List of Brick Romanesque buildings

Brick Romanesque (German: Backsteinromanik) is an architectural style and chronological phase of architectural history. The term described Romanesque buildings built of brick; like the subsequent Brick Gothic, it is geographically limited to Northern Germany and the Baltic region. Structures in other regions are not described as Brick Romanesque but as "Romanesque brick-built church" or similar terms.

In comparison to Brick Gothic, Brick Romanesque is a less established and less frequently used term. On the one hand, this is caused by the fact that the Baltic region was only beginning to develop its own stylistic identity during the Romanesque period, on the other by the relatively low number of surviving buildings. Many of the major Brick Gothic edifices had Brick Romanesque predecessors, remains of which are often still visible. Nearly all preserved buildings are churches. The buildings contrast with earlier stone-built churches (Fieldstone churches or Feldsteinkirchen), which were constructed of glacial erratics and rubble. Such rounded stones limit the potential size of a building; the material and technique do not permit the construction of structures larger than a village church for static reasons. Monumental constructions only became possible through the growing use and perfection of brick building.

Import of technique and style

Already in the antique Roman Empire huge brick buildings had been erected north of the Alps, but present day Denmark and present day northern Germany east of Elbe River never had been part of that empire, and west of the Elbe its rule had been too short to build more than some military camps. Even in the northern Roman provinces, the techniques of building in brick were forgotten with the decay of the empire.

But in Langobardia Major, northern Italy, there was a continuity of building in bricks from late Antiquity to early Middle Ages. In Early Lombard Romanesque style, technique and shapes, later on typical for the Baltic Sea were already completely developed. During the 12th century, Northern Germany and Denmark, at that time the major power of North Sea and Baltic Sea, imported the techniques and many elements of style from the Padan Region.[1]

St. John's Church (Sankt-Johannis-Kirche) in Oldenburg (Holstein) is considered to be the oldest brick church in Northern Europe. The first monumental churches were Ratzeburg cathedral and Lübeck Cathedral, both begun shortly after 1160 under Henry the Lion. Lübeck Cathedral was later converted into a Gothic hall church (1266 to 1335). Jerichow Abbey with its convent church of which construction started in 1148 played an influential role for the brick architecture in the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For Scandinavia, the stylistically independent Roskilde Cathedral, started in the 1170s and used as the burial church for Danish monarchs, is of special importance. A last flourish and the transition to the Gothic style is marked by the Cistercian Lehnin Abbey in the Margraviate of Brandenburg.


Place Building Main period of construction Special features Image
Kalundborg Church of Our Lady Circa 1170-1200 Central structure on Greek cross plan. Central tower and 4 side towers of nearly the same height
Ledøje Residential church Circa 1225
NyborgNyborg Castleabout 1170Mid 13th century to 1416 main residence of the Kings of Denmark
Ringsted St. Benedict Built 1163-1170 One of the earliest brick churches in Northern Europe, basilica
Roskilde Cathedral Mainly 1170-1280 UNESCO World Heritage Site, burial church of Danish monarchs
Sorø Abbey After 1161 Former Cistercian basilica


West of Weser River

Place Building Main period of construction Special features Image
Bagband (Großefehn, East Frisia)Village church (DE)
BassumCollegiate church (DE)begun in Romanesque,
completed in Gothic style,
hall church
Bingum (incorporated to Leer, East Frisia)St. Matthew's (DE)1. quarter of the 13th century
Blexen (Weser estuary)St. Hippolyte (DE)Choir in the 11./12th century begun in cubes of granite and completed in brick,
nave and tower (13th century) completely of brick
Bücken (Weser)Collegiate church (DE)Stone building of the 11th century enlarged in brick in the 13th century
Bunde (East Frisia)Reformed church (DE)about 1200begun in Romanesque style
Canum (Krummhörn)Village church (DE)2. half of the 13th century
Ditzum (Rheiderland)Village church (DE)early or mid 13th century
Dunum (Esens, East Frisia)Village church (DE)1200–1220
EmdenGroße Kirche (Large Church) (DE)about 1200Romanesque, later enlarged in Gothic style,
1943 completely destroyed by bombs, new building in 1948/49
Fedderwarden (Wilhelmshaven)St.-Stephanus-Kirche[2]about 1250Romano-Gothic, tower added in 1875
Freepsum (Krummhörn)Village church (DE)about 1260
Golzwarden (Stadland)St.-Bartholomäus-Kirche1263Northern wall mixed with fieldstone, choir newer
Hage (East Frisia)Village church (DE)1220
Heiligenfelde (Syke)MichaeliskircheEarly 13th century
Hinte (East Frisia)Bell house of the village Church (DE)13th centuryRomanesque bell house,
late Gothic nave
Holtgaste (Rheiderland)Village church (DE)1st half of 13th century
Holtrop (Großefehn, East Frisia)Village church (DE)
KirchweyheVillage church (DE)tower about 1250nave in 1906 replaced by a Gothic Revival one
Midlum (Rheiderland)Village church (DE)Early or middle 13th centurynave about 1840 very much altered
Norden (East Frisia)Ludgeri-Kirche (DE)1200–1220 or 1230–1250Western part of the nave Romanesque,
Gothic enlargement (transept and choir)
Pilsum (Krummhörn)Village church (DE)13th century
Sengwarden (Wilhelmshaven)St.-Georgs-Kircheabout 1250gothified in the 15th century
Strackholt (Großefehn, East Frisia)Village church (DE)
Suurhusen (Hinte, East Frisia)Village church (DE)nave mid 13th century, later a bit altered, (leaning) tower built about 1450, but in Romanesque style
Victorbur (Südbrookmerland, East Frisia) Village church (DE) 1st half of 13. JahrhundertAisleless church
Wiegboldsbur (Südbrookmerland, East Frisia)Village church (DE)about 1250
Bad ZwischenahnSt.-John's-CHurch (DE)
  • in the 12th century begun in filedstone, afterwards cubes of granite, then Romanesqueer brick building, then Brick Gothic
  • has an adjacent western tower and an isolated belfry

