Thomaskirche, Leipzig

Thomaskirche (St. Thomas's Church) in Leipzig has hosted several important Germans over the years, most notably Bach and Luther.


History of Thomaskirche

Thomaskirche was built as part of a 13th-century monastery, but now stands on its own. Its tall roof dates from 1496, and the church was heavily restored after World War II.

Martin Luther preached here on Whitsunday 1539, signaling the arrival of Protestantism in Leipzig. Bach's 12 children and the infant Richard Wagner were baptized in the early 17th-century font, and both Mozart and Mendelssohn performed here. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels also stood before this same font as godfathers to Karl Liebknecht, who grew up to be a revolutionary as well.

Bach was choirmaster at this Gothic church for 27 years. The great music Bach wrote during his Leipzig years commanded little attention in his lifetime, and when he died, he was given a simple grave, without a headstone, in the city's Johannisfriedhof (St. John Cemetery).

It wasn't until 1894 that an effort was made to find where the great composer lay buried. After a thorough and macabre search his coffin was removed to the Johanniskirche. That church was destroyed by Allied bombs in December 1943, and Bach subsequently found his final resting place in the church he surely would have selected: the Thomaskirche.

Bach was a member of and wrote most of his cantatas for the church's famous boys' choir, the Thomanerchor (St. Thomas Boys' Choir), which was founded in the 13th century. In the Middle Ages, the boys sang on every occasion – city celebrations, the installation of bishops, and even executions.

Today, Thomaskirche continues as the Thomanerchor's home as well as a center of Bach tradition. Choirboys still follow an almost medieval regime within a distinctive subculture that's a world unto itself. Each newcomer is assigned a "mentor" from among the trusted older members of the choir, and all members are required to eat, sleep, study, and rehearse according to a semimonastic regimen.

You can listen to the famous boys' choir during the Motette, a service with a special emphasis on choral music, every Sunday morning and Friday evening.

Quick Facts on Thomaskirche

Site Information
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:51.339228° N, 12.372575° E
Address:Leipzig, Germany
Lodging:View hotels near Thomaskirche
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

More Information

The Thomaskirche in Leipzig: Luther and Bach were here. © Holly Hayes

Map of Thomaskirche, Leipzig

Below is a location map and aerial view of Thomaskirche. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.