St. Nicholas' Church, Hamburg - History - After World War II

After World War II

The basic structure of the gothic church remained intact to a large extent and reconstruction was a realistic option. Nevertheless, it was decided to demolish the nave while leaving the spire untouched. As the vicinity of the church was no longer a residential area, a new Church of St. Nicholas was built in the district of Harvestehude. In 1951 the nave was finally demolished and the rubble was partially used for the reinforcement of the banks of the river Elbe.

The loss of a valuable gothic revival architectural monument was regretted by many, but after the war there were other priorities as far as reconstruction was concerned. Compared to the Church of Michael the Archangel, the Church of St. Nicholas was not regarded as one of Hamburg’s important landmarks.

The spire and some remains of the wall were preserved as a memorial against the war. For several decades they were not cared for, and, consequently, they gradually decayed. In 1987 the Rettet die Nikolaikirche e.V. foundation began to restore the existing fabric of the building and erected a so-called "place of encounters" (a room for events and exhibitions) in the crypt. The organization attempts to salvage pieces of rubble that were removed in 1951, such as pieces from the destroyed nave pulled from the River Elbe in November 2000. A reconstruction of the church, as it was done with the Church of Our Lady in Dresden, is not intended. However, a 51-bell carillon was installed in 1993 as a memorial.

Since 1 September 2005, an elevator has taken visitors to a 75.3 metre-high platform inside the spire to enjoy history panels and a panoramic view over Hamburg and in particular the nearby Speicherstadt (lit. city of warehouses).

Read more about this topic:  St. Nicholas' Church, Hamburg, History

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