When the smoke cleared from the 1945 bombings, only a fragile shell remained of Munich's largest church, which is affectionately known as Liebfrauenkirche. Workmen and architects who restored the 15th-century Gothic cathedral used whatever remains they could find in the rubble, along with modern innovations. The overall effect of the rebuilt Frauenkirche is strikingly simple, yet dignified.
The twin towers, or Liebfrauendom, which remained intact with their strange early Gothic onion domes, have been the city's landmark since they were added to the church in 1525. Instead of the typical flying buttresses, huge props on the inside support the edifice and separate the side chapels. Twenty-two simple octagonal pillars support the Gothic vaulting over the nave and chancel.
Entering the main doors at the cathedral's west end, you first notice no windows (actually, except for the tall chancel window, they're hidden by the enormous pillars). According to legend, the devil was delighted at the notion of hidden windows and stamped in glee at the stupidity of the architect -- you can still see the strange footlike mark called "the devil's step" in the entrance hall.
In the chapel directly behind the high altar is the cathedral's most interesting painting: The Protecting Cloak, a 1510 work by Jan Polack, showing the Virgin holding out her majestic robes to shelter all humankind. The collection of tiny figures beneath the cloak includes everyone from the pope to peasants.
- © Frommer's 2013
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