As mentioned in my previous post, Augsburg’s population is 259,196 and is renowned as a centre for gold and silver.
After exploring the Fuggerei and its bunker, Jackson and I wandered back to the centre to visit Town Hall.
The Renaissance-style Town Hall was built in the 1600s, its showpiece, the magnificent Goldene Saal, is a display of art and history. The door panels intricately carved. Paintings and murals depict historic scenes and timelines as do the coffered ceilings. It is in this hall, that Joseph I held a banquet, on his coronation as Holy Roman Emperor.
To describe this ceremonial room would easily take up a chapter….let’s stick to pictures instead. Admittedly it wasn’t easy to photograph gold without a proper filter, and do it justice but at least this gives an idea.
On the North wall are frescoes of 8 heathen (read: Roman) emperors and on the South wall, frescoes of 8 Christian emperors. The inscriptions denote the victory of Christianity over heathendom. One reads: Veni Vidi Deus Vicit (I came, I saw, God Conquered) as a counter to Julius Cæsar’s famous quote: Veni Vidi Vici (I came, I saw, I conquered).
At the four ends of the hall are the Prince’s Rooms, where distinguished visitors were housed. The rooms were decorated in the same way as the great hall. Paneled walls, intricate ceiling carvings. The entire surface covered with beautiful parquet floors.
A major economic centre of continental Europe, Augsburg suffered great losses during the Thirty Year’s War (1618-1648). Not only did its economy suffer, the city also lost half its population. It is not until the latter part of the seventeenth century that Augsburg regained some of its former importance.
We passed the 70 m (Ft.229.5) high Perlachturm (Perlach tower), now part of City Hall, which had been built in the 10th. Century and served as a watchtower.
As we ambled further, we dropped in at St. Moritz Church. According to its history, St. Moritz was the parish church of the Fuggers. In 1515, Jakob Fugger became and advocate for better sermons. Two years later, Pope Leo X granted Fugger and his heirs patronage of the preaching position for this church. To this day, the Fugger family has the right to make the first proposal for a parish priest. In 1944 this church, along with Jakob Fugger the Rich’s birthplace, were destroyed. The present, restored building is an achievement of light and lightness, as the pictures demonstrate. English architect, John Pawson, transformed St. Moritz to its present beauty. To see what the church looked like before and the transformation process, follow this link: http://www.detail-online.com/architecture/topics/meditation-in-white-john-pawsons-conversion-of-st-moritz-church-augsburg-021351.html
The entrance of St. Moritz greets the visitor with an impressive door carving. Once inside, the immediate sense is one of incredible lightness and joy. The centerpiece of the altar is the statue of “Christus Salvator Mundi” – Christ, Saviour of the World, donated by Ottheinrich Fugger around 1631. The work is from Georg Petel named the “German Michelangelo”. Jackson commented how the minimalistic architecture accomplished so much. It’s quite the contrast to the Baroque and Rococo Churches we’ve visited and you have witnessed in previous posts.
A woman who saw our delight, came up to us and introduced herself as a volunteer and church member. She was more than happy to relate the story how this church came to be what it is today. She explained how the congregation needed to decide whether to maintain its original Baroque interior and statues, with the traditional crucifix at the front, or whether the church should convey something more positive.
After much deliberation, they decided that it was important to stress the resurrected Christ, as the final step of Christ’s work of reconciliation. The risen Christ was therefore placed as centerpiece. The alabaster lancet widows framing the statue, the smaller organs ensconced behind the side walls.
The crucifix has a separate alcove chapel at the North Transept. Frescoes and statues of Mary and of saints are alongside the outer walls. Another enclosed Mary SE of the Nave, golden of course, and an alabaster window above.
High up, opposite the Altar, the organ.
It was truly amazing how the lightness of this sanctuary carried over to us, lifting our spirits. It was beautiful.
From St. Moritz church, we went to St. Anna Church, where the Reformation began… but that’s another chapter to be continued in my next post.
Until then, I wish those where Winter still keeps a tight grip, milder and friendlier weather!