While exploring any European city you will no doubtedly come across a few churches. The Baroque Jesuit Church was a lovely surprise tucked away from the main street with an impressive façade what would give you the impression that the interior would be just as impressive, but there is very little left of the original interior.
Construction of the church began sometime in the early 1700’s. The interior is now painted in white which can give it an antiseptic feeling. Once inside you will find a Pieta and a colorful painting of Pope John Paul II.
I you are walking around, it is definitely worth a few minutes of your time.
The Church of the Jesuits caught my attention because of its lovely Baroque facade. Construction started in 1712 but the tower was added in late 19th century. Only an altar painting is left of the original interior but it is still nice in its white and clean style. There is a peculiar glass window in the facade where candles are lit but where you can also look into the church without entering. Next to it is the little Museum for Ecclesiastical Arts that we never visited.
You cannot really miss Heiliggeistkirche when you are in Heidelberg's old town because it is situated very central at the Marktplatz (market square). It was the burial place of the electors of the Palatine.
I find the history of this church very interesting.
There had been a church on this place in the 13th century of a similar name which was destroyed by a fire in the 14th century. Therefore, another church, of gothic style, was built. But shortly after, in 1398, half of it was torn down to reconstruct it with a bigger size. It was finished in 1441 by Elector Ludwig III, who also started the famous Bibliotheca Palatina (library of the Palatine) by collecting books and storing them in the church. The tower was added in the 16th century.
During the reformation the church became protestant and the Heidelberger Katechismus, the most important textbook of the Reformed Church in Germany (a branch of the protestant church among several others) was written here. I grew up in a Reformed parish and remember with dread how I had to learn some texts of this book by hard before my confirmation ;-)
After the reformation and several palatine wars, the protestant and the catholic parishoners could not decide to whom the church would belong now, so they simply divided it by a wall - half of it was protestant, half catholic! I think this is most extra-ordinary!
It was only in 1936 that the quarrel was settled and the wall torn down, so now it is a hundred per cent a protestant church.
In the mid 17th century, the Lutherans in Heidelberg were not that many. Still, they needed somewhere to go and in 1659-61, the Kurfurst Karl Ludwig therefore had this beautiful church built in what were formerly gardens. It sadly burned down in 1693, as so much of Heidelberg did in the fire during the 17th century wars, but was rebuilt and in 1717 therefore also had its tower built. In the 19th century, the Lutherans and Reformists were united and the parish grew. The interior also changed during this time and became much more light and spacious in Neo-Renaissance style. It reminds me a lot of the cathedral in Gothenburg but without its bricks.
The Jesuitenkirche (Church of jesuits) is located in Merianstraße, only a few metres away from Hauptstraße. I did not plan to go here in advance, but just caught a glimpse of a big building when I walked along Hauptstraße, follow the small street and thus found the church. At first, I was not sure if it realy was a church: From the outside, it is very impressive - to be precise, not very friendly. The surprise was even bigger when I entered because the interior is just beautiful. It's all spotless white, with a lot of gold and many colours, and it looks very elegant and precious. I think you really should not miss it when you are in Heidelberg, at least when you are interested in this kind of thing.
The church is actually not really called "Jesuitenkirche", but "Pfarrkirche Heiliger Geist und St. Ignatius" (Parish Church of the Holy Ghost and St. Ignatius). It was constructed between 1712 and 1759 in baroque style, the tower was added in the 19th century.
The jesuits came to Heidelberg to help with the return of catholicism after the reformation, they were very active at the university. They left Heidelberg in 1773 and the church was used for worldy purposes, especially as a military hospital during Napoleon's wars. Because of this, nothing is left of the original church interior. In 1809, the church was given to the catholic parish because Heiliggeistkirche had become too small, and the interior of that church was brought over to Jesuitenkirche.
Next to the church, there is a museum of sacral arts (Museum für sacrale Kunst), but I did not go there.
