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The Pilgrimage Church

Velbert, Germany
1 of 16

The Pilgrimage Church was designed by Pritzker prize winning, German architect Gottfried Bohm in 1963. It is located in Neviges, Germany and is famous for its use of concrete.


Initially, Bohm's entry for the competition met with no luck. The jury warned against 'an excess of mannerism' evident in his design. What did attract attention, however, was the fact that, diverging from the guidelines, Bohm positioned the building on the highest point of the land and deliberately highlighted the path, flanked by two-storey buildings, rising gently from the town. An intervention by the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Frings secured the building contract for Bohm.

When the church was finally consecrated in 1968 it had undergone various changes. A central building had become an elongated building in the center, and plans for a separate bell tower were scrapped. Instead of following the jury's advice to simplify his shapes, however, Bohm raised the complexity of the building to even greater dramatic levels.

"Bohm's Pilgrimage Church design gives pilgrims the feeling that they have arrived in the middle of a small town. They enter the paved 'square' through 'arcades' beneath the galleries. These border the lantern-lit square like a four-storey facade of buildings with railings and window openings that is interrupted in several places. Like in a multi-layer Baroque edifice one wanders between niches and arcades from chapel to chapel, while always being part of the large room. In Neviges the shape of the interior and the external appearance are identical. What on the inside is apparent spatial motion is on the outside mounted, irregular crystal."(Manfred Speidel)

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archibald, June 25th, 2021
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