UNESCO-World-Heritage-Site Hildesheim St. Mary’s Cathedral

When you visit St. Mary’s Cathedral in Hildesheim, you immerse yourself in the origin of Hildesheim and the diocese. Traces of the history spanning 1,200 years can be discovered here as well as legends that are literally interwoven around the site on which the cathedral was built.

RETRACING THE BISHOPS’ FOOTSTEPS

For it is said that it was a rosebush that prompted Emperor Louis the Pious to build the first chapel on this site around 815. Legend has it that the St. Mary’s reliquary that Louis the Pious hung up in the branches could no longer be removed from the bush - a divine sign for him to establish his new diocese here. To this very day, the rosebush blooms every spring and adorns the cathedral’s apse with its delicate pink floral splendor.

Over 1,200 years of history shaped the face of the cathedral, which was a bishop’s seat right from the start: Over the centuries, it presented itself in various sizes, changing shapes and with different, increasingly richer furnishings and décor. The cathedral was destroyed twice: A fire in the 11th century and bombs at the end of the Second World War almost razed it down to the foundation wall. The precious cathedral treasury was preserved because it had been removed beforehand. The cathedral was rebuilt in Romanesque architectural style. In 1985, UNESCO added the cathedral and its treasures, together with St. Michael’s Church, to its list of World Heritage Sites.

Impressions

  • The baptismal font

    The late Romanesque bronze baptismal font was created around 1226, most likely in a Hildesheim workshop. Its founder is presumed to be the Hildesheim provost of the cathedral, Wilbrand von Oldenburg-Wildeshausen. The impressive bronze casting is 1.70 meters high with a diameter of 96 centimeters. Its expressive, decorative visual imagery indicates Gothic stylistic elements.

  • The Hezilo Chandelier (1/2)

    The Romanesque wheel chandelier that Bishop Hezilo donated to the cathedral in 1061 impresses with its size and design: it measures six meters in diameter. Gold-plated copper makes the richly crafted goldsmith’s work gleam in the light. Latin inscriptions convey messages that identify the wheel chandelier as a symbol of heavenly Jerusalem: the city wall with twelve towers, twelve open gates and with battlements that bear 72 candles.

  • The Hezilo Chandelier (2/2)

    The Hezilo chandelier is the oldest and largest of altogether four preserved wheel chandeliers dating back to the Middle Ages (Azelin or Thietmar chandelier in the Hildesheim Cathedral, Barbarossa chandelier in the Aachen Cathedral and the Hartwig chandelier in Comburg Abbey). The Hezilo chandelier hung in the nave until the cathedral was destroyed in 1945. Following the cathedral’s reconstruction, it was given its place above the high altar. The chandelier was elaborately restored from 2002 until 2007, and returned to its original place in the nave in 2014. 

  • The Thietmar chandelier

    The Azelin or Thietmar chandelier is one of altogether four preserved wheel chandeliers dating back to the Middle Ages (Hezilo chandelier in the Hildesheim Cathedral, Barbarossa chandelier in the Aachen Cathedral and the Hartwig chandelier in Comburg Abbey).

  • The Inkpot Madonna

    The statue of the Virgin Mary, known as the ″Inkpot Madonna″, is the patron saint of St. Mary’s Cathedral. It was carved around 1430 by an unknown sculptor from Lower Saxony in Gothic S-shape from oak wood. Mother and son look down on the viewer with graceful faces. Their stately height of 1.80 meters and the rare form of presentation impress visitors and experts alike. While Mary carries her son in her left arm equipped with a quill and scroll, she hands him an inkwell with her right hand.

  • The Bernward Doors

    In 1015, Bishop Bernward commissioned the two door leaves with a height of 4.72 meters each for the western entrance to the cathedral. They were named after their founder and hold a special status among medieval doors: they are some of the highest of their epoch. For the first time since antiquity, a door once again shows an impressive sculptural program of images. Each of their door leaves was cast in one piece from bronze.

  • The Crypt

    The crypt’s design language dates back to the construction of the cathedral under Bishop Hezilo around 1061. Hezilo had it connected with the older circular crypt to form a large, three-aisled room that was reserved for what was then the altar of Mary. Remains of the first Mary’s Chapel of Louis the Pious were found under the crypt in the eastern section during renovation work. The reliquary casket of Bishop Godehard, who passed away in 1038, is located in the western part of the crypt.

    Around 1770, the crypt was redesigned in Baroque style, but it was restored to its original Romanesque character at the end of the 19th century. After reconstruction in 1960, the crypt was used as a sacrament chapel. The renovation uncovered the old entrances again from the front side of the high altar.

  • The Rose Tree

    Legend has it that the rose tree has adorned St. Mary’s Cathedral for almost 1,200 years. Every year from the end of May until early June, it covers the outer apse in a delicate pink sea of flowers. The founding legend of the diocese dates back to the 1,000-year-old rosebush: In 815, Emperor Louis the Pious left a treasured St. Mary’s reliquary on the branch of a tree. Louis interpreted this as a divine sign and had St. Mary’s Chapel built on this spot, and he designated the site as the new bishop’s seat.

  • The Steinberg Chapel

    The Steinberg Chapel, built around 1405, is located on the left side of the North Paradise and is named after its founder Lippold von Steinberg (approx. 1325 - 1415). Remains of wall paintings, probably of the cathedral’s patrons and saints, as well as partly preserved inscriptions, testify to its original purpose: honoring the cathedral patrons. As canon and cathedral steward, Lippold von Steinberg contributed substantially to the cathedral’s structural expansion and furnishings in the 15th century.

PHOTOGRAPHING AND FILMING IN THE CHURCH

As owner and host of the church, we retain the right to make the production of photographs and films subject to our express written approval. You’re free to take photographs and shoot films for private purposes without special permission provided that you limit yourself to only using the built-in flash in your camera and you do not use a tripod. 

Posting of photos and videos on the Internet is only allowed for private purposes (like your own homepage). In principle, posting your photos and videos in image databases and with stock photo agencies is not permitted. The transfer of author and usage rights to third parties, particularly also the issuance of so-called Creative Commons licenses and posting in wikis, is prohibited. 

If you’d like to make recordings for commercial, cultural or scientific purposes, please contact the church council in writing with a brief description of your project. We’ll then quickly check your application and proceed as generously as possible.

Info

Info & opening hours

Hildesheimer Dom

Domhof, 31134 Hildesheim
Tel. 05121-307-770

www.dom-hildesheim.de

St. Mary’s Cathedral

Monday to Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Saturday 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Sunday 12 noon - 5:30 p.m.

Domfoyer

Monday to Sunday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Directions

Contact and contact person

Dr. Petra Meschede
Public relations work

info@welterbe-niedersachse.de

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Copyright 2020