Saturday, April 25, 2015

2014 Germany Trip - St James's Church (Evangeliches-Lutheran Kirchengemeinde St. Jakob)

Location: Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Itinerary and full experience of my visit to Germany can be accessed through the link below:

My wife once asked me why I loved photographing churches. My reply to her was that I photographed not just churches, but most of the religious places, especially those which are historically rich in value and pleasing in aesthetics and architecture. To most people one church is no more different from another. For me however they each tell a different story. The stained glass weaves biblical lore and the spires, from the ornate to the simplistic, project the architect’s pride and dreams. St James’s Church in Rothenburg, one of its most important, is so similar yet so different.

St James's (St Jakob in German) Church

The sky reaching building is one of the tallest within the walls of Rothenburg, an impressive feat that is accentuated by the fact that it was built from 1453 to 1471. For those preparing on the pilgrimage known as the Way of St James, a route which ended in Camino de Santiago of Spain, it is one of the churches along the way. From the exterior I was surprised by the rather angular facade and ribs supporting the structure. Even though the Germans were known to be no-nonsense, most of their medieval architectures still spot lovely curvatures here and there.




Entrance into unknown

Looking down


Within the halls of St James's Church however were more artistic wonders for my camera to feast upon. The stain glass windows were mesmerizing as usual, telling biblical lore though the shifting lights of the sun. An onyx black wood carving became the center of my focus - the curiously named Christmas Boat's rowers looked up at me while frozen in mid-row, an eeriness accentuated by the blank look and oversized heads. These rowers were Africans, their features tellingly obvious and the explanation plaque besides the artwork further elaborated this as a gift of partnership from Partner-Deanery of Hai/Kilimanjaro of Tanzania. The dark wood was ebony, claimed as a difficult material to handle.

Christmas Boat


Blank looks

Stain glass 1

Stain glass 2

I made my way to the main altar to marvel at the gilded Twelve Apostles Altar, a work by Friedrich Herlin adorning the most important place of the church. Despite the eye-catching golden frame of the artwork, it was not the most treasured within the church - that honor belonged to Tilman Riemenschneider's Holy Blood altarpiece. Produced between 1199 and 1505, his work had survived 700 years of history to present one of his finest work, depicting the Last Supper on the shrine, Mount of Olives on the left wing, and scenes of entry into Jeruselam on the right. Compared to the former, this priceless work was dull and ignored.







Main altar

Twelve Apostles

Heaven geometries

Holy Blood altarpiece

Reaching up from the back of the altarpiece


Last Supper


St James's Church, whilst cavernous, would not take up much of a visitor's time. For art appreciators and history buffs, both of which I claim myself to be slightly associated, it is well worth a visit to get a whiff of the sense of beauty as defined by the Germans of the past but for curious travelers this is a place that could be deprioritized in a to-do list. This is especially true for a selfie addict.

Environment:         A historic church in an old town
Suitable for:            History buffs, church appreciators, religious
Visit worthiness:   6/10 (can be skipped if you are running out of time)
Historical value:        3.5/5.0 
Architectural value:  2.5/5.0
Photographic value: 3.0/5.0
Landmark value:       3.5/5.0

Entrance Fee:                 €2 (general), €0.50 (students)
Opening Hours:            (Apr - Oct)             9.00 a.m. -   5.15 p.m. 
                                              (Nov, Jan - Mar) 10.00 a.m. - 12.00 p.m., 2.00 p.m. - 4.00 p.m.
                                              (Dec)                     10.00 a.m. -   4.45 p.m.
Best Moment to Visit: Anytime of the day, daylight hours better
Length of Visit:              1 hour

Website:                   Tourist Information (German)

Contact:                    +49 (0) 9861 700 620
Address:                   Evangel.-Luth. Pfarramt u. Dekanat St Jakob, Klostergasse 15, 91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany.

  1. Wikipedia - St. James's Church, Rothenburg ob der Tauber

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