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Cathedral of St. Sephan and St. Sixtus - Halberstadt


The point of origin of Halberstadt´s development into the most important city in the foothills of the Harz mountains was a station of Carolingian missionaries. Here a bishop´s seat was founded around the year 804. The foundation stone of today´s elegant gothic cathedral, following French models, was laid in the 1230s.
 
Some works have remained from the romanesque era, especially the baptismal font of marble. The most important work of art furnishing the cathedral is the monumental triumphal cross, produced around 1220. The treasury of the cathedral counts among the most precious ensembles of Middle Age artwork. Three romanesque tapestries and a byzantine paten should be mentioned of the most distinguished works there.

A number of romanesque churches was taken over in the Halberstadt area, in the first place the Collegiate Church of Our Lady and the Benedictine Monastery of Huysburg.


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    History

    • Cathedral of St. Sephan and St. Sixtus - Halberstadt
      The point of origin of Halberstadt‘s development into the most important city in the foothills of the Harz mountains was a station of Carolingian missionaries. According to controversial records, it was founded in Osterwieck (named Seligenstadt at that time) by Charlemagne in 780 and moved to this place around the year 800. St. Stephan became the patron saint.

      After 802 (or 827 at the latest), there was a bishop’s seat here, determining the fortunes of the city for the following centuries. Already under the Anglo-Saxon theologian Haimo (840-853), the diocese was one of the most significant ones in Saxony. From 989 onward the bishop had almost all the rights of a sovereign. The centre of the city and of the diocese was the cathedral, the Ottonian building of which was consecrated in 992 and soon surrounded by a circle of churches. The urban community, though, remained in its shadow for a long time: it was not until 1108 that the first records of a “civitas”, a city appear.
      During the 12th century, the bishop’s strong commitment to the pope drew the city and country deep into the investiture crisis. In the deciding battle at Welfesholz, Bishop Reinhard participated on the side of the Saxonian princes and sovereigns. In 1179 Heinrich der Löwe conquered the hostile city and left it in ruins. During the late Middle Ages the bourgeoisie gained more power and could partly establish their rights against the bishop and the clergy. Whilst protestant services were already held in the town church of St. Martin in 1521, the bishop and the clergy of the cathedral would not follow the protestant confession until 1591. The diocese remained in place but was assigned as a secular principality to the electorate Brandenburg after the Thirty Years’ War. Consequently, the now secular provost of the cathedral was appointed by the sovereign from 1661. The cathedral chapter remained in place until 1810.

      Today the cathedral and the cathedral treasure are under the control of the foundation for the preservation and utilisation of the cathedrals, churches and monasteries of the county of Saxony-Anhalt (“Domstiftung”) and are used by the protestant parish of Halberstadt.

      Chronological table

      800 Missionary station moved from Osterwieck (Seligenstadt) to Halberstadt
      after 802 / 827 Installation of a bishop
      859 Consecration of the Carolingian cathedral
       965 - 992 Erection of the Ottonian cathedral
       1179 Destruction of cathedral and city through “Heinrich der Löwe”
       1220 Consecration of the reconstructed cathedral
      before 1239 - 1491 Building of the Gothic cathedral in four stages
       1591 Reformation
       1810 Dissolution of the cathedral chapter, renovation work during the 19th century
       1945 Severe bombing damage
       1946 - 1956 Reconstruction
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    Architecture and Furniture

    • Cathedral of St. Sephan and St. Sixtus - Halberstadt

      Architecture

      The mission cell of the early 9th century was discovered during excavations under today‘s cathedral. As the church of the diocese it was extended but replaced soon with a new building consecrated in 859: a Carolingian basilica with three aisles, transept, west front and a projecting eastern chancel surrounded by a ring-shaped and an external crypt.

      In 965 the church collapsed but it was re-erected immediately. The Ottonian replacement building, constructed in competition with the foundation of the cathedral of Magdeburg was consecrated in 992 – the remains of its transept wall can be seen from the cloister. Destruction through a fire under “Heinrich der Löwe” was followed by restoration and vaulting. However, shortly after the re-consecration in 1220, the foundation stone of the today’s Gothic cathedral was laid. The building phase lasted through for stages until 1491. The oldest part of the building is the western front that originated from the Ottonian cathedral and was finished in 1250. Its design follows the Burgundian-Cistercian transitional style.
      After a change of the original plan the three western bays of the nave took the place of the Ottonian west front but preserved its dimensions, as a result of which the steepness of proportions that is so typical of Halberstadt was …???
      The style was now dominated by the High Gothic following the French model (after 1250-before 1317). After that the building continued eastward with the erection of Mary’s chapel in the chancel, the sanctuary (c. 1340-1401) and was eventually concluded with the eastern bay of the nave, the transept and the vaulting (1401-1491). Over two centuries the builders stuck firmly to their high-Gothic plan, and created a consistently beautiful Gothic cathedral. Later alterations affected primarily the decoration. The 19th century brought a number of re-newals such as the demolition and re-erection of the tower’s higher level, 1882-1896.

      In 1945 the cathedral suffered severe bombing-damage, which was repaired from 1946 to 1956. Further renovation and maintehance activities have followed since.

      Design

      The cathedral owns decorations that have grown over centuries and reveal an outstanding quality and quantity, such as manifold architectural ornament works, stone and wooden statues, altars, pictures, metal gadgets and tombs. The primary building time lay around the late Middle Ages.

      The monolithic limestone sarcophagus of Bishop Bernhard (=968) in the sanctuary was taken over from the Ottonian building. From Romanesque times remained the monumental baptismal font of marble from the Rübeland area, donated by Bishop Gardolf in the late 12th century.
      The enclosure, erected between the 13th and the 16th centuries, with its “Alter Kapitelsaal” (old chapter hall) has preserved remains of the 12th-century building.
      Today, the new chapter hall, the old sacristy and the refectory present the cathedral treasure that counts among the most precious collection of Middle Age artwork.

      The collection of liturgical garments and gadgets, reliquaries, statues, altar paintings and liturgical handwriting traces back until the 10th century. Of the most distinguished works there should be mentioned the Romanesque gobelins and a Byzantine paten.


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    Events

    • 2nd Talk in the Cathedral Treasure in Halberstadt

Object

Domplatz 16 a
38820 Halberstadt
Deutschland
++49(0)3941-24 23 7
E-mail
Website

Organization:

Domplatz 16 a
38820 Halberstadt
Deutschland
++49(0)3941-24 23 7
E-mail
Website

Tourist Information:

Hinter dem Rathause 6
38820 Halberstadt
Deutschland
++49(0)3941-55 18 15
E-mail
Website


Highlight Cathedrals

Opening Hours:


November to April
Monday: visitation only within a guided tour
Tuesday to Sunday: 11.00h - 16.00h

May to October
Monday to Saturday: 10.00h - 17.00h
Sunday: 11.00h - 17.00h


Cathedral of St. Sephan and St. Sixtus - Halberstadt

Cathedral of St. Sephan and St. Sixtus - Halberstadt