The Heiliggeistkirche (Holy Spirit Church) near the train station in central Bern is considered one of the finest examples of Protestant church architecture in Switzerland. Dating from the 1720s, the church has an attractive Baroque interior with an encircling gallery. Today it is home to a thriving congregation that sponsors a number of charity and outreach programs.
History of Heiliggeistkirche
The first church to stand on this site belonged to a monastic order dedicated to the Holy Spirit (founded in 1228). The monks operated a hospital so their church became known as the Hospital Church (Spitalkirche). From 1693 to 1698, the Pietist theologian Samuel König preached here.
In 1726, the Hospital Church was torn down and replaced with the present Baroque church by Niklaus Schiltknecht. The new "Holy Spirit Church" was completed in 1729.
The Heiliggeistkirche is thus a purpose-built Reformed Protestant church, unlike many Swiss churches that have simply been taken over from their previous Catholic usage, and is considered the finest in the country. However, the new church retained the choir stalls and bell (1596) from the earlier church and can still be seen today.
In 1829-30, the poet Jeremias Gotthelf was vicar of the Heiliggeistkirche.
What to See at Heiliggeistkirche
The lovely Baroque interior includes 14 sandstone columns, a large modern organ, and a free-standing pulpit in the northern part of the nave.
The Heiliggeistkirche seats over 2,000 people at a time in its curved wooden pews, and its canopy-like oblong ceiling features tasteful Baroque pastel decoration.
Especially notable are the old choir stalls, saved from the earlier church on this site. The wooden seats are light on figurative carvings, but are decorated with interesting medieval seals and coats of arms. Some are painted in colorful hues while others are carved bas-reliefs.
Quick Facts on Heiliggeistkirche
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|46.948116° N, 7.440705° E
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- Personal visit (December 2006)
- Geschichte - Heiliggeistkirche - official website
- The Rough Guide to Switzerland 3 (July 2006), p. 243.
- Photos of Heiliggeistkirche - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Heiliggeistkirche, Bern
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