Exterior architecture

From 1173 onwards Brunswick castle was being built in order of Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria. It's westconstruction is built in the tradition of the so - called sächsischer Westriegel (Saxony west belt). It's the same with the collegiate church (Stiftskirche) in nearby Königslutter that was being built from 1135 onwards by the Emperor Lothar II. This compact design of the westconstruction is just made to express in architecture the power of a ruler. The cathedral 's south front is not as quiet as it's counterpart in the north. A 19th century baptistry joins the transept in the north.

The east part of the cathedral is the side that is the less changed. Here we find purest Romanesque architecture as there is the going together of rooms. Characterized by geometric bodies and sober surfaces bordered by pilaster strips, round arch friezes broken by windows. The cathedral's north face except the trifoil window in early Gothic style in the nave's clerestorey and the cautiously fitted late Gothic wall of the side aisle has a Romanesque aspect,too. It is remarkable that the westside pair of windows is higher and that there are pilaster strips between the windows, too, whereas in Romanesque architecture this usually was just a method to emphasize the bay border.

At the beginning of the 13th century the trifoil window was fitted into the east bay. From outside the ornamental window marks the place where Henry the Lion and his wife Matilda are buried. At the north side of the transcept we find the legendary « Lion's portal », it is the only portal remaining from Romanesque architecture. The deep scratches in its sidewall are a good reason for any legend. The lion, a good compagnon of the Guelf Duke, is said to have scratched with its paws, because it didn't want to leave the duke alone in his death. One may also think of the whetting of the knights' swords before they go to war. The most probable nevertheles seems the middle age custom of the « Standauskratzen » for curing reasons. The north portal at he side of the « Burgplatz » with the year 1496 served as main entry to the side aisle in the Romanesque period already. It is bordered by a keel arch decorated with crabs and ends in a stone finial. It fits between the two narrow window tracks which crown the portal.

The inner church

Coming from the Burgplatz the visitor first reaches the north aisle. It was built in the 15th century and gives an idea of how the building progressed from east to west. While there are still simple ribbed vaults in the east you find more complicated reticular vaults in the west aisle. The columms as well are different: the most west is itself twisted, while the others just feign the curves by rods fitted. Tudor arches of the windows and decorations on the colums show parellels to English architectural styles. May be that English architects from the country of Henry's wife Matilda passed on their knowledge. The south aisle except the annex has preserved its original aspect and is covered by a plain finial. Every two bays the groined vault is separated by thick leaf ribs. The vaults base rest on the pillars' abutements . The ailse's annexe which date from the 14th century is covered by a groined vault that shows a Gothic tracery with tri - and quatrefoils.

The union of each two bays points to the ground plan scheme a « set» system. It was often used in Romanesque time for vaulted church buildings assigning two aisle bays to one nave bay, so to assign rooms and to connect them with each other. This system becomes still clearer in the nave where every second pair of pillars is accentuated with squared entablatures which in the upper area carry the column's plinth. Because there are no belts dividing the bays as it can be found in the south aisle the nave has a more integrating effect, a room oriented to the presbytery as its liturgical centre. This four bay basilica besides transcept and presbytery has a vaulted nave. This was intended from the beginning of the construction on and so made the cathedral one of the earliest large buildings with complete vaults in Lower Saxony.

links

pictures of the cathedral


seen from the city centre
seen from the city centre

north aisle
north aisle

south aisle
south aisle

nave
nave