Heiligen-Geist-Kirche is located in Barmstedt, a town in Schleswig-Holstein about 20 miles north-west of Hamburg.
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Visiting Barmstedt Heiligen-Geist-Kirche
The Heiligen-Geist-Kirche (Church of the Holy Ghost) is unusual among the Round Tower Churches of Schleswig-Holstein in more than one way. First, there is its location. While the other churches are more or less rural, this church is in the middle of the small town of Barmstedt (population approx. 10,000). As I knew that the church was usually locked, I had timed my visit for a Sunday morning, knowing that a mass would be over then, and I would definitely get into the church. Unfortunately, however, I was also urged to take my photos in a relative short period of time, as they wanted to close the church again as soon as possible. Therefore, the interior photos only allow a more general overview, I was not able to take in all the interesting features. Combined with the poor quality of the photos due to an old digital camera, this means that we will have to visit this church again. Unfortunately, the opening hours – as you can see in the info box above – are still very limited. But maybe there will be an opportunity for an individual visit after the current situation is over.
The church is also unusual because of its ground plan. In its present form, it was only built in 1717/18 by J.L. Nerger. The round tower, however, is of Romanesque origin and built of fieldstones. In the course of its conversion into a Baroque hall church, however, it was rebuilt like the rest of the church with the red bricks typical of northern Germany. The lower third of the tower was additionally sheathed in an octagonal form with bricks. Another striking feature is the very high pointed spire, which, in conjunction with the narrow enclosure, makes it almost impossible to take outdoor photographs of this church in which the church can be seen in its entirety. The ground plan is rectangular with a three-sided east end, which can be seen particularly well in the first exterior shot in the slide show above.
One enters the church through a door in the west wall of the tower and reaches the main room under the west gallery. The first thing you notice here is the gallery-like patronage box on the south wall. Opposite it on the north wall is the pulpit from the year the church was built. On a statue of Mose is the five-sided basket with seated figures of Christ and the four evangelists. Putti and angels are depicted on the sounding board, and a staircase with a door and a picture of Luther leads to the pulpit.
The altar has a late Baroque design and shows a sculptural cross group in the centre and the figures of St Peter and Paul at the sides. The crowning shows figures of the Risen Christ with putti and angels. Behind the altar along the three-sided east end runs the east gallery, below which are two pastors’ boxes. The ceiling painting from 1754-56 by H. H. Morthorst is spectacular, showing individual scenes from the Old Testament and the Lamb of God in the east. The stately organ from 1720 is located on the west gallery.
For lovers of the baroque, this church is certainly an absolute eye-catcher, but unfortunately I do not belong to this group. I prefer simple churches, as you can see from my favourite church, St Margaret in Hales/Norfolk. Therefore, despite the magnificent interior, this church cannot really warm my heart. But of course it is still worth seeing.