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On our way from Füssen to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, we decided to take a short detour off Germany’s Romantic Road to visit the Wieskirche, an important pilgrimage church and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A pretty country lane led us to the small hamlet of Wies. As we walked from our car to the church, I immediately thought, “Now, this is quintessential Bavaria!”
The sun was shining down on a large meadow in front of a backdrop of mountains. The sky was so blue, the grass so green.
Horses grazed in the field while couples strolled down a quiet path lined by a wooden fence.
It was the combination of perfect weather and gorgeous scenery that had us wishing we were on a cycle tour rather than a road trip.
We lingered outside for quite a while, soaking up the sun while we basked in the beauty of Bavaria. Being surrounded by the lovely views almost made us forget about the church!
The Wieskirche- Pilgrimage Church of Wies
The Wieskirche may be located in a postcard-perfect setting, but the church itself is a masterpiece that can’t be ignored.
As one of the finest examples of works from the Rococo period of art and architecture, the Wieskirche did not fail to impress.
I was immediately struck by how bright the church is. Natural light fills the space, flooding over the colourful ceiling frescoes. The large volume of light is reflected by brilliant white walls, adding to the fresh and airy feeling of the church.
Another thing that quickly caught my eye was the curved organ loft. It was graceful and lavish, richly decorated in gold. Above it, angels float in a cloud-filled blue sky around the Door to Eternity.
The church’s centerpiece though is the High Altar. It’s framed with tall, slender columns that appear to be marble, but are actually stucco.
The altar houses the famous wooden figure of the Scourged Saviour. Tears were claimed to be seen falling from this statue in 1738, starting a mass pilgrimage to see the figure.
The increasing flood of pilgrims led to the Wieskirche being built from 1745-1754, replacing the original, smaller chapel constructed to house the statue.
Our Final Impressions of the Pilgrimage Church of Wies
Fresh and colourful, the Wieskirche was well worth a detour off the Romantic Road!
The Wieskirche felt much more joyful than other churches we have visited. Churches tend to be so dark inside, creating a serious, somber mood. The Wieskirche though was bright and vibrant, feeling more welcoming than intimidating.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I can’t get over how pretty the landscape was. The church didn’t seem out of place here. Its architecture worked harmoniously with the surrounding nature.
If we had more time, it would have been nice to bike around the area. I would have loved to follow that path through the meadow and towards to the mountains, seeing where it leads!
Interesting Facts About the Pilgrimage Church of Wies
Here are a few more interesting facts about the history and architecture of the Wieskirche.
- The Pilgrimage Church of Wies was built by celebrated Rococo architect and stuccoist Dominikus Zimmerman. He was assisted by his brother Johann Baptist, an architect and frescoist. In 1754, the year the church was finished, Dominikus Zimmerman relocated to Wies to be near his masterpiece until the end of his life.
- The vaulted roof looks like masonry but was actually made from wood. The lesser weight meant that Zimmerman could make taller and wider openings in the walls to let in more light.
- The Wieskirche became a World Heritage Site in 1983 because of its exceptional testimony of cultural and religious traditions, and for being an outstanding example of Rococo art and architecture.
- The church was restored between 1985 and 1991.
- Around 1 million visitors come to the Wieskirche every year.
Tips for Visiting The Wieskirche
- The Pilgrimage Church of Wies is located near Steingaden, in the hamlet of Wies.
- The Wieskirche is open from 8:00 am- 8:00 pm but only until 5:00 pm in the winter.
- Sightseeing is not permitted during church services. For more information on sightseeing times, visit the church’s website.
- There is no entrance fee, but donations are appreciated.
- The Feast of Christ’s Tears, the main pilgrimage event, is held on the first Sunday after June 14.
Information was updated May 2020 but can change without notice. Please confirm directly with the venue.