Once an impressive Gothic church, St. Nikolai now serves as an anti-war memorial. You may wonder why as you approach the tower from Rödingsmarkt. The reason becomes evident as you walk around the structure where you’ll be surprised to find the nave practically non-existent: sadly, St. Nikolai was largely destroyed during WW II.
Merely skeletal window frames, desolate remnants of statues, and jagged wall fragments remain creating an eerie atmosphere that makes me want to turn back time and undo the damage.
Thanks to a group of locals who founded a society dedicated to saving St. Nikolai, visitors can stop by the crypt for Gospel concerts, readings, and exhibits. Serving as a documentation center, the exhibition hall shows photos and documentary films depicting the scope of destruction in Hamburg’s districts during the 1940s. Restored fragments of the original altar, illuminated stained-glass windows, as well as photos and drawings of St. Nikolai convey the former beauty of this church.
For a breathtaking 360º view of the city you can ride the elevator to the top of Hamburg’s highest tower. Impressions of the inner city, Speicherstadt, City Hall, the Alster, and the harbor from a bird’s-eye view will let you forget that you’re 75m above the ground. Pictures on the platform present the view people had from the same position in the 1940s.
*The tower is currently under construction but still accessible via elevator.