Sunday again, the 19th – so another strong church focus.
Another great day. You must be sick of hearing that. At around 9am the weather was forecast as sunny, 0 to 6. So we put on our warmest clothes, no umbrella as we have lost it, and set off. Even as we left it was sprinkling – or was it sleet? We spent the rest of the day trying to stay dry as it virtually didn’t stop. And we never saw the sun. But our spirits stayed dry!!
First to Marienkirche, part of the Evangelical Church of Germany. So basically Protestant. It is a Gothic church, more than 700 years old and one of the few structures from the Middle Ages in the centre of the city. Like many structures in Berlin it was affected by a devastating fire in 1380 which meant the church had to be rebuilt.
The church has an active social program with an emphasis on peace, and programs in the local community. When we visited there were lunch tables set up – we gather for the poor within the city.
The organ was built by Joachim Wagner in 1721/1722 and rebuilt in 2002 by Daniel Kern. Wagner’s organs are widespread in Europe and renowned for their range of tonal colour. The sound was magnificent. It has a very ornate organ screen – looks as if it’s gold.
The church is full of valuable art works, from all ages of the church and art. For example, The Dance of Death – a 20 metre fresco from around 1470 – inviting people from every level of society to the Dance. And another – a monument to a well known couple which is a notable example of Berlin classicism from around 1800. And another monument which is a notable example of North German mannerism in the 17th century. Other things in the church are of great interest – the pulpit of 1703, the altar of 1762, and the baptismal font of 1437. Too much to describe – it is worth a visit.
Lunch was a notable event as it was pouring so we couldn’t sit somewhere on a bench to eat our sandwiches. We took shelter on the steps of the city’s main cathedral. Cold but sheltered. We were very please no one would recognise us.
Onto a bus and the underground – only 10 minutes – and to the Markisches Museum. This museum was built to look like a church – as you can see from the feature and the photo below – but it has nothing to do with religion. The creators wanted it to be a building which worshipped architecture. It is about the transformation of the mediaeval trading village of Berlin-Colln, into today’s metropolis. Exhibits and models go through the city’s streets and many quarters from medieval times to the recent Stalinist socialist times. We found it a very good way of appreciating the city’s physical growth.
We would not see this as an important museum to visit but it was the answer for us on a cold and rainy day. It suffers from having very little English description. We were able to cope as we had been to many other museums covering similar topics. It also has a very nice café where hot chocolates warmed us up.
And back to Marienkirche at 6pm for the evening Eucharist in English. The service was run by the people of St Georges Anglican Church who share the space for services. We could hear the choir practising familiar hymns outside, a nice precursor for music. The congregation was around 40, and even included some young people. On the whole they all looked like Berlin expats, not tourists like us in big colourful bubble jackets!
It was a very good service, not all that different from our own church. The Eucharist was great with the whole 40 standing in a circle around the altar until everyone was served. Very beautiful were the flowers in front of the altar – all new Spring flowers including tulips, iris, daffodils. No doubt about the season of Easter in the Northern hemisphere.
There was a very good quartet who opened the service and sang during the Eucharist. Their voices just soared into the high ceiling. The hymns were all familiar, and we were accompanied by the marvellous organ which we described earlier. What a treat. She also played before and after, and it was beautiful.
Getting home was another matter. By the time we left, the rain had become steady and we were soaked by the time we walked from the bus. The apartment is warm so we are pretty sure it will be dry by morning – and it was. A good Spag Bol and a glass of red (Chateau Aux Fournier, Bordeaux, at Euro 3.00 – how’s that Dave?) brought us back to normal.