Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady)
Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) Review
Munich's Dom (cathedral) is a distinctive late-Gothic brick structure with two huge towers. Each is 99 meters high, an important figure today because, in a nonbinding referendum, Münchners narrowly voted to restrict all new buildings to below this height within the city's middle ring road. The main body of the cathedral was completed in 20 years (1468–88)—a record time in those days, and the distinctive onion-dome-like cupolas were added by 1525. Shortly after the original work was completed in 1688, Jörg von Halspach, the Frauenkirche's architect, died, but he became celebrated for the unique achievement of seeing through a project on such a scale from start to finish. The twin towers are easily the most recognized feature of the city skyline and a Munich trademark. In 1944–45, the building suffered severe damage during Allied bombing raids, and was restored between 1947 and 1957. Inside, the church combines most of von Halspach's plans, with a stark, clean modernity and simplicity of line, emphasized by slender, white octagonal pillars that sweep up through the nave to the tracery ceiling. As you enter the church, look on the stone floor for the dark imprint of a large foot—the Teufelstritt (Devil's Footprint). According to lore, the devil challenged von Halspach to build a church without windows. The architect accepted the challenge. When he completed the job, he led the devil to a spot in the bright church from which the 66-foot-high windows could not be seen. The devil triumphantly stomped his foot and left the Teufelstritt, only to be enraged when he ventured further inside and realized that windows had been included. The cathedral houses an elaborate 15th-century black-marble tomb guarded by four 16th-century armored knights. It's the final resting place of Duke Ludwig IV (1302–47), who became Holy Roman Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian in 1328. One of the Frauenkirche's great treasures is the collection of numerous wooden busts of the apostles, saints, and prophets above the choir, carved by the 15th-century Munich sculptor Erasmus Grasser. The observation platform high up in the south tower offers a splendid view of the city and the Alps. But beware, you must climb 86 steps to reach the tower elevator.