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St. Michael's Church: the symbol of Hamburg

Hamburg boasts many large churches, but the St. Michael's Church rises above all others. 'Michel', as Hamburg residents affectionately refer to the church, can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. This symbol of Hamburg is 132 metres high – those who make the effort to climb to the top of the bell tower will be rewarded with a spectacular view of Hamburg and the harbour.

Whether you are sailing on Alster Lake or wandering through the streets of downtown Hamburg, you can’t miss the mint-green roof of the St. Michael's Church. It is also hard to ignore its sounds! Every day at 10:00 am and 9:00 pm, the famous trumpeter of ‘Michel’ plays a trumpet solo from the bell tower. A visit to the church is a must and there is plenty to explore. Follow the spiral staircase to admire the largest bell tower in Germany, listen to impressive organ music and discover mysterious crypts.

The 'Michel' tower
The 'Michel' tower

Hamburg

A peaceful setting on the Elbe River

St. Michael's Church is one of the most beautifully located churches in Hamburg, with a view of the harbour, the Elbe River and downtown. But this location has also been marked by misfortune as 'Michel' is the third church to be built on this location. The original 17th-century church was destroyed by a powerful lighting strike, and the second church burnt down during restoration efforts in 1906. Shortly afterwards, construction of the current church began.

When you enter the church make sure to look up: a copper image depicts Archangel Michael who watches over the gate. The Baroque church has 5 organs in various locations. Those who visit the church at noon will be treated to a 15-minute musical performance by the organ master.
 
For a sweeping panoramic view of Hamburg, climb the 453 steps to the lookout platform. The carillon is a welcome resting point halfway to the top; the largest clock in Germany features the famous Jahrtausendglocke (millennium bell). It is great to climb the tower at night to admire the thousands of twinkling lights that illuminate the city.

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Organ in St. Michael’s Church

View on the map

St. Michael's Church, Englische Planke 1, Hamburg

View over the Elbe River from ‘Michel’ church

“Famous people, including the son of composer Bach, are buried in the cathedral’s tombs”

Descend into the crypt

Those who don’t like heights may descend into the crypts below the church. From 1762 to 1817, many members of rich Hamburg families, the church community and guilds were buried in these crypts, such as famous composer Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, the son of Johann Sebastian Bach. One of the church organs can be admired against the back wall of the church.

Photo credits

  • View over the Elbe River from ‘Michel’ church: Chris Zielecki, Flickr