Oppenheim and Katherinenkirche

Oppenheim is a village about halfway between Mainz and Worms. It’s well known for its underground tunnels and the Katherinenkirche (St. Katherine’s church, which was my main objective).

Finding parking was a minor challenge as the streets are very narrow. We drove completely through town (which took all of 5 minutes), before circling back. We found a carpark on the other side of this medieval gateway just before a convoy of Fiats drove up.

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We took a quick look around, grabbed a cup of coffee at a cafe, and ate lunch before heading up the hill to the main attraction.

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Katherinenkirche was built as a convent church and is now an evangelical (Lutheran) church. It was built in stages that can be clearly identified from the south elevation. The pink towers from the Romanesque era are the oldest visible elements. The darker, elaborate stone on the right shows the pointed arches, flying buttresses and tracery windows of the high Gothic era. The left, though plainer, is of later Gothic construction.

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From the inside the windows are spectacular. Though much of the original glass has been damaged through the centuries, periodic restoration and replacement of portions has kept them looking great.

 

Even though the above window was dark colored, there are so many windows that the interior is brilliantly lit. This is the nave of the high gothic section of the church.

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The graceful piers, with each shaft supporting a separate arch in the ceiling, create a rhythm and texture that keeps the eye in content motion.

This next image shows the rear of the nave with the organ.

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The west section has a raised area in the apse that shows it was once used as a second choir for the convent which was located on the north side. The entire church was severely damaged by fire in 1689. The nave and east choir were restored in the 18th century. The gift shops sells a set of postcards from 1876 that show the west choir as a roofless shell with large trees growing inside. This end was restored only in the 1880s after being a ruin for 200 years. Today it is empty of any furniture as there is some renovation taking place in the apse just below the level of the large windows.

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A few more images from the church and around town.

 

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