The church St. Gertrud is with its 96 m high tower the highest building of the Stockholm old town Gamla Stan. It is usually referred to as the German Church (Tyska kyrkan), as it has been the church of the German community in Stockholm since 1571, the oldest German community abroad.
Tyska Kyrkan, the German church
The oldest parts of the church are the cellar and the northern wall, both dating back to the Middle Ages. At that time, during the heyday of the Hanseatic League, there were a large number of German merchants in Stockholm who had organised themselves into a guild. The meeting house of this St. Getruds Guild was the forerunner of today's German Church. After the reformation, however, all guilds were dissolved under King Gustav Vasa in 1544 and the property including the building fell to the Swedish crown.
Under King Gustav Vasa, Sweden not only gained its independence, but also founded its own Lutheran Protestant state church, the Church of Sweden(Svenska kyrkan
). Due to the discontinuation of the Latin mass, services were henceforth held in Swedish - and the many Germans in Stockholm also wished to celebrate services in their language.
The privilege for this was granted by King Gustav I. for the first time in the year 1558, but the first services still took place in the Storkyrka
. It was not until 1571 that the old guildhall was used for this purpose, which was initially shared with the Finnish congregation
. In 1607 the building was officially donated to the German congregation by King Carl IX.
In the years 1638-1642 the church was considerably enlarged. The architect of the reconstruction was Hans Jacob Kristler, a master builder from Strasbourg
, under whose direction Ulriksdal Castle
in the north of Stockholm was also built. The vault and the southern wall of the old guildhall were demolished and rebuilt with a two-nave interior and a vault standing on two large pillars. In addition, construction of the first church tower was begun in 1613, completed in 1647 and equipped with Sweden's first carillon in 1666.
Unfortunately, this first tower was destroyed in a fire in 1878. The present tower, designed by the Berlin architect Julius Carl Raschdorff (1823-1914), was inaugurated six years later. Raschdorff's most famous work is the Berlin Cathedral
Royal box of Hedvig Eleonora
To the left of the altar rises majestically the glazed royal box, which the Stockholm city architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder, originally from Stralsund, had built for Queen Hedvig Eleonora in 1672. Tessin was a royal architect and, as a native of Germany, a parishioner of the German Church. Queen Hedvig Eleonora, the daughter of Duke Frederick III of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf, was also from Germany and therefore attended services regularly. The monogram on top of the Lodge is that of her son Charles XI, who came of age and was crowned King in the same year.
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The Royal Lodge of Hedvig Eleonora[/caption]
Especially in the 17th century, the German Church was an important centre for church music, not least due to the work of the Düben family of organists. This dynasty was founded by the Leipzig-born organist Andreas Düben, who was organist of the German Church from 1625 and Royal Court Kapellmeister from 1640.
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The Düben organ in the German Church in Stockholm[/caption]
Tip: German church service in Stockholm
Those who are in Stockholm on a Sunday should not miss the church service at 11 o'clock. Since the congregation belongs organizationally to the Church of Sweden, the service is also conducted according to their liturgy (but in German). Visitors to Stockholm are always welcome.