With a foundation stone laid in 1585, St Michael’s Church Munich certainly has some history about it.
Michaelskirche, as it is referred to in German, is of the renaissance era baroque style, and was built by William V who was the Duke of Bavaria at the time.
Constructed between the years 1583 and 1597 the church was built in homage to the Society of Jesus (the Jesuit faith).
The church itself is what could only be described as decadent, and is like an art gallery, museum, architectural wonder and place of worship all rolled into one amazing package that’s well worth a visit.
St Michael's Church History
The church’s history began back in 1556 when Albert V, Duke of Bavaria, permitted the Jesuits to found a local boy’s selective school on the site.
The school marked the first presence of the Jesuits in Munich and established the location as their base of power in Southern Germany.
Known today as the Wilhelmsgymnasium Munich, this once elective school for boys is now co-educational.
The permission for the school also established the presence of the academic church which was established soon after during the reign of Albert V’s son, also known as “the Pious”, a big supporter of the Jesuits’ Catholic Revival tenets.
Modelled on the Church of the Gesù in Rome St Michaels was planned out and built with a magnificent barrel-vaulted roof.
Behind only the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the vaulted roof is the largest globally, freely spanning. more than 20 meters.
When St. Michael Church Munich was first built, there were suspicions about the firmness and structural integrity of the vaulting; but it was actually the churches tower that collapsed around the year 1590, only just after its completion.
This came as a bad omen to William V, so he planned to build a larger church. This second part of the building continued till the church’s consecration in 1597. An Italian-Dutch architect and painter, Friedrich Sustris leveraged the undamaged nave to build a new quire room, transept and brilliant façade.
The church’s interior part represents the feat of Roman Catholicism during the catholic revival.
The deep choir room connects to the mighty nave, while its stucco decoration epitomises and tells the story of the life of Jesus.
During the Second World War, St. Michaels church suffered serious damage but it was restored from 1946 to 1948.
More recently the Stucco-work was restored between 1980 and 1983 and a full renovation took place around 10 years ago.
St Michael's Church Crypt
Who doesn’t love a creepy church cellar.
Well, the St Michaels Church Crypt is certainly one and is well worth a look to see the final resting places of some very famous names.
Eugene de Beauharnais, who was the adopted son of Napoleon (and one of his ablest commanders), and the first son of Josephine de Beauharnais (think Napoleon and Josephine), is entombed here but he certainly doesn’t lie here alone.
The crypt contains a number of Royals and Dignitaries from the powerful Wittelsbach Dynasty, including none other than King Ludwig II of Bavaria himself.
Lying at rest in St Michaels Church in Munich with these two well known historical characters, you’ll also find the tombs of the following:
- William V, Duke of Bavaria
- King Otto of Bavaria
- Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria
- Archduchess Gisela of Austria,
- Prince Leopold of Bavaria, titular King of Greece
- Charles ll August, Duke of Zweibruken
St Michael's Church Points of Interest
Aside from the crypt, there are some amazing pieces of artwork and some impressive sculptures throughout the church. The church also showcases some “ahead-of-its-time”, architectural designs.
Marvel at the intricacy of the High Altar and be amazed by the awesome demon-killing statue of the Archangel Michael.
There’s the sculpture of the Holy Angel in the nave, some awesome tilework in the vast overhead unsupported barrel-vaulted dome ceiling (2nd only in size to St Peters Basilica in Rome), and the incredible altarpiece entitled “Annunciation“.
Basically, wherever your vision leads you within St Michaels, you’ll see sculpture, art, mosaics and more!
You’ll want to check out the monument to Eugene de Beauharnais and inspect its delightful cherub carvings.
Side Note: Eugene had married, (in 1806), one of the daughters of King Maximilian Joseph of Bavaria, and in 1817 was created Duke of Lichtenberg (a Bavarian title), thus explaining why someone from Napoleons Imperial family of France, ended up here in Munich.
The Cross Monument of Flemish artist Giovanni da Bologna, located in the right transept, is worth a look as well.
And don’t forget the exterior, which is an art gallery in itself, with the bronze casts of Wittlebasch Dynasty members holding pride of place in a sort of a family tree arrangement.
St Michaels Jesuit church in Munich is the largest renaissance church on the north side of the Alps.
The building itself with its vaulted ceilings, intricate artworks and its “city of statues”, had a massive influence on southern German styled Baroque architecture and one can certainly see why after a visit to St Michaels.
St Michael's Church Location and Visiting Hours
Main entrance is via the pedestrianised mall running between Marienplatz & Karlsplatz.
Church Entrance: Free (donation)
Crypt Entrance: €2
Church Tours: €9 per person
U-Bahn: Karlsplatz U4 and U5
S-Bahn: Karlsplatz S1 to S8 (excluding s5)
Munich Tramway: Karlsplatz (Stachus)
St Michael's Church Mass Times
It definitely pays to know when the Mass times at St Michaels are scheduled.
This way you can either be there to feel part of the worshipping community, if that is your thing or avoid the mass times completely so you can check out the wonderful Michaelskirche architecture and artworks at your own pace.
The St Michaels Church official website has all the up to date and relevant Mass times on this page.
St Michael's Church Tours
Comprehensive tours of not only the St Michaels Church interior but also of the entire grounds and gardens of the Bildungswerk (educational institute) are available.
For a minimal cost you can really go in-depth here on a guided tour that showcases all that the Michaelskircke Church and Scool have to offer.
Tours last around 90 minutes and cost just €9 per person.
Full information Here.
Doing it yourself, no worries as the St Michaels Church administrators place small stands around the building with detailed information on the church and nearby areas (in German and English).
This is very helpful in ensuring that you can find all the interesting and historical parts of the church without having to constantly consult your guidebook or smartphone.
Final Thoughts on st michael München
St Michael’s Church Munich is the epitome of extravagance and Catholic devotion.
With the absence of a church tower, which is totally unique in Munich, one could almost stroll right by the facade and not even realise that the building was actually a church.
If you have more than a passing interest in religion or theological destinations, then St Michaels is also very near to other such sights like the Frauenkirche, the Asamkirche and the Bürgersaalkirche.
All of these churches can be easily combined into one daily visit on a walk around the Munich Old Town and all are within a five-minute walk of Marienplatz.
We hope you enjoyed reading about the wonderful St Michael’s Church in Munich. Have you visited the Michaelskirche yourself? What did you think of the building? Let us know in the comments below.
Have a GREAT Day!
Ich wünsche ihnen einen wunderbaren Tag