Between Weser and Elbe

Place Building Main period of construction Special features Image
Anhalt Castle (near Harzgerode)1123 and 1147Ascan hill castle, only little relics
ArendseeArendsee Abbey (DE)1184–1240, consecrated already in 1208
BeusterCollegiate church (Stiftskirche) St. Nikolaus 12th c. (choir completed in 1172)
Bremish Blockland, BremenWasserhorst parish church (DE)Tower 13th centuryRomano-Gothic, nave remodeled in 1743 to very moderate Baroque
DiesdorfDiesdorf Abbey (DE)1161–1220late Romanesque
Giesenslage near BehrendorfVillage church (DE) probably late 12th century
Königsmark[3]Village churchprobably 12th centuryoriginally a basilicano photo in WM-Commons
Wolterslage village churchTower Romanesque, nave altered to Gothic
Mandelsloh (incorporated
to Neustadt am Rübenberge)
St. Osdag Church1180basilica of brick with a tower of boulers
Mildensee (DE) (incorporated
to Dessau-Roßlau)
Pötnitz church (DE)Consecrated 1198Originally triple-aisled basilica. Side aisles demolished in the 17th century. Southernmost Brick Romanesque in Central Germany.
SalzwedelSt Laurence Church Lorenzkirche (DE)13th. c.Basilica
VerdenSt. John's (DE)Onset in the mid 12th centuryTower Romanesque, nave Gothic
WittingenSt. Steven's Church (DE)about 1250nave romanesque, tower & choir Gothic

East of Elbe River

Place Building Main period of construction Special features Image
Altenkirchen Parish Church Begun probably about 1185 Near previous Slavic cult place of the god Svantevit on Cape Arkona
Altenkrempe Basilica 1190 to 1240
Bad Segeberg St. Mary's
Bergen auf RügenSt. Mary's
Eutin St. Michael's1180s to early 13th century
Gadebusch Town Church St. Jacob and St. Dionysius Late Romanesque, begun about 1220
Jerichow Jerichow Monastery1148-1172Former Premonstratensian collegiate church,
oldest brick structure East of the Elbe River
Lehnin Lehnin Abbey Circa 1185-1235, altered up to 1260
Lübeck Cathedral 1163-1230 Romanesque nave, Gothic choir
Lübow Village church 1st half 13th century Possibly residential church of nearby Mecklenburg Castle
Melkow Village church Circa 1200
Mölln St. Nicholas Early 13th century Basilica
Neubukow Parish church Double-naved hall church
Neukloster Abbey church before 1227
Oldenburg (Holstein) St. John's Mainly built 1156-1160 Oldest brick church in Northern Europe
Ratzeburg Cathedral Mainly 1160-1220 Oldest fully preserved brick church east of Elbe
Rehna Abbey Late Romanesque Single-naved abbey church
Rieseby Village church Circa 1220/1230
SagardSt. Michael's Church (DE)1210choir replaced at about 1400 and tower added at about 1500 in Gothic style
Schaprode Village church 1st half 13th century
Schlagsdorf Village church 1st half 13th century
SchleswigSchleswig Cathedral1134 – c. 1200built of granite, tufa and brick; Gothic additions 1275-1300; tower 20th century
Schönhausen Village church Consecrated 1212
(Bad) Segeberg St. Mary's Church (DE)
Vietlübbe (near Dragun) Village church Early 13th century Latin cross plan
Wust Village church Circa 1200 Tower added in the 18th century


Place Building Main period of construction Special features Image
Inowrocław St. Mary's Church 12th and 13th century Brick towers
Kamień Pomorski Cathedral St. John after 1175 to 1250
KołbaczAbbeyBegun shortly after 1200Former Cistercian basilica
LublinLublin Castle Donjon12th centuryUpper parts in brick, lower in limestone
OliwaAbbeyAfter 1178Former Cistercian Monastery
Płock Płock Cathedral 1130-1144 Rebuilt several times
Poznań Church of St. John of Jerusalem Outside the Walls c. 1187 It was one of the first brick-built churches in Poland[4]
Sandomierz Church of St. Jacob 13th century
Strzelno Church of the Holy Trinity 12th century-1216
Rotunda of St. Prokop Brick parts 15th or 16th century Romanesque and brick, but no Romanesque brick: The Romanesque original parts, erected since before 1133, are of red granite.
Święta KatarzynaSt. Catherine's Church
Wąchock Cisterian monastery After 1179 Brick and sandstone
Wrocław St. Giles’s (św. Idziego) Churchabout 1220–1230[5]probably before the Battle of Legnica


Place Building Main period of construction Special features Image
Vinslöv Gumlösa parish church consecrated 1192 Oldest brick building in present-day Sweden (then Danish)
Linköping Cathedral 1230 onwards Took 250 years to build, so most visible parts Gothic


  • Wolf Karge: Romanische Kirchen im Ostseeraum. Rostock, Hinstorff 1996. ISBN 3-356-00689-4


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