The Theatiner Church – a historic jewell in the City

The striking yellow of the Theatiner Church at Odeonsplatz reaches upward into the blue-white heaven of Bavaria. The facade of the Catholic Hof- and Stifts Church of the St. Kajetan Theatiner Order, known as the Theatiner Church, is among the most splendid of the city’s buildings. It was the first church in Italian late Barock style to be built north of the Alps. However, it is in the interior where the beauty of the Barock, with its restrained white decoration, is really to be seen. And it is the contrast between exterior and interior which make St. Kajetan one of the most fascinating churches in Munich.

picture source: flickr (Nigel’s Europe)

The History

The Theatiner Church was built in gratitude for the long-awaited birth of the heir to the throne Max Emanuel, when his parents Elector Ferdinand Maria and his wife Henriette Adelaide von Savoyen asked the Italian Agostino Barelli in 1662 to build the “most beautiful and precious Church”. The ground-stone was laid soon afterwards on 29 April 1663 and building was begun. Due to an argument between the architect and the constructor site manager in 1674, the facade of the Theatiner Church was left unfinished for nearly 100 years after the inauguration until after 1765, when François de Cuvilliés presented a Rococo design which his son François de Cuvilliés the Younger completed.
The Church suffered severe damage during the Second World War, and had to be rebuilt from 1946 to 1955.

The Theatiner Church is today under the care of the Dominican Order, who have had a small community within St. Kajetansince 1954.

The Interior – Totally in White

Upon entering the Church, most visitors are left surprised. Lorenzo Petri and Giovanni Viscardi worked on the interior from 1674, leaving a large part of it in a restrained and simple white. In contrast, the decoration, with its massive columns, filigree plaster work and magnificent 70 metre high cupola, is spectacular. The majestic altar is especially impressive, with its larger-than-life statues which elegantly compliment the all-round work of art, that the Theatiner Church is.

picture source: flickr (muddyclay )

The Royal Crypt

The Theatiner Church, in line with its status as a Church of the Court, has always housed a royal crypt. The Church is, together with the St. Michael Church and the Frauenkirche, one of the most important sites for graves of the Bavarian ruling house, the Wittelsbacher. Notable is the tradition of burying the hearts of the deceased Royals in the “Altöttinger Gnadenkapelle”. The Royal Crypt currently houses the remains of 49 members of the ruling family. Among them are Emperor Charles VII, King of Greece Otto I, Elector Ferdinand Maria and his wife Henriette Adelaide von Savoyen, as well as Prince Regent Leopold von Bayern.

picture source: flickr (weisserstier)

Platzl Hotel Munich – Insider Tip

When the Theatiner Church was built, there were already many buildings in the Theatinerstrasse through to the corner of Briennerstrasse. The context therefore led to the facade being very long. The facade of the Church now, in the absence of buildings which existed at the time of its construction, seems particularly splendid when seen from the open space of Odeonsplatz, whereas the filigree and nobel architecture are best appreciated from the perspective of the narrow streets towards Marienplatz. It would therefore be worth your while to spend some time during a walk in the city discovering and admiring the beauties of St. Kajetan.

Mass in the Theatiner Church

The doors of the Theatiner Church are open daily for visitors and for Mass between 6.30 to 20.00. During the Christmas Season, the programme is extended to included several special Advent Masses. You will find more information underwww.theatinerkirche.de

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