The Michel – Hamburg’s most famous church

The ‘Michel’ is the landmark of Hamburg. The 132 metre-high tower can be seen from far away. And during a stroll through the city centre, you never lose sight of the distinctive copper dome. The Protestant church is actually called St. Michael’s, and is situated in the southern new town, not far from the port and the Landungsbrücken (landing stages). The Archangel Michael stands as a huge bronze statue over the main entrance.

The Michel is one of the most beautiful and important Baroque churches in northern Germany and can look back on an eventful history. Today is the third reconstruction of the church; the first burnt down in 1750 following a lightning strike, and in 1906 soldering work triggered a devastating fire in the tower that totally destroyed the church. The third building was badly damaged during the bombing of Hamburg in World War II, and only reopened in 1952. In today’s construction there is only the white marble font, donated by local business people, and the collection box still preserved from the second St. Michael’s Church.

From its viewing platform, 106 metres above the Elbe, the tower offers visitors one of the most beautiful views over the Hanseatic city of Hamburg. The clock in the church tower is also impressive, the biggest in Germany; the four clock faces have a diameter of 8 metres, the minute hands are 5 metres long and the hour hands 3.6 metres.

The inside of the church is also awe-inspiring. The Michel has in total five church organs, among them a huge Steinmeyer organ with 85 stops, 5 keyboards and 6,674 pipes; a romantic Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy organ in the crypt, and for the last 2 years the Carl Phillip Emanual Bach organ in the south gallery. Visitors can listen to 20 minutes of organ playing, daily at 12 noon at the midday prayer, and let the whole atmosphere of the church sink in.

A special tourist attraction is the 300-year-old custom of the Michel trumpeter; daily at 10am and 9pm (and on Sundays and public holidays also at 12 noon) the tower warden plays his hymns towards all four cardinal points.

The Michel is open daily, from November to April from 10am to 6pm, and from May to October from 9am to 8pm. The last entry is 30 minutes before closing time.

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