Hofkirche at the Residenz

At the Würzburg Residenz there is a Hofkirche (Court Chapel).  The Hofkirche has been on my mind since we we visited last week.  Since college I’ve had an interest in how thoughtful architecture (use of natural light, acoustics, scale) can influence sacred spaces, and the Residenz chapel was breathtaking.

Below are a few more photos.  The planning architect of the Hofkirche was Balthasar Neumann, a german, who designed the adjacent palace. The paintings within the Hofkirche were badly damaged by fire and water during WWII and were restored in the twenty years following the war.

(click to enlarge)

Hofkirche2  Hofkirchefull



  1. Great stuff so far, I love the details. Out of curiosity, any new thoughts on the architecture of sacred spaces? This is a topic I’d love to hear more about. Sublime experiences usually need multiple modalities to engender a sence of different, special, or rarified. Physical space is no small part of this. Plus my taste runs less grim, gothic, or baroque and more Scandinavian and modernist. The contrast could be enlightening.

    1. Thank you!
      Agree, one could spend a lifetime understanding what makes some spaces feel secular and others spiritual. It is a multi-sensory experience. I am still in observation mode. My aesthetic is minimalist also, so I was surprised by my admiration of the opulent hofkirche and stern St Lorenz. I will try to draw some conclusions in the next year or so.

    2. Hi Kris, Good to hear from you! Wow after a quick wikipedia search I would say sublime is the perfect way to describe the churches/cathedrals we have seen. “In short, the Beautiful, is what is well-formed and aesthetically pleasing, whereas the Sublime is what has the power to compel and destroy us.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Philosophical_Enquiry_into_the_Origin_of_Our_Ideas_of_the_Sublime_and_Beautiful

      my impression: These sacred spaces reflect a very different public interaction with religion in 1400-1500 than bright, optimistic spaces in modern churches. A shift due to the need for the modern church to appeal more to parishioners? These spaces seem to dictate more than comfort/inspire.

      1. Did gothic medieval churches like Lorenzkirche intend to inspire hope or comfort? Were they social meeting places? These might be the secondary goals of modern religion.

        Our churches have marketing campaigns.

        I feel like a cluck for going in this direction, but I remember how dang long it took them to build that church in Ken Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth”! teamwork for God!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s