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St. Jacob's Church in Rothenburg
                      A place of devotion & artistry by Tilman Riemenschneider
St. Jacob's Church in Rothenburg
                      A place of devotion & artistry by Tilman Riemenschneider
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A place of devotion & artistry by Tilman Riemenschneider

The St. Jacob's Church in Rothenburg

The fascinating St. Jacob’s Church in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, situated along the famous St. James’ Way to Santiago de Compostela, is not only a place of prayer, but also a magnet for more than 1,000 pilgrims every year. Among all the precious treasures that this church holds, the magnificent Holy Blood Altar by Tilman Riemenschneider shines as a true jewel, praised worldwide for its incomparable beauty and artistic design.

But St. Jacob’s Church, whose construction was completed over a period of more than 170 years between 1311 and 1484, has far more to offer than is apparent at first glance. Let’s dive in and discover the many reasons that justify a detailed visit to this historic landmark.

Within the walls of St. Jacob's Church, history interweaves with song, stone with soul and silence with reverence. Here, the past breathes and the future sings.

St. Jacob's Church and the relic of the Holy Blood

in the altar by Tilman Riemenschneider

It may seem surprising that a relic can be found in a Protestant church of all places. But in the case of the Riemenschneider Altarpiece, this apparent paradox becomes a fascinating mystery of history. During the turbulent times of confessional change, this extraordinary altar remained intact and preserved its secrets.

The wooden altar, a masterpiece by Riemenschneider depicting the Last Supper, rises majestically in the western high choir. The relic is enthroned above the ornate carvings in an artistically designed cross. A fascinating legend surrounds this sacred artifact: a cloth is said to have once been soaked in mass wine, symbolizing the blood of Jesus.

But the magic of the altar lies not only in this mystical tale. During a visit, it is worth exploring the numerous hidden details, from ornate carvings to hidden symbols. To really discover all the secrets of the altar, it is therefore highly recommended that you take part in one of the daily guided tours of the church. This opens the door to a fascinating journey through time and art, making the Riemenschneider altar an unforgettable experience.

Discover the Herlin Altar

Incidentally, fleeting glances often miss the Riemenschneider altar when they enter the venerable St. Jacob’s Church. The focus is inevitably drawn to the magnificent main altar in the east choir, a work by Friedrich Herlin that is in no way inferior to the Riemenschneider altar in terms of importance. Known as the 12 Messengers Altar, it unfolds an impressive narrative.

The wings of the main altar present the pilgrimage of St. James to Santiago de Compostela in impressive images. But that is not all. The finely crafted details of this altar conceal a historical treasure: the oldest depiction of Rothenburg’s market square. A closer look reveals the old council drinking room and the Rothenburg town hall before the fire of 1501, with its Gothic facade that looks like an artistic time capsule. A veritable feast for the eyes and curiosity about bygone eras.

Morning play of colors:
The windows in the east choir

Early in the morning, the windows in the east choir of the venerable town church of St. Jacob in Rothenburg ob der Tauber light up in a veritable festival of colors. This spectacle reaches its full splendor when the sun sends its rays and illuminates the windows in a kaleidoscope of colors. It is as if the windows are communicating with the light itself in a harmonious dance.

A special jewel among these windows tells the moving story of the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt. In a fascinating interpretation of this epic journey, instead of the traditional manna, bread rains down on the fleeing people. This creative redesign conveys in an original, Bavarian-Franconian way the divine support that was given to the people on their arduous journey through the desert. A real feast for the eyes and a source of inspiration to experience the profound connection between art and spirituality.

The organ concerts at St. Jacob's

The Rieger organ in St. Jacob’s Church is undoubtedly one of Bavaria’s gigantic musical treasures. With its imposing dimensions, it impresses musicians and listeners alike. At any time of the year, the church hosts short, free organ concerts that fill the soul with their sound. But during Advent, the experience takes on a whole new dimension when visitors have the opportunity to be enchanted by the festive organ music in 30-minute concerts.

A fascinating detail: this remarkable organ in St. Jacob has a unique ability. It can be played from both sides, both towards the majestic nave and towards the west choir, where the famous altar by Tilman Riemenschneider is enthroned. This duality adds an extra dimension to the musical performance, immersing churchgoers in an impressive listening experience.

Interestingly, the two towers of St. Jacob’s Church have different heights, giving the architectural ensemble a subtle but remarkable asymmetry. This underlines the diversity and uniqueness that can be discovered in every corner of this historically significant church.

Opening hours of the St. Jacob's Church in Rothenburg

  • January to March & November: 12:00 PM – 03:00 PM
  • April to October: 10:00 AM – 06:00 PM
  • During the Christmas market: 10:00 AM – 17:00 PM


Please note that these times are subject to change. A visit to this historically and artistically significant church is an unforgettable experience on your trip through Rothenburg ob der Tauber. You can also find more information here: rothenburg.de

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Useful information

Plan your visit according to the opening hours of St. Jacob's Church:

Opening hours:

  • January to March and November: 12:00 PM – 03:00 PM
  • April to October: 10:00 AM – 06:00 PM
  • During the Christmas market: 10:00 AM – 05:00 PM

Please note that opening hours are subject to change.

Address:
Marktplatz 2 | 91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday: 09:00 AM - 05:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM - 01:00 PM
Sunday: closed

Address:
Marktplatz 1 | 91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Opening hours:
vary according to the respective office
You can find further information here: www.rothenburg.de

BEAUTY OF BYGONE ERAS

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Colored facades, slanted gables, wooden beams, golden inscriptions, ornaments, and original carvings – not only do our whimsical half-timbered houses in Rothenburg ob der Tauber possess incredible charm. Get to know the most beautiful places and TOP sights of our enchanting city.

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Contact

Hotel Gotisches Haus
Herrngasse 13
DE-91541 Rothenburg o.d.T.

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