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St. Michael's Church (German: Hauptkirche Sankt Michaelis, colloquially called Michel, German pronunciation: [ˈmɪçəl]), is one of Hamburg's five Lutheran main churches (Hauptkirchen) and the most famous church in the city. St. Michaelis is a landmark of the city. It is dedicated to the Archangel Michael. A large bronze statue, standing above the portal of the church shows the archangel conquering the devil.
The 132-metre high Baroque spire totally covered with copper is a prominent feature of Hamburg’s skyline and has always been a landfall mark for ships sailing up the river Elbe.
St. Michael's Victory over the Devil, sculpture above the main entrance
The present church building is the third one at this site. The first one was built from 1647 to 1669. It became the church of the new town (Neustadt), which was created in 1625 inside the new city walls, and which grew steadily since. In 1687, the Michel became the fifth chapter church (Hauptkirche), as the new town (Neustadt) became a parish. That church was destroyed on March 10, 1750, by a lightning strike. The original church has been replicated and built in 9 different cities around the world.
In 1786, a new construction following the design of Johann Leonhard Prey and Ernst Georg Sonnin (de) was completed. This is the church as we know it today. It was reconstructed twice in the 20th century: after catching fire in 1906 during construction work and after the bombings of 1944 and 1945. Since 1983, renovation is ongoing: first the spire and then the roof.
Offering 2,500 seats, the Michel is the largest church in Hamburg. The spire, which offers an excellent view over the city and the harbour, can be climbed, but there also is a lift.