St Sebastian in Bonn, Germany. Built immediately after the Kulturkampf between 1888 and 1908 in a historistic style. Sebastian’s narthex, a small outer front hall, is featuring a row of columns with beautifully modeled capitals. They depict the four evangelists, framed by a pious angel and a roguish devil.
This is a shot I’ve taken almost ten years ago: a panoramic view of the Forum Romanum in Rome. I really recommend visiting this astounding place: you almost physically feel the connection to times long ago, and you feel how close you get to them. You will find many ruins of Roman cities in Europe, but you won’t find a similar place like this forum, that is residing in the heart of the eternal city for more than 2000 years.
Now for something completely different: La Maddalena in Rome is dedicated to St Mary Magdalene. It is situated at a very beautiful square I unfortunately failed to photograph adequately (next time!) and Rome’s only true Rococo church.
The following decades were under the banner of restoration. In architecture, as well as in politics: several autocratic principalities (or better: dictatorships) and a lot of kingdoms were constituting that part of Europe formerly known as Germany. The old empire was broken, there was no emperor, no (more or less) united German state, and the prince-electors and prince-bishops had lost their power, their dioceses, and the greatest part of their property.
(There was just that short episode, when the defeated French army annexed the cathedral in 1813 and used it as pigsty and sickbay. The greatest part of the wooden equipment was used up in those days.) 1814 the spook was over.
Most of the treasures were destroyed or sold; the new era of freedom, equality, and fraternity was needing money. All these secularized churches and monasteries were quite valuable; and if not the buildings itself, so was the ground they were built on.
1086 the cathedral burnt down, again. The following 200 years were a roller coaster ride between rebuilding and ruining. The Romanesque cathedral was finished and consecrated in 1239, and we can only barely guess how big the builder’s relief must have been.
The 13th century meant the beginning of the Gothic era in Germany (the first building operations for the gothic style Cologne Cathedral would start only 9 years after the finishing of Mainz Cathedral). By 1500 St Martin (that’s the cathedral’s name) was crowned with a gothic style crossing tower and flanked by gothic style chapels. Like this one, St Mary’s chapel.
While this altar in St Mary’s Chapel is mainly 19th century work, the figures aren’t. Flanked by saints Boniface and Martin, Mary has a surprisingly ‘modern’ face and figure: a young, attractive, and self-conscious mother. From 1515.
Mainz Cathedral has two choirs: a western and an eastern one. The reason for this is not fully understood, but the western is the more important one. Here are high altar and choir stalls located, here already the early cathedral imitated St Peter’s in Rome, which is also occidented, facing west.
Mainz Cathedral is old, really old. The city had its first mentioned bishop in the 4th century; churches, it seems, have always been where there is the cathedral now. When the world was awaiting apocalypse around 1000 AD, bishop Willigis ordered the first version of the cathedral. To hell with Armageddon, a church had to be built! Now!