Located Southeast of Sachsenplatz, between Nikolaistrasse and Ritterstrasse The St. Nicholas Church with a striking tower (75 m high) has long been one of the most famous in Leipzig.
It rose to national fame in 1989 with the Monday Demonstrations when it became the centre of peaceful revolt against communist rule.
The church was built around 1165 when Leipzig, also known as St. Nicholas's City, was founded.
It is built partially in the Romanesque style but was extended and enlarged in the early 16th century with a more Gothic style. In 1794 the interior was remodeled by German architect Johann Carl Friedrich Dauthe in the neoclassical style.
Opening hours: 10am-6pm; Closed: Sun.
The Nikolaikirche is a beautiful church with very unusual columns - they don`t follow the architectural model of Greek-Roman columns from antiquity but end in a "floral" pattern, giving the impression that the ceiling is supported by plant leaves. Apart from the exceptional interior, the church (dating back to the 12th century) - also has great historic importance: Luther preached here, composer Bach played his "Johannespassion" here for the first time, and in the 80`s, the regular "monday prayers" in this church developed into political demonstrations against the regime of the GDR, gaining momentum and finally leading to the downfall of the government in 1989.
This church has made history. From the prayers for peace that have taken place in Nikolaikirche every Monday night since 1982, the Monday demonstrations against the socialist regime started. The participants risked trouble, imprisonment, persecution. In the end their vision succeeded. From here the peaceful revolution of 1989 began.
For those who read German, I recommend the novel “Nikolaikirche” by Erich Loest (not sure if there is an English translation) which describes those exciting weeks and the background. There is also a movie with Ulrich Mühe in the role of the parson - yes, the same actor as in "The Life of Others".
If you prefer non-fiction, the real parson of Nikolaikirche has recently published his autobiography: "Und wir sind dabei gewesen. Die Revolution, die aus der Kirche kam" by Christian Führer. The book gives deep insight in the situation of the protestant church in DDR times, the peace movement and the events of 1989 as well as the situation after the reunification from a very personal point of view.
The oldest church in Leipzig was dedicated to Saint Nicolaus, the protector of the merchants. The western front still shows Romanesque elements, the rest is gothic, the steeple dates from 1555 with an 18th century spire.
The interior of the medieval church was redesigned in the late 18th century. City architect Dauthe created a masterpiece of neoclassical style. Palm trees carry the vaults. The interior is a symphony in white, pale green and pink with a little gold.
The church is open in the daytime.
St.Nickolas church is the bigget church in Leipzig. It was built in the 12th century in Romanesque style but later (14th -16th centuries) some parts (like the naves and chapels) were rebuilt in gothic style. I liked the bright interior (pic 2) that is was designed by Carl Dauthe in classical style with the pillars having a palm tree shape! It houses one of the largest organs in Germany.
Sankt Niklaus (270-330) is the patron saint of merchants but famous among german children too on December 6 when he supposed to fill one boot (that the children put outside the front door) with gifts and sweets (only if they were good children the last year). Yes, Santa Claus influenced from him :) In Greece we have the same custom with St.Basil (although it’s the parents that put the gifts in both countries but don’t tell this to the children) while St.Nicholas is the patron saint of the sailors (all the boats have paintings of him)
St.Nicholas church became famous because the peaceful revolution started here with prayers for peace and justice since 1982 every Monday, usually jut with candles and no violence (the army came when they thought it was a thread some years later when the prayers turned into huge demonstrations against GDR that lead into German reunification in 1989. The church is open daily 10.00-18.00 with no entrance fee.
After visiting the church we spend some minutes on the Nikolaikirchhof square where we noticed the pillars in palm tree shape like the ones inside the church and we took some photos (pic 3) of the Old St.Nickola’s School, the oldest civil school in Leipzig. It was opened in the beginning of the 16th century with many famous students like Wagner, Seume etc The house in the corner was added in 1738. The school moved in 1872 and the building was used as a police station for some time. It was restored in the 90s and houses a restaurant now.
The oldest church in Leipzig can be seen on the road from the station to the city center, and its sits on this busy street, squashed in by all the shops and restaurants around, and dominated by the giant communist office tower behind.
It was built in 1150, but has been renovated many times since, picking up on the way elements of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classicist architecture, to produce a very pleasant view.
If only it was easy to get a picture of it...
Nikolaikirche is Leipzig's oldest and biggest church. Consecreted in 1165, this Gothic church with a Romanesque west facade was "home" to Johann Sebastian Bach from 1723, when he became it's music director, until his death 27 years later.
One of the most famous churches and one of the most important buildings in recent German history.
The interior of the church is very bright, very peaceful. A very special atmosphere, the silence seems to tell you a lot about the events that happened here in the late 80s...
Prayers for peace begann in the early 80s, people talking about and praying for justice, human rights, environmental friendly behaviour, balance of rich and poor. The church was open for Christians - and non-Christians, as it was one of only few locations where you could talk openly.
In 1989 there were more and more participants in the prayer for peace every Monday, it was getting very political, opponents of the system were arrested, the state sent police and army as a threat - but still there were hundreds and thousands praying and protesting peacefully, with candles, without any violence, for freedom, for peace, for a new government, a new political system.
When you're holding a candle you need both hands to protect its light - you are not able to throw stones or hit anybody. So the prayers of peace in the Nikolaikirche played an extremely important role in the history of the two German states, the fall of the wall and the iron curtain, and the reunification a year later.
For me it was very moving to be inside this church, even 16 years later...
They have a great leaflet, talking about the architectural dates and facts, about the tradition of the prayer for peace and the special events in 1989. Buy it!!
Nikolaikirche is going through a major re-conditioning so it is close and I was able to only take a glance through some glass. The church is very spacious but simple, the exotic tone comes from the "palm tree like" columns like the one on Nikolaikirchhof shown on the next tip.
The photo shows Nikolaikirche at the deep into the street.
St. Nicholas is Leipzig's biggest church. The western front is clearly Romanesque style, built in 12th century. The three naves, choir and chapels were rebuilt in Gothic style from 14th to 16th centuries.
Very special is the interior: redesigned 1784 - 97 by Carl Dauthe in Classical style, the pillars in palm tree like shape are unique.
When I visited the church was still undergoing a restoration inside, but it seemed to be almost completed.
Since Oct 9 1989 the church became world-famous, when the prayers for peace (since 1982) finally turned into a mass demonstration, which initiated the change in East Germany.
Nikolaikirche with its well known Monday prayers as well as the 9 October 1989 stand for the break down of the DDR.
The ceiling and the columns are amazing. The columns look like palmtrees. Also the interieur isn't like in normal German churches I saw before.
Unfortunately we couldn't see the whole beauty of its interieur cause of restauration works which currently take place.
Open to visit daily
When Leipzig got the city charter in 1165 St. Nicholai Church was built on the intersection of two important trade roads. Today it's the oldest and biggest church in Leipzig. This church has become world famous by the "Peaceful Monday-Demonstrations" and revolution in autumn 1989. It is a symbol for freedom for all East German people.
The column formed as a palm next to the church is dedicated to the people of Leipzig and a symbol for the "Peaceful Monday Demonstrations".
The Nikolaikirche is a historical site in Leipzig. Here's where the "Montagsdemonstrationen" would take place, which had a great part in the German Unification.