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St. Catherine

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Title: St. Catherine  
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Subject: List of churches in Hamburg, Boroughs and quarters of Hamburg, List of Lutheran churches, Johann Friedrich Mayer (theologian), Hamburg Parliament
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St. Catherine

St. Catherine's Church
Hauptkiche St. Katharinen
St. Catherine's Church (spire of St. Nikolai in the background)
St. Catherine's Church, Hamburg is located in Hamburg
St. Catherine's Church, Hamburg
Shown within Hamburg, Germany
Basic information
Location Hamburg, Germany
Geographic coordinates
Affiliation Evangelical Church in Germany
Ecclesiastical or organizational status Cathedral
Architectural description
Architectural style Brick Gothic
Height (max) 115 m

St. Catherine's Church (German: St. Katharinen) is one of the five principal Lutheran churches (Hauptkirchen) of Hamburg, Germany. The base of its spire, dating from the 13th century, is the second oldest building preserved in the city, after the lighthouse on Neuwerk island. It is situated on an island near what was formerly the southern boundary of the medieval city, opposite the historic harbour area on the Elbe river. It traditionally served as the church of the seamen.


The earliest attestation to the existence of the church dates back to 1256. The main body, consisting of a triple nave, was rebuilt during the mid-15th century in the north German Brick Gothic style. In 1657 a Baroque rooftop was added to the spire, which thus reached a height of 115 meters. The church was heavily damaged in an air-raid during World War II, on 30 July 1943. It left only the outer walls and the base of the spire standing. The building was restored between 1950 and 1957.

Famous pastors have included Joachim Westphal and Philipp Nicolai.


St. Catherine's had an organ as early as the late 15th century, and by the 16th century it was considered the most important in Hamburg. This organ was replaced by a new organ built by Hans Stellwagen, rebuilt in 1670 and repaired by Johann Friederich Besser. In 1720, according to Johann Mattheson, this organ consisted of some 58 stops and approximately 88 ranks—disposed over 4 manuals and pedals—which may have made it the largest organ in the world at that time.

Among the organists who played here were Philipp Nicolai

  • Johann Heinrich Scheidemann
  • Johann Adam Reincken
  • Further reading

    • Johann Melchior Goeze: Homily of 1759 to contemplate the reconstruction of the tower of the church in 1659. Erneuertes Andenken der im Jahr 1659, den 3ten Febr. glücklich vollendeten Wiederherstellung des Thurms und der Hauptkirche zu St. Catharinen in Hamburg : welche im Jahr 1648, den 15ten
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