Michaelsberg Abbey, Bamberg, Germany

April 11th, 2012 | Posted by Steve in Churches & Cathedrals | Germany | International

Michaelsberg Abbey,  April 1, 2012.        Michaelsberg Abbey also known as St. Michael’s is a former Benedictine monastery.  It sits on a terraced hill above the river Regnitz and the hotel I was staying in.

The Abbey was first built in 1015 and has been through quite a few changes since.  The original building was destroyed in an earthquake about 100 years later.  It was plundered during a local riot in 1435.  It was damaged in a war in 1525 and again during the 30 Years War, then badly damaged in a fire in 1610.  The cathedral & buildings seen today are largely built in the last 250 years or so.  The political power of the abbey was destroyed in 1803 when the church was secularized.

Today the cathedral & its adjacent buildings make a very large, mostly public compound.  Besides the Cathedral, the rest of the property is an old age home, a brewery museum, a couple of cafés, & a beer garden.  The rear of the property overlooking the river has a very large landscaped garden.

The ceiling of the cathedral still dates from the rebuild after the fire, but it shows some wear & tear.  I suspect it will soon need maintenance.  The interior is richly appointed.  It is full of painting, statuary, and religious art which appears to date from the late renaissance, or the Age of Enlightenment.

I love to photograph churches, especially the interiors.  From my photographic point of view Catholic churches make the best subjects.  They have great color, texture, and form.  The changing light always gives you a new perspective. Many of these churches were built to enclose large areas, and then richly appointed to impress & humble visitors.  The artwork I have seen in European churches is truly a cultural treasure.

Sunday, April 1 my friend Crawford and I did our laundry.  We were done by 1 so we began to look for something to do for the afternoon.  He suggested the Abbey just above our hotel.  We walked down the street to a door in the wall cut into the hill.  Behind the door was a stairway up to the terraced hillside.  This is the view.

Further along the terrace is a fountain.  Despite the great weather it had no water.

This is a view of the backside of the Abbey from the one of the terraces.

From nearby I shot a few record photos of the skyline.  The computer was able to paste them together for this panorama of 3 ½ shots. You can easily see the seams where the first two came together.  The last seam runs through the cathedral seen in the distance at the right and is a better blend.

Walking around the building we saw a café (more of an upscale restaurant actually) inhabiting part of the main building complex and a beer garden in an out building.  The front of the Cathedral faces a large open grassy area over 100 yards square.  That area is surrounded by part of the building complex.  This is the front of the Cathedral.

Nearby is this statue of Mercury.

Walking inside I first looked for signs that prohibit certain types of behavior.  There were signs prohibiting eating, dogs, & cell phone use, but nothing indicating a prohibition against cameras.  Only the Cathedral of St. George & St. Peter (next post) had that prohibition.

All of the following interior shots are hand held with no flash.  It was darker inside than the photos might indicate.  Except for a few of the really dark shadows, these photographs are not lightened, but are how the camera rendered the light.

This is a photo of the Nave from the entry.  It is a spectacular space.

Facing from the back of the Nave to the Apse there is a very ornate pulpit about halfway down on the left.

Along many of the pillars small shrines are erected.  This is one of them.

At the Apse is this display or shrine.

Nearby is this statue.

In a wall niche is this shrine.

It was mid afternoon.  Along the cross of the building I was able to get part of the cathedral lit by sun rays.  A half an hour earlier the statue (2nd photo above) may have been illuminated.  As I passed it only the hand was bathed in sunlight which quickly moved away.

Another shrine at one of the pillars is Jesus on the Cross.

This is a more detailed photo of the Pulpit shot from a different angle.

Many of the shrines were to the Apostles or other figures important in the Bible.  This one is St. Joseph or St. Josephus.

After leaving the Cathedral we walked further up the hill.  Looking back I got this shot of the moon rising above the Cathedral towers.  The archway at the bottom is the driving entry into the grounds.

The next and last post from Germany will be other churches and sights I did on a walking trip with Crawford from Friday, April 6.

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