Stiftskirche (Collegiate Church)
It is the largest and architecturally most valuable Gothic Church of the Palatinate .
When comparing with the main steeple of the neighbouring St. Marienkirche, both churches have a lot in common, although historically separated by a number of centuries. The Gothic architecture, the floor plan in the shape of a cross, the use of local sandstone as reflected by both red and yellow sandstone and Saint Mary, as their patron saint. Both churches also have an archaic fortification, best seen in the shape of demon-repellent gargoyles on the facade of the Stiftskirche. The architectural differences are no less impressive. Soon after the founding of the Collegiate (1356) by the Rhenish Palatinate Count Rudolf II and Ruprecht I of the House of Wittelsbach, the construction of the Stiftskirche "Our Lady " was started. The choir room with the its two oratorios, the painted ceilings and the stained glass windows, of which otherwise only a few remnants can be seen in museums in Speyer and Brussels, was originally designed as a burial site, as can be seen by the numerous tomb slabs, including that of the founder, in the choir room. The monumental memorial painting shows the two rulers, King Ruprecht I, together with his wife, Elisabeth von Hohenzollern, and their son, Count Palatine Louis III, with his wife, Blanka of England, in devotional posture before the Last Judgment .
A few years later, following the Declaration of Religion of 1705, a dividing wall had to be built inside the church, allowing the simultaneous use by both Protestants and Catholics. A wall which, due to lack of funding and the regulations regarding listed buildings, is still protected from demolition.
Remains of the original church can be seen in the stone pulpit and the torso of the choir stalls, as Gothic treasures from the 15th century. The entrance between the two towers with its ceiling frescos reminiscent of Saint Mary, the church patron, were restored in 2005 and is an absolute “must” for every visitor.
Facts and figures:
1368: Foundation stone laid
1383: Consecration of the choir
1489: Twin Towers completed
1707: Division of the Church into a Protestant and a Catholic section. Tomb of the Count Palatine Rudolf II