In a previous post we left off at St. Anna’s Church – where one of the key documents of the Reformation came to be: the Augsburg Confession, presented to the Holy Roman Emperor at the Diet of Augsburg on June 25, 1530. It consisted of 28 articles of faith, which became the foundational document of the Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Reformation.
The name Anna means: mercy, grace, prayer and charity – to which she still testifies today, according to the official St. Anne’s website.
Built by Carmelite monks in 1321, this medieval Roman Catholic church, with later gothic additions, converted to Lutheranism in 1545. Here is where Martin Luther resided with the friars while awaiting to meet the papal delegate, Italian Cardinal Thomas Gaetanus (Tommaso Cajetan), who would demand that Luther submit to the Pope.
The interior of the church is quite spectacular, with its Baroque and Rococo ceilings, ornate Goldsmith’s Chapel and Baroque frescoes. The latter painted by the Bavarian artist, Johan Georg Bergmüller (1688-1762).
Over the centuries several additions were built and renovations took place at different times. During World War II, the church suffered extensive damage. Significant renovations took place after the war and lasted until 1952. To this date, ongoing renovations ensure that the church maintains its historical importance and brilliance.
The Luther Museum within the church provides extensive information on all aspects of Luther’s life, work and struggle.
As we continued our walk around the city, we found the Barfüsserkirche (literally: the church of those with bare feet), which is in fact the Church of the Discalced Friars, and the religious order by that name.
Built in 1243 by Franciscan friars, it burnt down in 1398. A gothic stucture was built over the original foundation and construction lasted four years, to 1411. When the Franciscan convent dissolved in 1535 and the friars were forced to leave, it was taken over by the Lutherans. It became the city’s first protestant house of worship, and it is where the first protestant preaching took place. In 1536 it became a protestant parish church.
Poet and dramatist Bertolt Brecht was baptized at Barfüsser Church and among the church’s notable visitors were Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (whose paternal house is in Augsburg), and theologian, philosopher, organist and missionary Arthur Schweitzer (one of those multi-talented geniuses…)
The church suffered major damage during the 1944 British airstrike. The interior was completely destroyed. It took many years to rebuild the church, which is now a much simpler and sober structure. The ornate organ replaced by a modern, less opulent organ.
Heading to the station for our trip home, we passed this nice organ player who kept everyone in happy spirits… and if he looks bundled up: it was January after all.
In March, I made a return visit with another set of friends, mainly to visit the synagogue, which was closed the first time around. It became another fascinating day of discoveries.
The “Black Synagogue” – is one of the few synagogues to have survived Word War II. Dating from 1917, the interior of the synagogue is completely black. The exterior is Art Nouveau with a mixture of Art Deco, Moorish and Oriental components.
Walking inside the black synagogue, one is overcome by a feeling of awe-inspiring majesty. I haven’t seen any synagogue quite like this one. Definitely worth a detour when you’re visiting this region.
Unfortunately picture-taking wasn’t allowed but the link below will give you a sense of the place, as does the 360• view of this temple.
Saints Ulrich and Afra Basilica
Finally, at the end of Maximilianstraße, we visited the Roman Catholic Saints Ulrich and Afra Basilica with a smaller Protestant church attached and to the front of it. A very unique combination! This was the result of the 30-year war, when these two church properties were divided into catholic and protestant, as they stand today. While we were able to take in the rich artifacts of the basilica, regrettably, the smaller protestant church was closed.
The Basilica was formerly a Benedictine Abbey. The original structure dates as far back as the 10th. Century, and history seems to indicate that an even older structure predated the 10th. Century. Later construction was in Romanesque style.
In 1012, Benedictine monks established a convent, which existed until 1802, when it was dissolved in the course of the secularization of Bavaria. It served as a French military hospital in 1805. In 1807 it changed into the Bavarian cavalry barracks, which stood until World War II. The buildings were destroyed during the 1944 aerial strikes.
The present structure has a building history that spans well beyond a century. The combination of Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo interior decoration is framed by a late gothic structure.
Inside is an imposing high altar, a smaller (relatively speaking) Schneckenkapelle (or snail’s chapel – due to its look resembling a snail’s shell). The chapel of St. Simper is surrounded by latticework and frescoes; statues of the apostles standing guard atop the structure.
Remarkable Fugger-latticework graces the entrance to the basilica completing the stupendous interior artwork.
Augsburg has many more historical structures, too many to take in over a couple of days. Maybe I’ll return at some later point to discover the city’s other treasures.
From mistakenly thinking this to be a boring city, I have become an avid Augsburg-aficionado. Munich may be the go-to place in Bavaria; however, I dare state that Augsburg tops it in cultural and historic wealth – very biased indeed… Not to be missed when visiting this part of Germany!
And yes, Munich will be the point of interest in my next post – Nymphenburg Palace at any rate.