Questions and answers
Q: When was St. Mary’s Church built?
A: Construction began toward the end of the 13th century, around 1270, and was completed early in the 14th century. It was built as an early Gothic hall church. In the 15th century it acquired the tower at the front, and in 1790 the architect Carl Gotthard Langhans (the architect of the Brandenburg Gate) crowned the tower with a Baroque and Neo-Gothic dome.
Q: What kind of church is this?
A: St. Mary’s is a Protestant church. Before the Reformation it was Catholic. In the year 1539 it became Protestant.
Q: Why are some of the pews in a transverse position to the others?
A: After the war, the pulpit was moved forward from the second pillar to its present position by the fifth pillar. Several pews were then aligned toward the pulpit; the other pews were left in the original line of vision.
Q: When are the services in this church?
A: Sunday morning worship is at 10:30.
An organ recital and meditation takes place every thursday and fridays at 1:30pm and every Saturday from may to october at 4:30 p.m.
Q: What is the “Dance of Death”?
A: It is a fresco (2 meters high, 22 meters long) located in the entrance hall. It was painted around 1485. All classes of society, spiritual and worldly, are dancing with death. Death and his victims are depicted as moving at a slow and dignified gait. The first message that visitors receive when entering the church is “Learn that you must die, that you may gain a heart of wisdom.” (from Psalm 90)
Q: Why was such a fresco painted?
A: The epidemics in the Dark Ages, such as the bubonic plague, were very frequent and destructive. This always brought up the subject of death and its universal power and led to its treatment in dramatic form. Death appears not as the destroyer, but as the messenger of God summoning people to Heaven, the world beyond the grave.
The architect Stüler discovered the fresco in 1860 under many layers of paint. Now it is our goal to restore it to its original colors.
Q: What is the purpose of the model mosaic?
A: The colored mosaic tiles, which you can glue on the “Dance of Death” model, are being sold, and the proceeds are used for the preservation of the church’s art treasures, especially the “Dance of Death” fresco.
We ask for a donation of 2.50 euros per tile. With the purchase of 15 tiles, one hour of art restoration can be financed. It will take 70 thousand tiles to complete this model of the “Dance of Death”.
Q: What are some of the great works of art in this church?
A: 1. The bronze baptismal font was created in 1437 and is supported by three black dragons. It displays figures of Jesus Christ, Mary and the apostles. The dragons symbolize the demons that are conquered by the sacrament of baptism.
2. The carved wooden retable at the center of the Gothic altar in the back of the nave was created around 1510 and features three unknown Dominican monks.
3. “The Crucifixion”, painted by Michael Ribestein in 1562.
4. The alabaster pulpit was created by Andreas Schlüter in 1703. It is decorated with bas-reliefs of John the Baptist and personifications of Faith, Hope, and Love.
5. The main Baroque altar was designed around 1762 by Andreas Krüger. The three paintings are The Removal of Jesus Christ from the Cross (center), Christ on the Mount of Olives (right), and Doubting Thomas and the Disciples in Emmaus (left), painted by Christian Bernhard Rode in 1761. The stone sculpture at the top was created by Meyer.
6. The stone relief “Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane” was created in the early 15th century.
Q: Where do all the church’s art treasures come from?
A: They come from other churches in Berlin that were destroyed in the Second World War or that had fallen into ruins after the Middle Ages. Most of them come from the Nikolai church and the Franciscan monastery church (the ruins of which are in the Klosterstraße).
Q: When was the organ installed in the church?
A: In 1720/21 the organ builder Joachim Wagner built the mechanical organ works, and it took the sculptor, Johann Georg Glume, until 1723 to create the prospect of the organ. In 1742 the gilded decorations were added.
Q: Was St. Mary’s destroyed during WW2?
A: The church was somewhat damaged, but not destroyed. The damages were repaired in 1950.
Q: Since when is the statue of Martin Luther situated beside the church?
A: The 3 1/2 meter bronze statue of the Reformer Martin Luther on a granite pedestal was set up at the New Market in 1893. It was created by the sculptors M.P. Otto (sculptor of the Humboldt monuments at the University) and Robert Toberentz. For the 500th birthday of Luther in 1983, the statue was placed at its present location next to St. Mary’s on the north side of the church.
Q: How do I get to the Berliner Dom (the Protestant cathedral)?
A: Walk up the street (Karl-Liebknecht-Straße) in the direction of “Unter den Linden”, cross the Spree River and turn right at the next street to reach the entrance of the Dom.
Q: Where is the nearest Catholic church?
A: There is Catholic mass in St. Hedwig’s Cathedral at the rear of Bebelplatz.
Q: How do I get to Saint Hedwig’s Cathedral (the Catholic cathedral)?
A: Walk up this street (Karl-Liebknecht Str.) in the direction of “Unter den Linden”, cross the Spree River and continue on till you reach Bebelplatz. Go left over the Bebelplatz - St. Hedwig’s is behind the State Opera House.
Q: Where are the toilets?
A: We have toilets only for our staff and the people who attend our services. We do not have public toilets. Public toilets can be found across the street near the taxi stand, in the S-Bahn train station at Alexanderplatz, or in the large Kaufhof department store.