Katharinenkirche (or St. Catherine’s Church) is one of Hamburg’s five major churches. The sacral building was erected on a foundation of 1,100 larch tree trunks that were driven into the soil as early as the 13th century. Legend has it that there’s a pirate’s treasure hidden down there.
One of the city’s main churches
Official records mention the three naves of St. Catherine’s as early as 1256. The brick church lies in direct proximity of the port, the Speicherstadt and HafenCity. Other sights in the same area are the St. Nikolai church ruin, the Spiegel editing house and the Deichstraße historic street.
In summer of 2019, the church finished a massive twelve years of renovations and has been showing off its true splendour ever since, with the steeple and the viewing platform looking as good as new. The historic organ too has been restored. This beautiful instrument was once played by no less than Johann Sebastian Bach himself and its golden ornaments are said to have once belonged to the legendary pirate Klaus Störtebeker.
On Tuesdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the church hosts a weekly market. Fresh produce, baked goods and local specialties are sold on the church square.
St. Catharine’s throughout the centuries
Named after a Cyprian princess, the church is especially well-known for its copper-and-gold steeple, which is widely considered the most beautiful church tower in the city. Second only to the Neuwerk lighthouse, the church is also the second-oldest building in Hamburg to include a tower of its height. Though over the centuries, the steeple has required reconstructions several times.
Reconstruction works after WWII
During the second world war, the church was mostly destroyed. Only the outer walls and the lower parts of the tower avoiding falling victim to the ravaging flames. In 1957, the 116.7 metre-tall belfry was rebuilt, modeled after a 17th century church tower. The baroque-style spire is made of steel with a coating of copper and even some gold. On the top sits the crown of Catherine. Soon after, in 1962, the church and large parts of the surrounding neighbourhoods were flooded by the Elbe river. But the church stood this test of time as well, and its beauty marks Hamburg's skyline still.
Bus lines 4 and 6 to Brandstwiete