St. Nicholas Church

Leipzig, Germany | C.1165

Photo Credit: Yura Ukhorskiy

St. Nicholas Church (German: Nikolaikirche) is famous and beloved in Leipzig, Germany. Bach premiered several works here, and it is often called the “cradle of the peaceful revolution,” due to its historic role in the reunification of Germany. Built in the 12th century, the church is the oldest and largest in the city, with a capacity of about 2,000.

The church was erected in the Romanesque style with twin towers around 1165. Due to its location at the intersection of two important historic trade routes, it was dedicated to St. Nicholas, the medieval patron saint of merchants. 

It was not until the 16th century that the church was extended and enlarged into the Gothic hall it still is today. During this time period, architect Hieronymus Lotter added the striking octagonal tower. Over a century later, Johann Carl Friedrich Dauthe added the Baroque main tower and soon after, the interior was remodeled in the Neoclassical style. Richly detailed palm capitals are a notable feature in the nave. 

Johann Sebastian Bach was the music director of Nikolaikirche and of St. Thomas Church from 1723-50, and many of his works premiered here. Another famous figure associated with the church is philosopher and mathematician, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who was baptized at the church.

Nikolaikirche rose to national fame in 1989, when it became the center for peaceful protests known as the Monday Demonstrations. Its renowned “Prayers for Peace” culminated in almost 70,000 protesters gathered in revolt against communist rule. The prayers have been held uninterrupted every Monday since 1982.

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