SONNIN, Ernst Georg
(b. 1713, Quitzow, d. 1794, Hamburg)

Exterior view

Sankt Michaelis, Hamburg

St. Michael's Church is one of Hamburg's five Lutheran main churches and the most famous church in the city. St. Michael's is a landmark of the city and it is considered to be one of the finest Hanseatic Protestant Baroque churches. The church was purposely built Protestant unlike many other Hamburg churches which were originally built by Roman Catholics and were converted to Protestantism during the Reformation. It is dedicated to the Archangel Michael.

The reconstruction of St. Michael's, which had succumbed to fire in 1750, was the main work and masterpiece of Ernst Georg Sonnin. In 1750 he, and the Thuringian-born Johann Leonard Prey (1700-1757) submitted proposals for the reconstruction of the church. The foundation stone was laid a year later, and the finishing ceremony was carried out in December 1757, although with a tower base barely covered over. It was only twenty years later that funds were made available for the construction of the tower.

It was the tower where Sonnin displayed his genius as a technician and structural engineer - he actually had the tower erected without scaffolding, to the immense astonishment of the public. This structure, which soon became a symbol of Hanseatic Hamburg, was finally opened with great solemnity in 1786.