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A short architectural history

The Saint Nicholas city- and parish church was founded in about 1165. The church was situated at the intersection of two important north-south, east-west trade roads. It was dedicated to Nicholas, the medieval patron saint of merchants and wholesalers. Even today it is still situated amongst office buildings in the city centre with its doors open to visitors from all over the world. The church was originally built in the Romanesque architectural style what is proved by the western facade. In the early 16th century, the building was extended and formed a Gothic hall church, and has retained this shape up to the present. The three steeples received their Baroque decoration in 1731. Sandstone extensions altered the outside appearance of the church once again in 1902.

The interior of the church is even more fascinating. It was reconstructed between 1784 and 1797 in a classical (classicistic) style according to French examples by the architect J. C.F. Dauthe. The reconstruction was thought to demonstrate to the world self-confidence and high cultural standards of the citizens.

The columns designed to resemble palms, are especially impressive. The rich ornamental decoration on the ceiling, the galleries, and the pews is remarkable. The artist A. F. Oeser created thirty paintings for the church. They are exhibited in the portico as well as in the sanctuary. The angel of peace pictured above the altar is a rarity. Scenes from the New Testament are displayed in the sanctuary. Jesus is depicted as the teacher of mankind (south side) and miraculous Son of God (north side) - the two fundamental images of Jesus, on which contemporaries differ then and today.

The pulpit, the baptismal font, and the altar are noble creations: the whole interior is an outstanding example of the very best of German art and craftsmanship. The four alabaster reliefs by F. Pfeiffer from 1905 are extraordinary works of art as well as the exceptional scenes from Jesus' Way of the Cross. The late Romanesque wooden crucifix in the sanctuary is the oldest work of art in Leipzig.

The church has served protestant worshipers since 1539 when the Reformation came to Leipzig. Bach's activity and creativity as master and organist of the choir in the years 1723 through 1750 were a highlight in the history of the church. Distinguished compositions by Bach were released for the first time at St. Nicholas. The organ was built by F. Ladegast of Weißenfels in 1858-1862. It is an important example of the "Romantic” school of organ-building and has been modernized with electric-pneumatic equipment in the 20th century.

The church - one of Germany’s most important architectural monuments - has been undergoing a thorough internal and external restoration since 1968. Since the financing of the restoration is a huge burden the community gratefully appreciates (any kind of) donations.

Rev Dr. A. Haubold