Built in 1334, Jakobikirche (St. Jacob’s) is one of five Evangelical Lutheran parish churches in Lübeck’s old town, and is now regarded as one of the Northern German city of Lübeck’s best preserved Medieval churches, having managed to emerge relatively unscathed from the air raids of World War Two.
History of Jakobikirche
The Jakobikirche is a three-aisled brick hall church. The current building was constructed in 1334 after the city suffered a great fire in 1276, replacing a Romanesque hall church on the same site. The tower of the church reveals that over the church’s history, there has been a significant amount of planning to expand or alter the building, such as a now-abandoned design to convert the hall church into a basilica.
In 1628, the tower was taken down ‘to the bells’ in order to renew the masonry. Initially, a simple wooden roof was built on top of the church, until the spire was renewed in 1657/58. The spire has been struck by lightning several times, most recently burning for a whole day as a result in 1901.
Various parts of the church have changed hands a number of times over its long history. For instance, of the attached chapels, the Brömbsen Chapel is probably the most well known because of its altar on the south side, which dates back to the foundation of the canon Detmar Schulop in 1338. In 1488, the mayor of Lübeck, Heinrich Brömse, gained custody of the chapel, where it remained in the possession of his family until 1826.
Other parts of the church are owned by different prominent German families as well as the Brewer’s Guild.
The church has a rich interior. The church’s medieval frescoes were rediscovered during renovations at the end of the 19th century.
Crucially, Jakobikirche was one of the few churches in Lübeck that remained undamaged during a bombing raid in 1942, and as a result, houses the last two remaining historical organs in Lübeck. In 1932, the gallery under the great organ was expanded in order to make space for a larger choir and a small orchestra there.
Today, visitors can enjoy Jakobikirche’s rich and detailed Gothic pulpit, altar, and baptismal font, the famous Broemsen altar, its interesting and unusual box pews, two rare historical organs, and its clock tower and bell.
There is a busy and regular programme of events year round, including organ recitals on the two famous and old organs which are highly popular.
The city itself is well worth a visit, being noted for its brick gothic architecture and other attractions such as St. Mary’s Church, the City Hall, the old salt storage buildings, and the Holy Spirit Hospital in Koberg, which is one of the oldest existing social institutions in the world. Like many other places in Germany, Lübeck has a long tradition of a Christmas market in December, which includes the famous handicrafts market inside the aforementioned Holy Spirit Hospital.
Getting To Jakobikirche
Lübeck is an hour drive from Hamburg, primarily on the ‘1’ main road. There is also a frequent bus service from Hamburg – the RE and the RE80 – that takes 45 minutes. When in Lübeck, Jakobikirche is an 8 minute walk from the centre; equally, there is a bus every 8 minutes – the 11, 21, 32, or 39 – that will take you within even shorter walking distance of the church.