Saint Sebald Church

Saint Sebald Church

Site Information

Country: Germany
State: Nürnberg, Bavaria
Location: 49° 27' 19" N - 11° 4' 35" E
Field Documentation Date(s): September 1st, 2007
Project Release Date(s): March 20th, 2008
Time Range: 1230 CE - 1957 CE
Era: Romanesque/Gothic
Culture: German
Site Authority: City of Nürnberg
Heritage Listing: Heritage protected by State
world map with location

3D historical reconstruction of the Romanesque-period Church

Site Description


The medieval church of St. Sebaldus, located at the Albrecht-Dürer-Platz in front of the old city hall, is one of the oldest and most important churches in Nürnberg. The church's name is taken from Nürnberg's patron Saint Sebaldus, a missionary and hermit who is interred therein. Priceless artworks by Gothic sculptor Veit Stoss can be found within the church, along with some of the finest stained glass windows in Germany. Saint Sebaldus church has gone through several major renovations during its nearly 800-year lifespan, and exhibits multiple styles in its architectural design, providing a perfect example of a church's architectural transformation from Romanesque into late Gothic. Its initial construction was as a late Romanesque pillar Basilica with a west and east choir; it had a three-aisled nave, a one-aisled transept and its east choir contained three apses. Gothic additions and renovations were subsequently built between the 14th and 16th centuries, including heightening of the steeples, the widening of the side aisles, building of the sanctuary, and erection of the two towers; in the 17th century, the interior was remodeled in the Baroque fashion of the time.

In 2007, the Church of Saint Sebaldus, celebrated the 50th anniversary of its reconstruction after its nearly complete destruction during World War II. In order to document the historic architecture of the church with the latest technologies, the Community of Saint Sebald in Nürnberg collaborated with the engineering firm of Christofori und Partner to conduct a laser scan and high-definition photographic survey of the church in order to accurately record its current condition. Subsequently, the Bavarian State Departement of Monuments and Sites developed a 3D digital reconstruction of the historic church. This digital reconstruction was the basis for a comparative digital remodeling, that took into account older blueprints and documentation. The new digital reconstruction represents the previous phases of the life of the church since its construction in the 1230s.

Together with Christofori und Partner, the Bavarian State Department of Monuments and Sites produced a video which was shown with great success during the anniversary exhibition "50 Years of Reconstruction Saint Sebald in Nuremberg" The church today stands as an example of the successful reconstruction of an important work of European architecture following the large-scale destruction of WWII. Moreover, it has retained its status as an important repository of medieval sacred artwork and frescoes.
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Construction on the St. Sebaldus Church began in the 1230s as a late Romanesque pillar Basilica with two choirs. The Church was completed in 1275. It had a west choir, a three-aisled nave, a one-aisled transept and an east choir with three apses. The church forms the outer shrine for the mortal remains of the patron saint of Nuremberg, Saint Sebaldus, a monastic hermit and missionary who died sometime before 1070. Accounts vary as to whether he lived in the 8th century or the 11th, but he was formally canonized in 1425. Saint Sebaldus is the oldest parish Church in Nuremberg.

In the 14th century the side aisles were broadened and the great hall choir was raised to the east (1309-1345). With the addition of the two towers in the 15th century, the church reached its present-day form. The 15th century also saw the installation of the main organ in 1440-41, constructed by Heinrich Traxdorf and played upon by such luminaries as Johann Pachelbel. Many extensions, alterations and refurbishments (including a Baroque interior remodeling in the 17th century) followed during the succeeding centuries, of which the great renovation between 1888 and 1906 was the most comprehensive.

World War II almost brought the end to the Church of St. Sebaldus . Only a ruin was left of the once so proud building following the Allied bombing campaign on Nürnberg on January 2, 1945. However, many pieces of art were saved from destruction, having been evacuated for safekeeping beforehand. The celebrated Traxdorf organ, however, did not and was destroyed along with much of the rest of the church. By 1957 the church was once again rebuilt after many years of work, and was further enhanced with the addition of a new organ, by Peter Koln, in 1975 to replace the destroyed and very much missed Traxdorf organ.
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3D historical reconstruction of the Romanesque-period Church

