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Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

heidICON-Pool 'Fortified churches, towns and villages in Germany (Kirchenburgen)'

Pool name Fortified churches, towns and villages in Germany (Kirchenburgen)
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Fortified churches (Church-Castles)
The project started in 2006 and concentrated first on the area of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, reached the borders in 2011 and, when it was absolutely obvious that the borders of today were obsolete in that case, from 2012 over to the neighborhood federal states of Rheinland-Pfalz, Hessia and Bavaria. Within the latter (the “free state” of Bavaria) the region of middle and North Franconia also as the northern parts of Swabia were covered until the year 2013. In continuing, the federal state of Hessia was completed until 2014, and further investigations are in progress.
A list of content, structured by federal state, rural district and village, is available as PDF-document

Due to nature of time, only a few church-castles are in their origin size and status today, while some of the have been, almost party, restaurated. Most of them do have remnants of their fortified cemetery with loop holes, the church tower with slit holes or the former fortified nave, some of them lasting out from the Romanesque time. Finally, some of them do only exist in the old literature of the last 200 years, when people remembered these things better than we do today and described it in detail to preserve knowledge and history. Some of the fortified churches still existed in towns, if they had grown out form a big village, to which town rights were given to. The chronicles report from the church-castle as a part of the town defense within its own fortified cemetery. In village, the church-castles did mostly not only protect the inhabitants life in case of, very often they housed also natural goods as tax for the master. These church castles were also called “Gaden church-castle” due to their block-houses at the inner side of the curtain.

If not already destroyed by former wars, most of the fortified churches lost their „defense“ within the 19/20th century, when a new cemetery was founded outside the village. In accordance, the old one goes obsolete and the fortified walls were dismantled. Often also a new nave and church tower were build. Despite of these “soft destruction”, in many case parts of the walls, gate houses, or towers still exist, and you can find inscriptions od reliefs from out the Romanesque or Gothic period. The number of pictures taken for every “object” is correlated to these facts.

Towns and Villages
The Photodocumentation of the church castles showed very clear, that the history accordance to them in circumference is also of very special interest. Even if there is a town, grown out from a village which has had already a church castle, or a village itself, there was although the development of fortification and the view of the innermost by houses during the different architectural period. Therefore, this interesting fact, regional very different, is faced within the “Towns and villages”.
A list of content, structured by federal state, rural district and village, is available as PDF-file.

Characteristics / specifics

Fortified churches (Church-Castles)
In addition to the focus on fortification, secondary there are also points of interest by the pure art of the different architectural periods, like sculptures, inscriptions, ornaments in detail, or the nave in a general overview, for example. Although the view of general location is of interest. People who are interested only in defense architecture will have their benefit also as people interests in the pure stile of arts on the other hand. Whenever detail remaining (sometimes in combination too) they have been pictured either.

Towns and villages
A complete town fortifications, lasting from the Romanesque time, with Gothic upgraded and additions done within the Renaissance, is a gem. But they exist, in a few rare cases. Mostly, only parts or single towers have “survived”, although worth to be “documented”. Within the town or village, the houses made of half-timber or stone at all could last over several architectural periods and therefore the variety is given any way. In addition, there are wells, town halls, market-squares, crests, sculptures and more.

Reports to the theme

Fortified churches (Church-castles)
Workouts have been made due to the regional progress of the Photodocumentation, describing the general historic background within although as the single objects in brief case with reflection to „old“ literature descriptions then, if available. They are available as PDF-files:

  1. Baden Württemberg: Nördlicher Bereich. Darstellung des erhaltenen Bestandes in den Jahren 2004-2008
  2. Baden Württemberg: Mitte. Darstellung des erhaltenen Bestandes im Jahre 2009
  3. Baden Württemberg (und Umgebung). Darstellung des erhaltenen Bestandes im Jahre 2010
  4. Baden Württemberg (und Umgebung). Darstellung des erhaltenen Bestandes im Jahre 2011
  5. “Church Castles”. A Photodokumentation of the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg and selected districts of the surrounding Federal States of Bayern, Hessen, Rheinland-Pfalz and Thüringen (2006-2012)

Towns and Villages
A report is currently (2015) under progress

Search tips
Quantity Fortified churches (Church-castles): ca. 4,000 data sets as of 04/2018
Towns and Villages: ca. 3,000 data sets as of 04/2018
Access universally by means of the guest portal
or via Prometheus.
Contact Brief Dr. Maria Effinger
Tel: +49 6221-54-3561
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