The St. Michael church in Bernkastel is the last church in the mosel region which ist in the 14th century style. Its tower is the landmark of the city. Originally the tower stood free and served as a defensive tower. Only when the city was extended the tower first was integrated into the city wall and then into the church of St. Michael.
The mighty, more than 600-year-old tower of the parish church of St Michael is one of the city's dominant structures of Bernkastel-Kues.
The church in the district of Bernkastel is not only rich in art treasures; it is also the only preserved building in 14th-century style of the Moselle region. The three-aisled church´s endowment is very rare in its abundance. The baroque facade, which was restored in 1968, contrasts strongly with the massive, more than 600-year-old tower of St Michael. The interior gives a hall-like impression, the sacristy was built in 1664 and the central point in the choir is the Calvary hill group of 1496.
The church tower
The tower made of unplastered brickwork (which only darkened over the course of time) was probably built in the late 13th century. In 1280, Trier´s then Archbishop Henry II of Finstingen acquired all property and legal rights in Bernkastel from Count Henry V of Salm. According to the chronicle of the diocese, the Archbishop did not only build a strong wall around the village of Bernkastel and fortified Landshut Castle and the settlement. After Bernkastel was vested the town privileges by King Rudolph, the Archbishop also built numerous walls, towers and parapets, probably including the present St Michael´s Tower. The tower is 56 metres high; on the upper floor the wall thickness is still 1.75 meters. The roof truss with its bells dates back to the 15th century.
History and altars
The precise founding year of the parish of Bernkastel is unknown. It can be assumed, however, that a Catholic congregation existed as early as 1017. Theoderich of Saarburg is named as the first pastor of the city. It is assumed that, at the latest in 1177, a church must have existed (in the middle of a cemetery, of which 4 basalt crosses are still preserved).
Concerning the interior of the chapel, the Sebastianusaltar - dating from the first half of the 17th century - the Marienaltar, made of alabaster stone (1750), the Nikolausaltar in the southern side aisle (1750) and the Calvary group on the high altar of St Michael´s Church - dating from the year 1496 - are particularly worth seeing.