(active around 961 in Gernrode)

Interior view

c. 961
St. Cyriakus, Gernrode

Under the successors of Charlemagne, the Frankish Empire split into three: a western, a central and an eastern part. In the tenth century the empire was reconsolidated under the first Saxon emperor Henry and above all under Otto the Great. From the East Frankish Empire evolved the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation, and from the West Frankish Empire came France. Both parts of the empire now began to lead a life of their own, a development which was soon mirrored in their architecture. The political and artistic centres in the East Frankish Empire shifted to Saxony, the homeland of the Ottonian Emperors.

The buildings in the Ottonian domain now developed a style of their own. Around the year 1000 a distinctly new type of church was developed, the transept basilica with nave and two aisles and a square crossing separated from the nave and transept by four arches.

The former convent church of St. Cyriakus in Gernrode in the Harz is the oldest preserved large building in the Ottonian style. The nunnery was established in 961. The monastery buildings have been last and the church itself was changed in the twelfth century. Compared with the architecture of the Carolingian period, the interior of St. Cyriakus is endowed with a superiority and a greater generosity of shape and proportion. Both forms of support, the column and the pier, find much greater use, and support the arcade arches which open up the nave to the aisles. The clear division of the nave walls is emphatically not Carolingian. The Ottonian architecture no longer conceives of the nave walls as continuous rows of arcades.

The photo shows the nave looking east.

View the ground plan of the church.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.