The pilum
Daggers
Swords

Other Equipment
Roman Saddles


Roman Life and Religion

Religion and Public Life

Religion
Curse Tablets and Good Luck Charms
Isis Worship
Memorial Stones
The Mithras Cult

Public Life
Roman Transport: Barges
Roman Transport: Amphorae and Barrels
Roman Water Supply

Architecture
Roman Public Baths

Domestic Life

Roman villae
Villa Urbana Longuich
Villa Rustica Wachenheim

Everyday Life
Bathing Habits
Children's Toys
Face Pots


Other Times

Neolithicum to Iron Age

Germany

Development of Civilisation
European Bread Museum, Ebergötzen
The Hutewald Project in the Solling
Open Air Museum Oerlinghausen

Neolithic Remains
Stone Burials of the Funnelbeaker Culture
The Necropolis of Oldendorf

Bronze Age / Iron Age
The Nydam Ship

Scotland

Neolithic Orkney
The Neolithic Landscape of Orkney
Ring of Brodgar
Skara Brae
Life in Skara Brae

Bronze Age / Iron Age
Clava Cairns
The Brochs of Gurness and Midhowe - Their Function in Iron Age Society

Scandinavia

Bronze / Iron Age
The Ship Setting of Gnisvärd / Gotland


Post-Mediaeval History

Explorers and Discoveries

Explorers
Fram Expedition to the North Pole
Fram Expedition to the South Pole

Discoveries
Otto von Guericke and the Magdeburg Hemispheres
Raising a Wreck, Now and Then (Vasa Museum in Stockholm)


Miscellanea

History in Literature and Music

History and Literature

The Weimar Classicism
The Weimar Classicism - Introduction

Theodor Fontane
Short Biography of Theodor Fontane
Fontane Ballads, translated by me
Archibald Douglas
Gorm Grymme
Sir Walter Scott in Abbotsford
The Tragedy of Afghanistan

History in Opera

Belcanto and Historicism
Maria Padilla - Mistress Royal
The Siege of Calais in Donizetti's Opera

Not so Serious History

Romans
Building Hadrian's Wall
Playmobil Romans

Mediaeval Times
Kings Having a Bad Hair Day
The Case of the Vanished Wine Cask

Other
Rules for Writing Scottish Romances


Geology

Geological Landscapes

The Baltic Sea
Geology of the Curonian Spit
Chalk Cliffs on Rugia
Flint Fields on Rugia

The Harz
Bode Valley and Rosstrappe Cliff
The 'Hübichenstein' Rock
Karst Formations in the Southern Harz
The Lonau Falls
The Rhume Springs
Sandstone Formations: Daneil's Cave
Sandstone Formations: Devil's Wall
Sandstone Formations: The Klus Rock

Meissner / Kaufunger Wald
Blue Dome near Eschwege
Diabase and Basalt Formations
Karst Formations
Salt Springs at the Werra

Solling-Vogler
Raised Bog Mecklenbruch
Hannover Cliffs

The Shores of Scotland
Staffa

Fossils and Other Odd Rocks

Fossilized Ammonites
The Loket Meteorite


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