Thursday, August 28, 2014

A baroque masterpiece: Fulda Cathedral

Leaving the playful rococo style seen in the last post, Amalienburg, we now visit Fulda, Germany, to tour the baroque masterpiece of Fulda Cathedral. The baroque style was a direct response to the rococo and was based on more serious Romanesque architecture. The ornament is restrained with lots of 'blank space' for contrast to let the eye rest.
My Australian penpal on his most recent European adventure had little to say about the cathedral, I think in part because this restraint in comparison to the over-the-top'ness of the profuse German rococo can be somewhat underwhelming. This architectural purity of the baroque style appeals to me personally though.
The Cathedral was designed in 1700 by the German baroque architect Johann Dientzenhofer after a visit to Rome.  Dientzenhofer was clearly inspired by St Peter's Basilica, a masterpiece from the Renaissance which every great architect and artist had worked on: Bernini, Michelangelo, Maderno, and Bramante to name a few. Who wouldn't be inspired?
 As with most churches, light is everything.
I think it's interesting to note that unlike both earlier and later churches, stained glass wasn't a feature -here the light, space, and the architecture itself are left to speak.
One of the most noted features of this Cathedral is the world famous pipe organ which you can read about here if you're interested. Personally I always think of music when I imagine the baroque period so having a masterful pipe organ in this church makes sense!
It may be baroque but the rococo qualities are still seen in the sculptures.
What I love about a baroque church is that the ornament is purposeful -one knows where to look during a service and also knows what is important. Everything isn't ornamented equally, rather the pulpit and the alter are given pride of place.
I hope you enjoyed this little architectural history lesson and visit to Fulda Cathedral. I've added Fulda to my travel wish list!
As always click on the images to view larger


Bob Kerr said...

You're right, the natural light is the star of the show!

Mark Ruffner said...

Hi, Stefan,

It's interesting that the plain baroque ornamentation — in comparison to rococo — would still be high ornamentation elsewhere. Thanks for the mini-history lesson. I want to visit both styles!

Row homes and Cobblestones said...

No stained glass needed for this ornate beauty... spotlighted in gorgeous natural light. The cathedral speaks of soulfulness and peace. I would find deep appreciation in sitting in a pew taking in it's architectural in quiet thought. Yes, I totally agree with your choice of words with the alter "pride of place" your comment is brilliant.
Thank your for this post, hopefully one day I will visit it in person.
Vera said...

Love the silver leaf!!!