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Basel - Muenster | by Martin M. Miles
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Basel - Muenster

The first (carolingian) church here is named "Haito Muenster", as Bishop Haito ( as well abbot of the important Reichenau Abbey) had comissioned it. It was completed around 825.

 

The foundations of these structure were reused, when the so called "Heinrich Muenster" was built just after 1000, sponsored and named after Emperor Heinrich II (Henry II) of the Ottonian dynasty. Already in 1019 this church got consecrated.

 

The Muenster seen today is the third large church, erected 1180 - 1220/30. The late romanesque church had five towers, that all got destroyed (with most vaultings) in 1356 during the worst earthquake ever recorded in Central Europe. Modern seismologists estimate a magnitude of 7.1.

 

The rebuilding of the Muenster was led by Johannes Parler, who at the same time was employed for building the Freiburg Muenster. So there are a lot of parallels between these two Muensters, only 70 kms apart.

 

About 1500 the Muenster was finally completed in a combination of late romanesque and gothic style. The restauration process started about 400 years later. Pollution caused a lot of damage and meanwhile many of the carvings outside the church have been replaced by copies. So many of the details seen on the shots may be - copies.

 

Looking east to the choir. Some art historians have compared the structure of the side walls with the CLUNY III. The interior differs surprisingly from the Freiburg Muenster.

 

The Protestant Reformation in Switzerland differed from that one in Germany, as the Swiss Reformators (Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, Johannes Oekolampad..) had a way more radical approach, than their Lutherian collegues.

 

During the 9th of February 1529 a group of about 200 people forced their way into this (at that time still catholic) church and in a kind of frenzy destroyed all reachable crucifixes, statues and altars, just everything what was connected to "idolatry" in their thinking.

 

The same afternoon the iconoclasm extended to many other churches in Basel as well. I wonder, why the the fast and furious iconoclasts did not destroy the many works, done by the stone carvers in and outside the church. Obviously only "holy" objects had to burn.

 

Here is one of the many capitals around the choir, that depict fighting knights. Here a knight in full armour fights two hairy (mythical) animals. On very first sight, I saw, that the left animal is an elephant with a very long trunk, but then I realized that the lion-like animal is just turning around, scared of the sword.

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Taken in June 2011