Project Narrative


The laser scan of Saint Sebald took place in two phases. In June 2007, a survey team of Christofori und Partner started scanning the facades of Saint Sebaldus with a Leica HDS 3000 Scanner. In January 2008 a second survey phase took place. The team scanned the interior of the church with a Leica HDS 6000 scanner. Additional panoramic photographs were taken and mapped onto the point clouds. In February 2008, all the data was registered together into a complete site facsimile dataset. With this, the analysis of the point cloud commenced in cooperation with the authorities of the church.
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Aerial perspective of the Church from the northwest, created from laser scan data



Saint Sebaldus Church has been in a constant state of reconstruction. After the WWII damage, the nearly destroyed church was reconstructed in just twelve years so it could be used again. Nevertheless, much work remained to be done. The latest task is to conduct a large scale restoration of the church's southern tower. In 2007, engineers found that the tower had dangerous cracks in the brick work from the post-war reconstruction. There was a danger that bricks could become unhinged from the structure creating a hazardous situation for both the structure and its users. The engineers immediately had the ringing of the bells in the southern tower stopped, and they began repair work. This work was finished in March 2008 and the bells have once again begun ringing.

Since the founding of the church, a special Cathedral Building Lodge serves as the home for the Community of Saint Sebaldus, which is responsible for the condition and preservation of this magnificent church. They have worked with Christofori und Partner and CyArk in making this high-definition documentation project possible.
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Area Descriptions



Facades Description:

The laser scan of the Facades was the first step in documentation of the history of the Church. All parts were scanned with Leica HDS 3000 Scanner from various locations around the perimeter.

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Interior Description:

The Interior of Saint Sebaldus Church was laser scanned in January 2008 with a Leica HDS 6000. In order to show the color information as well, high definition panoramic photographs were taken and then grafted onto the 3D point cloud data. Then the scans of the Facades and the Interior were combined into one Model.

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  1. "600 Jahre Ostchor St. Sebald - Nürnberg - 1379-1979." Neustadt a. d. Aisch 1979
  2. "Der Ostchor der Sebalduskirche"
    In: Mitteilungen des Vereins für Geschichte der Stadt Nürnberg Bd. 71. 1984, S. 23ff
  3. "Die Sebalduskirche in Nürnberg. Ihre Baugeschichte und ihre Kunstdenkmale."

    Ãœberarb. u. erg. von Th[eodor] Hampe, 1912
  4. "Ein prächtiger Band über die Sebalduskirche. Neue Einsichten in alte Werke."
    In: Nürnberger Zeitung Nr. 185 vom 13. August 2007, S. 31
  5. "Sebalduskirche Nürnberg", Kirchenführer

    Nürnberg Carl 2004
  6. Bomben auf Nürnberg. Luftangriffe 1940 - 1945
    München 1988
  7. Die Pfarrkirche St. Sebald in Nürnberg: Restaurierungsgeschichte und Geschichte des Wiederaufbaus nach 1945
    Universität Bamberg 2005
  8. Die Sebalduskirche in Nürnberg - Funktionen, Standorte und Stifter der Bilder zur Zeit der Gotik und Renaissance.

    Petersberg, Kreis Fulda: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2006, 782 Seiten, ISBN 3-86568-125-5
  9. Die Stadt Nürnberg, ein Kurzinventar
    2. Auflage, bearbeitet von Wilhelm Schwemmer
    München 1977
  10. Die Wiederherstelllung der St. Sebaldkirche in Nürnberg 1888-1905
    Nürnberg 1905

    The Official Homepage of Saint Sebald Church.
  13. Pfarrkirchenarchitektur im fränkischen Raum des 13. Jahrhunderts,
    Gerchsheim 2003
  14. St. Sebald ein Denkmal für den Frieden,
    Nürnberg 1982
  15. St. Sebald. Baubeobachtungen zu den Türmen, dem Westchor und der Krypta. In: Nürnberg, Archäologie und Kulturgeschichte. Hrsg. von B. Friedel und Claudia Frieser. Büchenbach 1999, S.136-147
  16. Wikipedia Article about Saint Sebald Church

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more     - Jörg Bierwagen
            Dipl.-Ing. (TU) Architekt

     - Erwin Christofori
            Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Beratender Ingenieur

     - Jörg Gräfensteiner
            Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Vermessung

     - Dirk Haeusleigner
            Dipl. Ing. (FH) Vermessung und Geoinformatik

     - Helmut Heinisch
     - Patrick Lenhard
            Dipl. Geologe

     - Robert Leonhard Frank
     - Martin Nadler