The Best Medieval Churches to Visit in Soest, Germany

Sankt Maria im Höhe, Soest, Germany
Sankt Maria im Höhe, Soest, Germany | © Tobias Arhelger / Shutterstock
Photo of Evelyn Smallwood
31 January 2018

In the 15th century, Soest in north-west Germany was kind of a big deal – as a trading town and member of the Hanseatic League, it was home to more than 20 churches. By the 16th century, the money had left town, but the buildings remained. Here’s our pick of the best.

St. Maria zur Wiese

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Windows at St Maria zur Wiese, Soest, Germany
Windows at St Maria zur Wiese, Soest, Germany | © Westerdam / WikiCommons
St Mary of the Meadow (as it’s known in English) has windows that will take your breath away. They are nearly floor-to-ceiling all around, which means the building is flooded with light during the day – rather unusual for a church of its age, as is the basically square floor plan. The twin towers on the front were added in the 19th century.

Paulikirche

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The first Protestant sermon was given by a Dominican monk in 1530 at Paulikirche when the building was more than 300 years old. Some 200 years after it was built, the church was converted from its original Romanesque style to the more popular Gothic – think round arches to pointy and loads of filigree decoration. These days, the church has lots of glass painting and statuary.

Alt St Thomä Kirche

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Alt St Thomä Kirche

Nicknamed Schiefe Turm (‘The Squint Tower’), the Alt St Thomä Kirche dates from 1270, making it one of the oldest in Soest. While its crooked tower is due to rot in the supporting timbers, much more interesting stories concerning its origin abound. One of the best maintains that a certain Baron von Münchhausen tied his horse to the tower on a night of great blizzard and then lay down in a tent to sleep. By morning, the snow had all melted, but the horse still hung from the tower and pulled it off balance.

Thomästraße 72, Soest, Germany

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The wonky tower at Alt St Thomä Kirche in Soest, Germany I © Wilfried Kohlhof / Shutterstock

Nikolai Kapelle

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Nikolai Kapelle

A few steps from St Patrokli, the Chapel of St Nicholas dates from the 12th century and is dedicated to the patron saint of seafarers and travellers – appropriate given Soest’s position as a trading city at the time. The building is an ususual shape – a Hanse cog instead of the more common cross. Inside, take a look at the altarpiece created 800 years ago by Master Conrad of Soest.

Domplatz, Soest, Germany

St. Maria zur Höhe

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Sankt Maria im Höhe, Soest, Germany
Sankt Maria im Höhe, Soest, Germany | © Tobias Arhelger / Shutterstock
Also called Hohenkirche, St Maria zur Höhe, with its magnificent painted ceiling and mural was also built around 1200. The Engelreigen painting reveals the church’s Byzantine influence. St Maria is the only church with a disc cross in Germany (Scheibenkreuz) and is also unusually proportioned, being wider than it is long.