St. Nikolai

The Gothic Revival Church of St. Nicholas (St.-Nikolai-Kirche) was formerly one of the five Lutheran main churches in the city of Hamburg. It is now in ruins, serving as a memorial and an important architectural landmark. When
The church was the tallest building in the world from 1874 to 1876 and is still the second-tallest building in Hamburg.

The current condition of the Church of St. Nicholas is the result of air raids during World War II. The clearly visible spire of the Church of St. Nicholas served as a goal and orientation marker for the pilots of the Allied Air Forces during the extensive air raids on Hamburg. On 28 July 1943 the church was heavily damaged by aerial bombs. The roof collapsed and the interior of the nave suffered heavy damage. The walls began to show cracks, yet neither they nor the spire collapsed.

The English architect George Gilbert Scott, who was an expert for the restoration of medieval churches and an advocate of the gothic architectural style, was commissioned to devise a new design. He designed an 86 meter-long nave, with a 28 meter-high vault. The architecture was strongly influenced by French and English gothic styles, though the pointed spire is typically German. The amount of sculptures made from sandstone in the interior and on the spire was unusual.

I made several trips to St. Nikolai while I was in Hamburg. It was a reminder that not even something sacred can escape the destructive powers of war.

The once grand church doors now open onto rubble and debris.

Even though much of the Church now lay in ruin, it is still very beautiful and impressive.

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