Collegiate Church St. Cyriakus - Gernrode


The collegiate church of St Cyriakus errected by duke Gero in at the beginning of 10th century is one of the most impressing buildings on the "Street of Romanesque" in the state of Saxony-Anhalt. The total missing of right angles is expression and example for medieval people's mind. The most important artifact in Gernrode is the Holy Grave - the oldest presaved analog of the grave of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem.


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    History

    • In 937 Kaiser Otto I installed Gero as margrave on the River Saale and the middle Elbe. Among his tasks was the protection of the empire’s east border, the missionising of the Slavs, and the integration of the territory into the empire. He built a fortress in the clearing named after him. It was first mentioned in 961 as "urbs Geronisroth.” At that time a church foundation already existed here: Gero and his son Siegfried had planned a family convent, which was founded as a ladies’ endowment for the lower aristocracy on the fortress grounds after Siegfried died in 959. Gero ensured that it received the pope’s protection and the status of enjoying the direct protection of the Emperor. Accordingly the endowment in Gernrode was one of the most distinguished institutions of its kind in the empire, next to Quedlinburg, Essen and Gandersheim.
      In 961 Gero brought a relic of St Cyriakus from a pilgrimage to Rome, who was therefore pronounced patron saint. In 965 the founder was buried in the church, next to him in 1014 his daughter-in-law Hathui, Siegfried’s widow, who was the first abbess to run the foundation. After the dynasty of the founder died out, the Ascanians became protectors of Gernrode and determined its fate until the 19th century.
      In Ottonian and Salian times the foundation flourished. It had an extensive jurisdiction and owned 23 villages. With the Reformation the foundation lost more and more of its autonomy and importance. In 1521 it was changed into a Protestant church foundation, in 1533 there were also Protestant services for the community inside the collegiate church. From 1564 to 1604 the prices of Anhalt enforced the rule that only princesses from the House of Anhalt could be installed as abbesses.
      The last abbess died in 1616. After that the princes transferred the foundation into a domain, which however kept the former privileges and the according jurisdiction. In 1831 the domain was sold. The church could be prevented from dilapidation by the Dukes of Anhalt, and was restored in an exemplary manner under the direction of the Prussian curator Ferdinand von Quast from 1858 to 1872. Today it is owned by the Protestant community and used ecumenically. Since 1997 the preserved former foundation buildings have been serving as youth meeting centre and convention centre of the Protestant Church of Anhalt.
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    Architecture and Furniture

    • Architecture
      The collegiate church of St Cyriakus is one of the most important and, regarding the overall impression, bestpreserved examples of Ottonian architecture. It is a three-aisled cruciform basilica with simple alternation of pillars, side gallery and east crypt, which is regarded as one of the oldest hall crypts in Germany. The monumental building with careful rubble and freestone walls was probably started already around 959. It was continued from east to west. The church was completed during the first abbess’s long term of office. What remains unclear until now is the reason for the shift of the nave’s axis, which resulted in a distorted layout without right angles. Under Abbess Hedwig II alterations were carried out in the second quarter of the 12th century. The west chancel in particular was changed. At the same time the foundation buildings with the two-storey cloister wing on the south side of the church, which still exists, were reconstructed as well. The east chancel is characterised by a broad apse and a crypt.
      With the extensive renovation of the building Ferdinand von Quast tried to restore the Ottonian structure and, at the same time, leave the Romanesque west front unchanged. It was then that the exterior and the inside were given their current appearance. From 1907 to 1910 the west towers had to be pulled down and rebuilt for structural reasons. Since 1960 gradual examinations, repair work and restoration have been carried out.

      Furnishing and Decoration
      The exterior and interior stand out on account of their effective plainness. The capitals of the nave’s columns, three bearing acanthus foliage-work, the fourth with figural depictions, are evidence of the original architectural decoration. The painting and decoration are from the time of the restoration in the 19th century. The design was by Quast and perfectly fits the room. Of the few older pieces the Romanesque font from the demolished church of Alsleben (rural district of Bernburg), the painting of the founder Gero, around 1500, and his tomb, which was created in 1519 and placed in the crossing, have to be pointed out.
      Gernrode’s most important piece of art is the Holy Grave, which was probably built in the place of an older arched grave in several stages at the end of the 11th century. It is the oldest preserved replica of the grave of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, and has an anteroom and a main chamber just like its original. This architecture was included in a Passion play that was revived a few years ago in accordance with a manuscript from 1502. The inside as well as the grave’s outside are decorated with stucco reliefs of an extraordinary quality. They show the stages of the Easter story from the walk of the Disciples to the grave, through the meeting of Christ and Mary Magdalene in the garden (Noli me tangere), to the three Ladies at the grave and the risen Christ.
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    Regular guided visits

    • Guided tours:
      € 2,00/person

      Services daily 9 a.m.–12 noon

      Special guided tours:
      Tower and galleries tour,
      theological tour, Sculptures,
      thympana and capitals, medidative
      tour, the lion with the two faces
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    Audioguide

    • A fascinating Journey through the Middle Ages and the Beginnings of Europe

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    • 0 Romanesque Art in Saxony-Anhalt

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    • 1 Welcome

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    • 2 Baptismal font

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    • 3 West crypt

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    • 4 West apsis

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    • 5 Organ

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    • 6 Longhouse roof

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    • 7 Tomb of St. Elisabeth

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    • 8 Gravestone of Gero

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    • 9 Pulpit

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    • 10 Longhouse

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    • 11 Cross section

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    • 12 Epitaph of Gero

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    • 13 Long axis

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    • 14 East crypt

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    • 15 Altar room

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    • 16 Cloister yard

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    • 17 Entrance hall

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    • 18 The big bell

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    • 19 Travel tips

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    • download zip

Object

Burgstraße 3
06507 Gernrode
Deutschland
++49(0)39485-275
E-mail
Website

Organization:

Burgstraße 3
06507 Gernrode
Deutschland
++49(0)39485-275
E-mail
Website

Tourist Information:

Marktstrasse 20
06507 Gernrode
Deutschland
039485 / 3 54
E-mail
Website


Churches

Opening Hours:

April - October
Monday - Saturday:
09.00 a.m. - 05.00 p.m.

November - March
on request/by arrangement

Admission fees:

none, donations welcome


Collegiate Church St. Cyriakus - Gernrode

Collegiate Church St. Cyriakus - Gernrode