Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hamburg - St Peter's Church

Date: 13th October 2014

I like to visit cathedrals, churches, monasteries, temples, i.e the house of worship whenever I visited a non-Muslim country. The feeling of being able to explore inside gives a mutual sense of devotion to the Almighty. I cant' help but to acknowledge that all of us, the worshipers despite different religion, the monotheist are praying to the same God but with different beliefs. In the end, only He knows who came to see Him with sincere hearts. The last visit I made to the Batu Caves temple on 26th December 2015, Syahirah and I keep on repeating syahadah while we climbed 272 steps to reach the top. We hope He knew that we did not idolized Him in whatever manner. 

The Germans called St. Peter’s church as “Hauptkirche St. Petri” or “Petrikirche” and is a beautiful church in Hamburg stands on the site of many former cathedrals. It was built by the order of Pope Leo X and has been a Protestant cathedral since the Reformation. Its congregation forms part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany. It was not open when we reached the cathedral at late evening. It was strange as I thought it should welcome all the worshipers to enter despite any time they arrived. They must have their own reasons to do so, I do not have any right to judge as the Quran keep on reminding me for not doubting and not being a hypocrite, surah 2 verse 10 "In their hearts is a disease (of doubt and hypocrisy) and Allah has increased their disease. A painful torment is theirs because they used to tell lies".

It is believed that the church is near the original Hammaburg area and that previous cathedral was existed on the site. St. Peter's was probably built in the beginning of the 1189 although it was first documented in 1195 as a market cathedral or ecclesia forensis. In about 1310, the cathedral was rebuilt in a Gothic style and was completed somewhere around year 1418. The bronze lion-head door handles, the oldest work of art of Hamburg, date from the foundation of the tower which was in 1342.

A second tower, built in 1516, higher above the Hamburg Cathedral. It's decay caused it to be torn down between year 1804 and 1807, after it had been used by Napoleonic soldiers as a horse stable. Then again, the building fell victim to the great fire that swept Hamburg in May 1842. Most works of art, such as the lion-head door handles, were saved by the church caretakers. However, the St. Peter's portal gateway was heavily damaged in the fire but was saved and ended up being built into the Museum fur Hamburgische Geschichte which was established in 1922 and was called Hamburg Museum since 2005. The doorway itself was restored again in 1995 by the Hamburg Museum.

Only 7 years after the great fire, the Gothic church was rebuilt by the architects Alexis de Chateauneuf and Hermann Felsenfest in its previous location. In 1878, the 132 meter high cathedral tower with its copper spire designed by Johann Maack was completed. In the first half of the 20th century, the parish lost many of its original members. It was when the residential neighborhoods were torn down to develop banks and department stores in the city center. But, the church got through the Second World War relatively intact. In 1962, as a nearby community center was being built, the foundations of a medieval tower, the Bischofsturm ("Bishop's Tower") were discovered.

In 1979, nuclear power protesters, including the late pastor Christoph Stoermer, occupied the cathedral. From 2005 to 2007, the west and south facades of the church were hung with giant posters advertising the H&M chain of clothing stores, thus providing funding for maintenance of the cathedral. The best known artworks in St Peter's are the lion-head door handles, located in the left wing of the west portal. However, the cathedral contains many additional works of art.

Though I've not been able to explore the inside view, I would like to give 5 cents of advice to those who are visiting soon to take note a few details that are worth to view. In the north portion of the cathedral, a Gothic mural from year 1460 shows the first bishop Ansgar of Bremen, with the words "Apostle of the North". A column in the choir area contains a statue by Bernt Notke, from around 1480-1483, showing Archbishop Ansgar and the Hamburg Marienkirche, which he founded. There are 2 oil paintings by Gottfried Libalt from the 17th century; "Jacob's Dream" and "Christ's Birth". Unfortunately, they were damaged by an acid attack in 1977, but were restored in October, 2001, and returned to the cathedral when it original belongs. There is also a painting about Christmas in 1813 on a column in the south part of the cathedral. It shows the Hamburg citizens who, when they did not provide food to Napoleon's occupying troops, were locked in the church by the soldiers. In the front of the cathedral are neo-Gothic representations of the evangelists. A modern bronze sculpture by Fritz Fleer shows Dietrich Bonhoeffer dressed as a convict with his hands bound.

Oil painting by Gottfried Libalt "Jacob's Dream" downloaded
1342 Bronze Lion head door handles in St Petri

Lastly, before ending this shared articles from Wikipedia, a far distance photo of me and the tower clock of St Petri when I was at the Rathausmarkt.

2015 is going to end soon and I'm sure many of you are enjoying a last week of 2015 leisurely. Wish you a good wrap-up like I'm trying to wrap-up the last few entry for new year, 2016. Have fun in whatever you do, do not carry regrets. Cheers!

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