Abbey Church of St. Servatius, Quedlinburg (Jong-Soung Kimm)


The Abbey on Burgberg of Quedlinburg (pronounced Kvedlinbuerg) was founded in 936 by Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, at the request of his mother Queen Mathilda (later canonized as Saint Mathilda) in honor of Mathilda’s late husband and Otto’s father, King Heinrich I (Henry the Fowler) for unmarried daughters of nobility. Until its secularization in 1802, it was referred to as Reichsstift (Imperial Abbey) Quedlinburg. The abbey church is dedicated to St. Servatius of Tongeren (present day Netherlands) and St. Denis. Construction of the basilica plan church on the remains of no less than three earlier churches began sometime before 997, and was completed in 1021. The church was rebuilt, after a fire in 1070 caused a severe damage, to almost the present form we would assume, and rededicated in 1129 in the presence of Lothar III.

Abbey Church of St. Servatius,  Quedlinburg (Saxon-Anhalt)  Photo by Jong-Soung Kimm

Abbey Church of St. Servatius, Quedlinburg (Saxon-Anhalt) Photo by Jong-Soung Kimm

The abbey church, one of the masterpieces of the Ottonian Romanesque architecture, is composed of the nave, two aisles, transepts at the eastern end, and the raised choir above the crypt, the resting place of both Henry the Fowler and Mathilda. Both the north and south transepts also have shallow apsidal chapels. The view of the nave conveys a light-filled, airy space defined on either side by processions of precisely constructed niedersachsischer Stutzenwechsel, the pier – two column alternations. The capitals on columns, in contrast to the creative fantasies we observe on column capitals of southern Europe, show discipline and geometrical rigor while chiselling relatively shallow motifs of animals, flowers or purely geometrical design. The shape of the capitals comes across more as dosserets alone without the capitals of classical orders underneath.

Nave, Abbey Church of St. Servatius,  Quedlinburg (Saxon-Anhalt)  Photo by Jong-Soung Kimm

Nave, Abbey Church of St. Servatius, Quedlinburg (Saxon-Anhalt) Photo by Jong-Soung Kimm

The view of the nave elevation scheme shows the harmoniously proportioned piers, columns and arches resting on the dosseret-like capitals. Relatively generous clerestory windows let in abundance of light onto the beige-toned sandstone masonry, and transform the nave interior into a solemn, yet blissful space of meditation.

Abbey Church of St. Servatius,  Quedlinburg (Saxon-Anhalt)  Photo by Jong-Soung Kimm

Abbey Church of St. Servatius, Quedlinburg (Saxon-Anhalt) Photo by Jong-Soung Kimm

The view of the north aisle toward the nave, the raised choir and the southern nave wall shows off the high caliber of the master mason and the stone cutters well. Creativity is never lacking, but rather abundantly present, albeit within the intellectual and visual discipline. The column in foreground clearly shows an entasis.

North side aisle, Abbey Church of St. Servatius,  Quedlinburg (Saxon-Anhalt)  Photo by Jong-Soung Kimm

North side aisle, Abbey Church of St. Servatius, Quedlinburg (Saxon-Anhalt) Photo by Jong-Soung Kimm

The view from the choir toward the west shows a two level narthex. The entrance is located to the right (north side) of the narthex, as the west wall of the church abuts the abbey itself.

View of narthex, Abbey Church of St. Servatius,  Quedlinburg (Saxon-Anhalt)  Photo by Jong-Soung Kimm

View of narthex, Abbey Church of St. Servatius, Quedlinburg (Saxon-Anhalt) Photo by Jong-Soung Kimm

The view of the north aisle looking toward the west shows the access to the north tower and the upper narthex.

North side aisle, Abbey Church of St. Servatius,  Quedlinburg (Saxon-Anhalt)  Photo by Jong-Soung Kimm

North side aisle, Abbey Church of St. Servatius, Quedlinburg (Saxon-Anhalt) Photo by Jong-Soung Kimm

The south transept chapel is a picture of restraint itself, with a modest altar with a sculpture of Pieta.

