Salzhausen St Johannis
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St Johannis-Kirche is located in Salzhausen, a village in Niedersachsen about 10 miles west of the town Lüneburg.
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Visiting Salzhausen St Johannis
A short preface to the churches in Lower Saxony and the quality and quantity of the photos: I visited all these churches “in a hurry”: I was in the region (which I don’t visit very often) and wanted to have “a couple of photos” of each one as quickly as possible for the website. But that is exactly how they look, and the quality especially of the interior photos (if there are any at all…) is also really bad, which is due to the old digital camera I still had at that time (we’re talking about 2006 here). Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity since to visit the churches in the region again and take more, more meaningful and better photos. So for the time being I have to make do with the ones I have.
St. Johannis (John the Baptist) church in Salzhausen is one of the churches I found locked during my visit, but this is not because it is usually locked, but because of bad timing on my part: as the tower clock in the photos shows, I was at the church at 5.40 pm, and the opening hours are – see info box – only until 5 pm. So there are only a few exterior shots, none of the interior. This means, of course, that we have to visit the church again as soon as possible (and then we should be there during the regular opening hours…). Therefore, the following information is taken from the church guide linked above.
Salzhausen was first mentioned in a document in 1057, although various finds in the vicinity suggest a much earlier settlement. Salzhausen was an archdeaconry district from the 11th century onwards. Due to the lack of early written documents, it is not possible to determine exactly when the church of St. Johannis was built. The name patron saint John the Baptist, which was frequently used in the earliest times, suggests that a church here was founded very early, probably as early as the 9th century as a baptismal church. The substructure of the altar can be dated to the early 12th century. A documentary record of the church, however, does not begin until the year 1300.
The round tower was added in1464, and the wall is an astonishing 2.50 m thick. There are no records of any other earlier use as a defence tower or similar. The materials of the walls as they can be seen today at least on the outer skin are also astonishing: a colourful mishmash of red brick with natural fieldstones. Unfortunately, I was not able to find an explanation for this.
The chancel with its Gothic ribbed vault and triumphal arch was built in the same year as the tower. Major alterations took place in 1643 shortly before the end of the Thirty Years’ War. The cross vault was replaced by a wooden barrel vault and the church was painted, of which some angels can still be seen today. The half-timbered external gable on the east wall was also designed during these alterations, as can be seen from the inscription between the fieldstones and half-timbering.
The pulpit from 1569 with images of the four great prophets and Moses dates from the Renaissance period. Unusual is the bronze baptismal font from the early 14th century, which stands on four figures.
The altarpiece is from 1697; in the centre is a panel painting of the Crucifixion, above it the Resurrection and below it the Last Supper. The carved figures on the left are Moses with the tablets of the law, on the right the patron saint John the Baptist. The modern windows of the choir date from 1967.
On the parapet of the organ loft are 13 paintings of Christ and his disciples and apostles, dating from the end of the 17th century.
The present two bells were cast in 1883 and 1953.