Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Church of the Holy Spirit - Heidelberg

The Church of the Holy Spirit is in the middle of the market place in Heidelberg, not far from Heidelberg Castle.
Heidelberg Castle is in the background. The Hercules statue on the Hercules Fountain in the market place is in the foreground. The Church of the Holy Spirit is to the right of Hercules.
The Church of the Holy Spirit viewed from Heidelberg Castle. The Neckar River is in the background. 
The Church of the Holy Spirit. The Hercules Fountain is in front of and just to the right of the church. 
It houses the Evangelical Church in Baden, a united Protestant church which is a union of Lutheran and reformed Protestant churches, but there have been times in its history when it housed both Catholic and Protestant churches (from about 1706 to 1936), with physical dividers inside the church that allowed both groups to meet at the same time. 
View of the altar from the front of the church.
The altar.

Front of the church from near the altar.

Ceiling ornament.
Ceiling mural.
The current church is the third on the site. The foundations of the church were laid in 1398 on the site of a Romanesque basilica. That basilica was erected over the site of an even older church. Construction took over 150 years. The choir was finished in 1411, the nave in 1441. Then work stopped until 1508 and the tower was finished in 1544. In 1633 it was set on fire by the French army of King Ludwig XIV in the Palatine War of Succession. The damage required reconstruction of the roof in 1709, including a new spire, in a baroque style.
Baroque spire
The Palatine Library, or Bibliotheca Palatina, numbered 5,000 printed books and 3,524 manuscripts and was the most important library of the German Renaissance. The library began in the 1430s because the Church of the Holy Spirit had good light for reading. The library included: (a) The Lorsch Gospels, an illuminated Gospel Book written between 778 and 820, coinciding with Charlemagne's rule over the Frankish Empire. The manuscript and the carved ivory panels from the cover were rare and important from the art of that period. (b) On The Art of Hunting with Birds, a treatise in Latin on ornithology and falconry written in the 1240s by the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II of the House of Hohenstaufen, who dedicated it to his son Manfred. (c) The Codex Manesse, a medieval songbook which was written and illustrated between 1304 and 1340 in Zurich for the Manesse family. It is the single most comprehensive source of Middle High German Minnesang poetry. (d) The Survey of Saxon Law, the most important law book and custumal of the German Middle Ages, written in 1220 as a record of existing customary law. During the Thirty Years War Heidelberg was sacked by the Catholic League in 1622. The majority of the Palatine Libratry was presented to Pope Gregory XV as a sign of loyalty and esteem by Maximilian of Bavaria. Pope Gregory incorporated the manuscripts into the Vatican Library where the majority of it remains today.

The "Physics" window was one of a number of stained glass windows that had to be replaced when bomb blasts set off to destroy the bridges on the Neckar River by the departing German troops during World War II destroyed them. This replacement window is by Johannes Schreiter. The date the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima is inserted (August 6, 1945) as is the equation developed by the German scientist (Alfred Einstein) that made the atom bomb possible.  Two scriptures are also inserted: 2 Peter 3:10 ("the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up") and Isaiah 54:10 ("Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken"). Schreiter developed this window as one of a series of windows to honor the Palatine Library. He had other proposed windows on music, literature, philosophy, chemistry, biology, medicine, physics, economics, media and traffic. The designs were too radical for the church so they opened up a competition for the remaining windows and selected another artist. There is also a bronze model of an atom in the church. I have to assume that the fact these two items are together in the same church is not a coincidence.
Physics Window

Other stained glass in the church.

Gargoyles on the outside of the church have a trough cut in the back to channel rainwater through an open mouth away from the side of the building to keep it from eroding the mortar. The elongated shape gives greater distance to the water.

Outside the Church of the Holy Spirit in the Market Place (Marktplatz), the largest square in Heidelberg, is the Hercules Fountain, built between 1706 and 1709 by the Hungarian sculptor Heinrich Charrasky as a reminder of the immense efforts required to rebuild the city after its almost total destruction in the War of Palatinate Succession from 1689 to 1693. The original statue is in the Kurpfalzisches Museum, what is there today is a copy.

The Hotel Ritter is across the street from the Church of the Holy Spirit.
Fun carvings in the stone of the Hotel Ritter.


  1. I love this church. I love how it is so tightly surrounded by the other buildings. I love the sharing of space. I love the contrast of the Gothic architecture and the Atomic age, the peaceful stained glass and the angry red window acknowledging death and destruction. This seems to be a church of the people in every way.

  2. I love the city pictures in the beginning. These amazing churches just never disappoint.

  3. Church environment is quite amazing. The structures around it are beautiful