South transept chapel, Abbey Church of St. Servatius,  Quedlinburg (Saxon-Anhalt)  Photo by Jong-Soung Kimm

South transept chapel, Abbey Church of St. Servatius, Quedlinburg (Saxon-Anhalt) Photo by Jong-Soung Kimm

The entire city of Quedlinburg is a UNESCO world cultural heritage site. In addition to the abbey church of St. Servatius, which alone would deserve the UNESCO recognition, there are over 1300 half-timber houses on cobble stone streets winding around the large Marktplatz situated at the center of the historic core.

Location: 51.785772° 11.137293°

✜ We are delighted to have another post from Jong-Soung Kimm on our Via Lucis site. For more information on Mr. Kimm, please see this link. ✜

17 responses to “Abbey Church of St. Servatius, Quedlinburg (Jong-Soung Kimm)

  1. > Quedlinburg (pronounced Kvedlinbuerg)
    Your pronounciation is not completely correct. The “u” in burg is like the “oo” in book, but a bit shorter then in “book” and the “r” is like the “r” in “part” while the final “g” is a bit less as hard as the “k” in “book”, but much harder then the “g” in ” burger”

  2. It’s a beautiful church, thanks for including it. We just discovered a beautiful Romanesque church in Franche -Comte and I couldn’t find it on your site. It’s St. Hymetiere, in the middle of nowhere seemingly, but in actuality it was once in the town of the same name. It was relocated further away after disaster struck the town.

    • Debora, we have the Église Sainte-Marie de Saint-Hymetière in the Jura in our database; is that the same church? We have not yet shot there – despite the fact that the Jura has always been one of my favorite areas in France. I see that the commune has only 75 residents!

    • Karyn, they are truly amazing. I saw from your blog earlier that you liked the hand-made. There is nothing so hand-made as one of these Romanesque churches. Glad you stopped by.

  3. I found many similarities between the church of St Servatius and the Collegiate Church of Ste Gertrude in Nivelles which we visited last year and is the subject of my latest posting.

  4. I loved visiting Quedlinburg/St. Servatius, and was disappointed photography was not allowed, so I’m thrilled with your post! I have a decent number of photos of the outside. When I feature the church on my blog I’ll link to this post!

    • Nancy, not sure what the account problem was, but thank you for posting. I see that you are very interested in medieval churches, especially the Romanesque. You’ve come to the right place!!! Welcome.

  5. maybe one of my favorites yet- ..the wooden ceilings and thick beams drew my attention ..what kind of wood?
    modernization…i could have never put a hole in columns or esp. the ceiling..nor put up the modern Crucifixion .. the only joy fr. this was they actually still use the church and it is restrained and aptly in tune with the church.
    the windows letting in tons of light was so pleasing to my eyes.
    the simple Pieta drew aw’s from me..

    • Kathryn, it is a wonderful early Romanesque/Ottonian church, much like Saint Etienne in Vignory and others of that time. I am not sure of the wood that is used; perhaps Jong-Soung will know. As far as the modernizations, it appears to me that the church is being treated quite reasonably. I am sure that the roof is restored regularly and the damage done by the piercings moderate. But it is interesting to me for another reason as well; this is a medieval church that is used for Protestant services and because of that, has a minimum of decoration. There is a famous medieval treasury (which was looted by an American soldier after World War II and only just recently restored to the Abbey) but it does not seem to be on display anywhere.

      • I don’t know the wood for the ceiling for sure, but it would be reasonable to surmise that it is made of oak. E.g. th tree of Jesse at St, Michael, Hildesheim. Jong-Soung

      • What a wonderful contrast between the tale of the beautifully bare now-Protestant building and the extraordinary treasures which appear as gilded, illuminated dollar-signs in the NY Times article you refer us to. Many thanks for that link too.

      • When I visited the church in 2007 the treasury items were on display in the raised area behind the altar. Is that not true now?

  6. actually, I’m having wordpress issues and am signed in under the wrong account. so, I’d like to delete that comment above and I’ll re-comment when I can work out my problems with wordpress. thanks!

  7. oh ? oak would seem right – stem of Jesse ,also the father of druid trees…but would they have imported a more resist. rain wood?
    oh do tell of the treasure that was taken and now returned..love mysteries 🙂 kathy

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