Whether you’re making a spiritual pilgrimage or want to appreciate their majestic architecture, Germany’s churches are some of the most spectacular sights the country has to offer. Steeped in history, cathedrals and churches in Germany tell their own story of the past; some churches stood the test of time and remained untouched for a thousand years while others wear the scars of war and are a vivid reminder of Germany’s turbulent history.
On top of just visiting these historic sites, try to plan your visit around a service. It is an unforgettable experience or tradition, music, and awe. Visit the seven best churches in Germany to have a religious experience.
1. Cathedral of Cologne
Kölner Dom or Cathedral of Cologne, one of Germany’s most important architectural monuments, is the third tallest cathedral in the world. It took over 600 years to build this Gothic masterpiece and when it was finished in 1880 it was true to the original plans from 1248.
The Cathedral’s most precious works of art are the Shrine of the Three Kings, a golden sarcophagus studded with jewels; the Gero Cross, the oldest surviving crucifix north of the Alps; and the “Milan Madonna”, an elegant wooden sculpture from the 13th century. However, the whole site is so spectacular it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
2. Church of Our Lady in Dresden
The Dresden Frauenkirche has a moving history. Erected in 1726, it was crushed during World War II. Air-raids wiped out the city center of Dresden, taking the Church of Our Lady with it as it collapsed into a 42 feet high pile of rubble. The ruins were left untouched for over 40 years as a reminder of the destructive powers of war.
In the 1980s, the ruins became a site of the East German peace movement; thousands gathered here to peacefully protest the regime of the East German Government.
In 1994, the painstaking reconstruction of the church began, almost completely financed by private donations. In 2005, the people of Dresden celebrated the resurrection of their Frauenkirche.
In the foothills of the Alps on the Romantic Road, you’ll find the pilgrimage church Wieskirche (“Church in the Meadow”), one of the most beautiful rococo churches in Europe. A UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site built in the 18th century was designed by the Zimmermann brothers. Dominikus Zimmermann was so proud of his creation, he built a small house next to the church and lived there until his death.
The church is home to the sculpture of the Scoured Savior, and it is said that tears appeared in the eyes of the wooden figure – a miracle that attracts millions of pilgrims each year.
4. Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin
The Protestant Memorial Church of Berlin (Gedaechtniskirche) is located on the popular shopping boulevard, Kudamm. It is one of the city’s most prominent landmarks with a turbulent history.
In World War II, the church was heavily damaged by an air raid, destroying most of the building and its towers. The entrance hall and one broken spire were saved and both were preserved as a war memorial. Today, you can walk amongst the semi-preserved hall and admire artifacts from the church.
A new, strikingly modern concrete church with blue stained glass windows and a freestanding hexagonal bell tower was built in the 1960s alongside the original church and still acts as a place of worship.
This square is also the site of a popular Christmas market and in 2016, this was the center of a terrorist attack. A semi-truck plowed into the celebratory crowd. Fresh flowers and candles still adorn a memorial outside of the church.
Another Berlin church worth visiting is the Cathedral of Berlin on Museum Island, especially on Christmas Eve.
5. Church of Our Lady in Munich
The Catholic Church of Our Blessed Lady (Frauenkirche) is a major landmark of Munich. It is the city’s largest church as it can hold up to 20,000 people.
Built-in 1494 in the record time of 20 years, the architectural style of the brick-built church is late Gothic. Its famous domes atop each tower were modeled on the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
6. Ulm Minster
The city of Ulm is proud to be home to the tallest church in the world. The Ulm Minster has church spires that soar 162 meters (531 feet) high.
The first stone of this pinnacle of Gothic architecture was laid in 1377 and it took over 600 years until the work on the main steeple was finished. Climb the 768 steps to the observation platform and you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the Alps and Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze.
7. Cathedral of Mainz
Over the roofs of the Old Town in Mainz rises the six-towered Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mainz, one of the most important Romanesque structures along the Rhine. The 1,000-year-old cathedral was originally built in the Romanesque style, but over the last centuries, many other architectural elements have been added like Gothic windows and Baroque stone design.
Another Mainz church worth visiting is St. Stephan’s Church, which is famous for its luminous stained glass windows in eight different hues of blue, created by Russian Jewish artist Marc Chagall.