The Jesuitenkirche was built in 1751 (the Jesuits arrived in Heidelberg in the mid-1600s).
It has a pretty impressive facade, so one might expect the interior to be equally ornate. so I was surprised to find that it is a cool, white, plain and lofty space: an oasis of quiet in which to sit and think on a hot and humid day.
Worth a few minutes of anyone's time, I think.
Behind the Jesuitenkirche, there is a small garden. You can access it through the church, through a door at the side of the building. It is a wonderfully calm place with many flowers, a bench where you can sit down, a very small pond and some creative sculptures. Moreover, it is so silent that I could hardly believe it - in the middle of the town! I felt like being miles away from it all.
It is a wonderful place to sit down and relax a bit from exploring, I had a break here and ate and drank something before continuing my tour of Heidelberg.
We wandered into a square off the main shopping street and faced an austere church. Once inside we say how elegant it was. Mostly white with understated decor, it was just beautiful Well worth a visit. Some interesting religious exhibits.
We visited the Jesuit Church on our way to Heidelberg Castle. This is a very nice Baroque style church with the funkiest nativity set I've seen so far (where funds from selling postcards of it would go to a children's charity in Bethlehem). They had just completed some works when we visited it.
I was impressed by the white interior because the exterior is pinkish. I liked the chandeliers and the altar, and that it didn't have a *lot* of decorations like in most Catholic churches I've seen. I have a very small video of what I think was an opera solo rehearsal, it was very nice to hear the acoustics while looking at the church.
When visiting the church, be respectful of those who go there to pray and find a moment of silence.
Located right in the heart of the old town, the Church of the Holy Spirit is one of the most prominent landmarks in the city, perhaps second only to the castle. Construction of the church began in 1398, though it was built in stages and was not completed until quite a long time after that. Tthe chancel was not completed until 1410, followed by the nave in 1441. There was also a delay in the construction of the church tower, which was started again in 1508. The chancel contained the tombs of the Prince Electors of the Palatinate. Most of the memorial tablets were destroyed in 1693. Of the original 54 epitaphs, the only one remaining is that of Prince Elector Ruprecht II (1352-1410).
The church frequently changed its religious denomination over the years and was used at different times by Catholics as well as Protestants. A partition barrier was even erected in 1706 because both denominations wanted to hold services there. For 230 years, the barrier stayed in place until it was removed in 1936. Today, the Church of the Holy Spirit is a Protestant Church.
While on vacation in Europe, take a moment to stop by this excellent American Church.
Sunday School 10:00 A.M.
Sunday Morning Worship 11:00 A.M.
Sunday Evening Worship / Patch the Pirate 6:00 P.M.
Wednesday Evening Prayer Service 7:00 P.M.
While Heidelberg has its share of churches, St. Peter's Church, is a pretty church by the University. According to my interpretation of the sign, it was started in 1485. It is almost right below the hike up to the castle.
. . . or in Heidelberg, visit the churches. There are several worth the time.
We started with the Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit) on the Marktplatz opposite the Tourist Office. The inside is amazing. There are stained glass windows on one side that are traditional and on the other side are very modern stained glass windows. We looked for an explanation but failed to find one. There was a timeline on the north wall that gave a history of the Heiliggeistkirche. It was completely in German so we couldn't read all of it, but putting names and dates together, we made sense of it.
The church started as a Catholic church and has gone through several changes including many years when there was a wall across the center of the church so both Protestant and Catholic services could be held without disturbing each other. It has been a Protestant church since 1936.
Do look up because the ceilings are beautiful.
The Jesuit Church (Jesuitenkirche) St. Ignatius is another famous Heidelberg church, close to the probably better-known Heiliggeistkirche. The baroque Jesuit Church was built from 1712 to 1759 by the jesuit monastic order, in an attempt to win back the local population (mainly Protestants) to the catholic faith.
I was shocked how close a church and a sex shop are together in Heidelberg, it felt more like being in Amsterdam than where I was ;-)