Speyer’s one-of-a-kind Protestant Memorial Church Gedächtniskirche

While Speyer, one of Germany’s oldest cities, is first and foremost known for the majestic Speyerer Dom Cathedral, there’s also a one-of-a-kind Protestant church not to be missed.

The Gedächtniskirche der Protestation (‘The Memorial Church of the Protestation’) was built between 1893 and 1904. It was constructed in memory of the protest that took place at the Diet of Speyer by the Protestant states of the Holy Roman Empire in 1529.

The tower is the tallest bell tower in the palatinate spiking 100 meter (330 feet) in air as as a highly visible reminder of the protest action that the imperial evangelical states brought to bear in 1529 at the Reichstag in Speyer. In addition, the Luther memorial in the vestibule and the adjacent statues of local Protestant rulers serve as reminders of this event on the inside.

During the cultural struggles at the end of the 19th century, relationships between Catholics and Protestants were tense. That had its impact on the construction of the Memorial Church which was, under no circumstances, to be any less assertive than the Cathedral. In any event, the construction was controversial, even for evangelical Christians.

Protestants from all backgrounds and not just Germany, but also from neighboring countries and afar collected donations to support the construction. They even gained the support of Kaiser Wilhelm II and his wife, who donated the glass window in the apse. Following the plans of Julius Flügge und Carl Nordmann, the church was built very lavishly out of white-gray Vosges sandstone.

Inspired by French Cathedrals

Unlike other German protestant churches that are much more restrained, this one-of-a-kind memorial church is reminiscent of the French cathedrals of the 13th centuries.

In 1979, the original organ was replaced. The current organ comes from the Detlef Kleuker workshop and is, with its 95 registers, the largest organ in southwest Germany and the second largest mechanical organ in the world. It is no surprise, that organ concerts and other prestigious musical events take place regularly in the Memorial Church.

And what better place than the Speyer Memorial Church to be the welcoming venue for the 2023 Springtime choir lead by Dr. Ariel Quintana that brings together singers from First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, Sierra Linda Master Chorale and La Sierra University together with Organist Dr. Kimo Smith, and an instrumental group directed by Dr. Dean Anderson. The musicians from California will be concertizing in Speyer on Wednesday, March 28, at 7:00 pm.

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