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Theatinerkirche (München)

The Theatine Church of St. Cajetan (German: Theatinerkirche St. Kajetan) is a Catholic church in Munich, southern Germany. Built from 1663 to 1690, it was founded by Elector Ferdinand Maria and his wife, Henriette Adelaide of Savoy, as a gesture of thanks for the birth of the long-awaited heir to the Bavarian crown, Prince Max Emanuel, in 1662.

The church was built in Italian high-Baroque style, inspired by Sant'Andrea della Valle in Rome, designed by the Italian architect Agostino Barelli. His successor, Enrico Zuccalli, added two 66 meters high towers, originally not planned, and then finished the 71 meters high dome in 1690. The church is 72 meters long and 15.5 meters wide. The facade in Rococo style was completed only in 1768 by François de Cuvilliés. Its Mediterranean appearance and yellow coloring became a well known symbol for the city and had much influence on Southern German Baroque architecture.


After the crown prince and later elector Max Emanuel had been born on the 11th of July, 1662, Agostino Barelli from Bologna received the draught order. As a construction site for church and cloister the north-east corner of the cross quarter was selected directly by the town wall and Schwabinger Gate which lies opposite to the Residence. Already on the 29th of April, 1663 the laying of the foundation stone occurred. Barelli took as a model the mother's church of the Theatiner, Sant'Andrea della Valle in Rome. During the shell works it came to violent discussions between Barelli and his site manager Antonio Spinelli, even Theatiner and father confessor Henriettes which finally led to Barelli's dismissal. Agostino Barelli still completed the shell till 1674 and then left Munich. In the same year Enrico Zuccalli took over the artistic management. Main focus of his activity was the outside creation. Zuccalli determined the form of the dome and the very unconventional towers. At the same time he also co-operated in the decorative arrangement of the church interior decisively. Also in 1674 Giovanni Nicolò Perti and Antonio Viscardi as well as Abraham Leuthner began with the stucco works. The interior has a rich stucco decoration, executed by Nicolò Petri (1685–1688), Wolfgang Leutner being responsible for the stucco figures. The great black pulpit is a work of Andreas Faistenberger (1686). The altars house paintings of Caspar de Crayer, Carlo Cignani, Georg Desmarées and Joachim von Sandrart. For the altar from 1722 Balthasar Ableithner created the larger-than-life statues of four evangelists, the statues of Saint Marcus and Saint John have survived the destruction of World War II.

On the 11th of June, 1675 the church was consecrated – it was extensive at that time still in the shell state. Long discussions about the final facade creation delayed the completion; a final result was not found. Thus Zuccalli established first between 1684 and 1692 after his plans the towers, in 1688 the interior equipment was completed. From 1692 up to the completion Viscardi took over the site management. Henriette of Savoy did not experience the completion of the Theatinerkirche, as she died in 1676.

The outside facade of the Theatinerkirche still remained furthermore incomplete, because in spite of long discussions no arrangement could be achieved. Only about 100 years after the inauguration in 1765 the old François de Cuvilliés made a draft for the facade in the style of the rococo with only light changes which his son François de Cuvilliés the Younger then completed.

The cloister construction ws carried out in line with the manuscript of Zuccalli under whose management the master builder Lorenzo Perti created the buildings. Church and cloister formed a large quadrangle.

When the Schwabinger Gate was broken down in 1817 the Theatinerkirche became a major visual point with the construction of the Ludwigstrasse. The facade of the Ludwigskirche with two steeples was later constructed as balance to the Theatinerkirche, which stands diagonally opposite.


The Theatines gained a good reputation as pastors and scholars, until the late 18th Century when an increasing decline of religious discipline and the monastery finances was noticeable. Therefore Elector Max IV Joseph, later King Max I Joseph, closed monastery on 26 October 1801, i.e. before the secularization. The Theatinerkirche remained Collegiate Church, Court Church, and the convent attracted the remaining three electoral departments (ministries) a (Finance, Justice and Spiritual Affairs). Already in 1799 i.e. before dissolution of the monastery, the Department of Foreign Affairs had moved into the Theatine monastery.

During the Second World War, particularly in the years 1944/45, the church was bombed, and the west wing of the monastery was destroyed. The altarpiece of the foundation of the Theatine Church (Antonio Zanchi, 1675), a donation of the electoral couple, was also destroyed. Back in 1946 the restoration began, which was largely completed in 1955. Since 1954, the Dominicans serve at St. Cajetan. The reconstruction of the monastery was completed 1973. Since 2001 is a comprehensive overhaul in progress, in which the Theatinerkirche will also get a new sanctuary design.

Burial places

A small chapel contains the tombs of King Maximilian II (reg. 1848-1864) and his consort Queen Marie. The crypt also contains the Prince’s Tomb, where among others these members of the Wittelsbach family were buried:

External links

  • Theatinerkirche homepage (German)
  • Photo spread of the Theatine Church / St. Cajetan, Dominican monastery
  • 360° Panorama at the Theatinerkirche
  • 360° interactive Panorama of the interior of Theatinerkirche (Flash)
  • Pen and ink drawing of Theatinerkirche, München

Coordinates: 48°08′31″N 11°34′35″E / 48.14194°N 11.57639°E / 48.14194; 11.57639

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