Achern St Nikolaus-Kapelle
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St Nikolaus-Kapelle is located in Achern, a small town in Baden-Württemberg about halfway between Baden-Baden and Offenburg. It is called “Klauskirchl” locally.
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Visiting Nikolauskapelle Achern
Much of the history of the Chapel of St. Nicholas in Achern, affectionately called the “Klauskirchl” by the locals, still lies in the dark. However, there is a detailed scholarly paper (in German!) linked in the info box above, which you can download if you are further interested in this pretty little chapel.
The chapel itself is normally kept locked, but you can get the key at the tourist information centre not far away.
The chapel is the oldest preserved monument and landmark in the town of Achern. Today it is centrally located on the Bundesstraße 3 near the Acherbrücke bridge. In earlier times, the nearby Acher often overflowed its banks. The water masses tore away bridges and footbridges, damaged the mostly lightly built houses and flooded fields and meadows for miles around. With the erection of a chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas, the faithful could implore the help of the emergency helper against the danger of an impending flood.
The earliest documented mention of the “Klauskirchl” is in the court order of Unterachern, written in 1559. Here we read that the bailiff of Achern receives the “gefäll” (income) of the “S. Niclausen capell”. The first known donor was a priest in 1641, who donated a considerable sum to the chapel in his will.
During the renovation of the “Klauskirchl” in 1972, historians tried to get to the bottom of the mystery of its origin. Excavations uncovered a second masonry wall, carefully set on top of each other and consisting of unhewn granite blocks. Unfortunately, the work, which was completed in 1974, was pressed for time, so that a meticulous archaeological investigation of the find material was out of the question.
The beginnings of the chapel go back to the twelfth, perhaps even to the eleventh century, suspects local chronicler Hugo Schneider. At that time, it was a small hall measuring about 4.05 metres in width and 5.25 metres in length. According to the excavators, today’s “Klauskirchl” was built at the end of the 13th century on a two-metre high pile of rubble from the previous building.
Inside, the wall paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries are particularly worth seeing. These were freshened up during the aforementioned renovation, and the high altar from the 19th century had to make way for a simple altar table. The figure of St. Nicholas from the 15th century was re-framed and new stained glass windows were inserted.