St. Kilian´s Church

The gothic Kilian´s Church is situated exactly in the centre of the of Korbach´s old town. It was named after the Saint Kilian, an Irish missionary of the Frankish empire and first bishop of Würzburg (7th century). For a short time Korbach belonged to the bishopric of Würzburg. Before the "Kilians Kirche" was constructed, there was a smaller Romanesque church at this place.

St. Kilianskirche

The construction of the Kilian´s Church began in 1335, inauguration was in 1450. First the presbytery was built, then the tower and later the nave. In for-mer times the Kilian´s Church was a catholic house of God, recognizable due to the great number of statues of the Virgin Mary. Today a combination of catholic and evangelical influences is recognizable.


In former times Korbach´s old town market was in front of the south portal. That is why the south portal is so pompously adorned. In the middle you can see Jesus Christ and the Last Judgement, also his disciples, top left and right there are head-high statues, discernible on the left Saint Kilian holding a model of the church in his hand. The south portal was probably built about 1420. Unfortunately, the sculptor is unknown.

St. Kilianskirche

Another sight worth seeing is the tomb of Johan von Wolmerckhusen. In the front area of the Kilian´s Church there are also statues of the Three Wise Men and a gothic statue of the Virgin Mary. They were created around 1420/30. Unfortunately, the artist is unknown, too. It was presumably the same sculptor who created the sculpture of the deacon in the front presbytery.

Saint Kilian, alcove at the south portal of the Kilian´s Church


As a central point of the front presbytery, there is a pompous altar rich in figures and colours. It was fabricated in 1527 by a Franciscan monk from Korbach. The altar represents Jesus´ suffering. In the back part his disciples are personated. Count Phillip III. von Waldeck and his spouse Anna von Cleve who donated the altarpiece are imaged on their knees underneath the cross.St. Kilianskirche

Another sight for sore eyes is the "Sakramentshäuschen" next to the altar. Made of limestone, it is about 15 metres high. It was built by Bernd and Johan Bunekeman from Münster.

The flashiest feature of the Kilian´s Church probably is its 75 metres high tower. Until 1685 it wore a gothic casque and was originally higher. After several lightning strikes a decision on a flatter shape was made, the "Welsche Haube". However, in 1713 the tower burnt out again, the "Welsche Haube" was restored. At certain times the tower is opened for visitors. It reveals a magnificent and spectacular view over the whole city. Don´t miss it!

© Sarah Herrmann/ M. Möller

The laughing and the crying manikin

The Kilian´s Church is the landmark of the Hanseatic City of Korbach. It was built between 1335 and 1450. Of course some will ask why it took almost 115 years to construct it. It was because Korbach did not have enough money as they were building the Nikolai Church at the same time (1359 - 1450).


You can still see it today. Where the quire meets the nave, different construction phases are recognizable. One stage of construction shows pale stones, the other darker ones. The figures at the outside eaves between quire and nave also express this time delay. In the vernacular they are called "Lache- und Heulemännchen".

When Korbach ran out of money during the con-struction of the Kilian´s Church, a crying manikin drying his eyes was affixed as a sign of grief. Later when there was money again, a laughing manikin was attached.


All around the Kilian´s Church there are a lot of strange mythical creatures that surely in former times surely terrified some people. Before the invention of spouts the water ran down through the mouths of the mythical creatures, as far away as possible from the wall, in order to keep the bricking and the timber beams dry. The frightening aspect was intentional as its function was to keep away evil from the church. Looking more closely you discover animals, monsters, a monk, a nun or a devil carrying away a condemned undressed woman.


A beautiful tradition is the so-called "Christkindwiegen" on the tower of the Kilian´s Church, celebrated every year on the 24th of December. It was documented first in 1543. Young blokes and men climb the tower, singing and swinging paper lanterns.

There is legend told that in ancient times Korbach was struck by a terrible epidemic of which many people died. As the hospital was overfilled, patients also were accommodated in the Kilian´s Church. All the sick and ailing people made it impossible to celebrate the church service. When Christmas was around the corner, they pondered over how to honour the Christ Child and how to make him a bed (a cradle), now that help from above was required more than ever. A young man had an illumination: they could not hold the holy mass in the church, yet they could honour the Christ Child on the tower. So on Christmas evening young blokes and men climbed the tower swinging lanterns and torches up and down as if rocking a cradle, praising the Lord with their singing.

It is said that after this Christmas evening nobody else in Korbach fell ill or died. From now on it was promised to hold a cradle celebration on the church tower every year. It is not documented how and when exactly this custom came into existence. However, rocking the Christ Child´s cradle in ancient times was a common custom in many churches (for example in Bad Wildungen). It remains the same until today.

© Nina Juppe/ M. Möller


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