Sunday, 6 August 2017

Doberan Minster Church

After looking around Schloss Ludwigslust's gardens we headed for the Mecklenburg-Pomeranian coast and pitched our tent at the campsite 'Ostseecamping am Salzhaff'.

Then we headed out to explore the area, and it being Sunday visited the Doberaner Münster in Bad Doberan.

The minster was formerly a Cistercian abbey, founded in 1171 at Althof just South East of Bad Doberan, after the conversion to Christianity of Prince Pribislav of Mecklenburg, undertaken by the missionary Berno, Apostle of the Obotrites. On the death of Pribislav in 1178, caused by a wound he received at a tournament in Lüneburg, the community of monks at Althof were massacred by a faction of the Obotrites (a Wendish/Slavic tribe) who hadn't taken to Christianity as eagerly as Pribislav.

In 1186 the abbey was moved to Bad Doberan, and this time it flourished and became the political, social and spiritual centre of the Mecklenburg region.

It is a most impressive building, absolutely enormous and yet well balanced and lyrical in its architecture. It is a magnificent example of Backsteingotik (brick Gothik), showing that lack of natural stone resources locally in Northern Europe didn't stop the builders of early Christian churches from creating vast structures both aesthetically pleasing and able to withstand the centuries.

The church interior is as impressive as the exterior, and worth the admission charge. Until the Protestant Reformation, when it was secularised in 1552, the church was the burial place for many of the princes of Mecklenburg and other notables such as Margaret Sambiria, Queen Consort of King Christopher 1st of Denmark. The richly coloured interior still retains many of these graves and memorials, as well as a beautiful triptych and other medieval Christian artefacts.

(excuse the poor quality of the next photos. No flash allowed in the Minster!)

Some of the tombs are like stage sets or dramatic friezes. Impossible for me to capture with my lens and no tripod, but hey, you'll just have to go and see for yourself!

Other artwork looks to be more recent, possibly from the Gothik revival era of the nineteenth century, but interesting non-the-less.

Inside the Minster are a collection of contemporary sculptures by Walter Green. This (I think temporary) exhibition is called 'Skulpturen mit Vorleben: Bitte berühren!' which I like to think translates as 'Sculptures with a back-story: Please touch!' And indeed, signs encourage you to feel the sculptures, which are incredibly tactile and sensuous.

One of my favourites is this:

It is titled 'Und meine Seele spannte Weit ihre Flügel aus', which are lines from the poem 'Mondnacht' (moonlit night) by the late-Romantic poet Joseph von Eichendorf. The lines translate as something like 'and my soul unfolded wide her wings' (and then in the poem, flew home). It sends a shiver down your neck.

There is a permanent sculpture outside the mister worth looking at as well, the 1986 'Ehrenmal für die Opfer des Faschismus' (memorial to the victims of fascism) by Reinhard Dietrich (1932-2015). I'm not quite sure I understand what it is saying, but I find it very powerful in its dynamism.

Also in the grounds are a number of ruins in varying states of decay that are worth exploring.

In summary, a most interesting and relaxing place to visit on a sunny Sunday afternoon. But all too soon we had to make our way back to the tent and get some food going on the gas stove.

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