St. Nicholas’ Church, Hamburg

St. Nicholas Church Hamburg - aerial view nowadays

Located in the city of Hamburg, in Germany, the ruined Church of St. Nicholas and its previous structures narrate a story of historical warfare and destruction. The church, in its first expression, was erected in the late 12th century as a wooden chapel. The works to construct a brick church started in the 14th century, and a high tower was added some 200 years after that.

The tower burned, was re-erected, collapsed half a century after that, and only the third try would last to dominate the skyline of Hamburg for a few centuries. This church was turned to ashes in the great fire of Hamburg in 1842, which destroyed most of the city. Finally, another church was built right after, in a neo-gothic style.

Its imponent spire was completed in 1874, which gave the church the record for the highest building in the world. With the height of 147.3 meters, the record was held for a couple of years, until the construction of the cathedral of Rouen, France. During World War II, the St. Nicholas’ Church was used as an orientation point for the Allied Air Forces’ pilots.

In July 1943, the church was bombed and its roof collapsed, leaving its interior destroyed. After the War ended, the damaged walls were demolished, leaving the spire as a memorial against war. Since then, an elevator was built inside it, to provide visitors with a panoramic view of the city.