Munich's Frauenkirche

Frauenkirche in Munich, Germany
••• Bastian Stein

The Catholic Church of Our Blessed Lady (or Dom zu Unserer Lieben Frau) is usually just called Frauenkirche in German. It is Munich's largest church and a major landmark of the city.

Significance of Munich's Frauenkirche

The Frauenkirche is one of the most identifiable churches in Germany. Together with the Town Hall, the elegant twin towers of the Cathedral shape Munich's skyline. Because of this, it makes a great point of orientation anywhere in the city.

It is, in fact, the epicenter of the city. If a sign says “Munich 12 km,” that equals the distance between you and the north tower of the church.

History of Munich's Frauenkirche

The humble Marienkirche parish church was established on this site in 1271. Yet, it took almost 200 years to lay the foundation of the late Gothic church we see today.

Duke Sigismund commissioned the work by Jörg von Halsbach. Brick was chosen for the building as there were no nearby quarries. The towers were erected in 1488 with the signature onion domes added in 1525. They were modeled on the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The church towers are such a landmark, in part, because they can be seen from all over the city. This is not an accident. Local height limits prohibit buildings with a height exceeding 99 meters in the city center.

The Frauenkirche was heavily damaged during World War II bombings. The roof collapsed, a tower was hit and the historic interior was almost completely destroyed.

One of the few things that survived intact was the Teufelstritt, or Devil's Footstep. This is a black mark which resembles a footprint and is said to be where the devil stood as he ridiculed the church. Another theory is that it is the result of a pact with the devil made by von Halsbach in order to finance the construction of the church.

And yet another story goes that the appearance of having no windows when viewed from the porch pleased the devil so much that he stamped his foot, leaving a mark.

It could hold an impressive 20,000 standing people (today's seating is 4,000). This is especially notable as Munich only numbered 13,000 inhabitants at the end of the 15th century. An interesting point is the legend that its creator, von Halsbach, dropped dead at the very moment the last stone was put in place.

After the war, restoration immediately began. Work was finally completed in 1994 and the site is now open to the public and for service.

Visitor Info for Munich's Frauenkirche

Visitors can visit the magnificent interior and even climb all the way up the south tower for spectacular views of Munich.

Highlights of the interior:

  • Teufelstritt
  • 15th-century stained-glass window behind the altar
  • Enormous figure of St. Christopher from 1520
  • Bronze reliefs of three people beatified by the Pope: Mother Theresa, Rupert Mayer (a German priest who struggled against the Nazis) and Kaspar Stanggassinger (famous German priest)
  • Wooden busts of the apostles, saints, and prophets carved by the 15th-century Munich sculptor Erasmus Grasser
  • The more than 20 individual chapels dedicated to saints, apostles and local trades and guilds.

    There are guided tours from May until September on Sundays, Tuesday and Thursdays at 15:00 at the Orgelmpore.

    Address:

    Frauenplatz 1, 80331 Munich

    Contact:

    Website: www.muenchner-dom.de

    Phone: +49 (0)89/29 00 820

    Getting There:

    Take the subway U3 or U6 to “Marienplatz

    Opening Hours:

    Daily: 7:30 – 20:30 summer; 7:30 – 20:00 winter

    Climbing the Tower:

    Active visitors may climb the tower of the Frauenkirche for a breathtaking view of Munich's cityscape and the Bavarian Alps. Be forewarned there is 86 steps til the elevator, but that hasn't stopped legends like Anton Adner making it up on his own power in 1819 at the age of 110!

    Note that the towers are currently closed for construction

    Church Services:

     

    If you are planning a visit, note that visitors are not allowed to enter the church during a service.

    Monday – Saturday: 9:00 and 17:30 
    Sunday and holidays: 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:45, 12:00 and 18:30

    Concerts:

    Check the official website of the Church of Our Lady for the concert schedule and tickets.