Lining Munich´s main shopping pedestrian zone, Kaufingerstrasse, Bürgersaal is just one of many impressive facades that one might pass without even taking particular notice of it. If you are visiting Munich for the very first time, your eyes are probably everywhere but on the street. So even the bright pinkish orange outside color may attract a glance, yet to unveil the church´s true beauty, you will have to step inside.
Built between 1709 and 1710, Bürgersaal was intentionally meant to solemnly serve as a prayer and meeting hall for the religious followers of the Marian Congregation. The building was designed by Italian architect Giovanni Antonio.
After the original congregation hall of the Order of Marians, a link of the Jesuit order, had become too small, plans for a new-built were established. Without being intended to be used as a church right from the beginning, Bürgersaal was financed solely out of funds of the Marian Congregation.
It was not before May 1778 with the consecration of the high altar in the so-called Upper Church (Bürgersaal) that people started to call her Bürgersaalkirche. In 1944, during World War II, the entire building was demolished leaving just the main facade remain unharmed.
After the war, reconstruction began. The Oberkirche (Upper church)was restored in the way it looked before the demolition, leaving out solely the imposing ceiling fresco “Assumption Day”. Apart from that, the church became once again a fine example of Bavarian Rococo in the inside.
When you enter the church on street level, you will notice the low-hanging ceilings straight away. Actually my first thought was “Where is that dang church”? The area that opens up underneath the Bürgersaal is called “Unterkirche” (Lower church). It consists of a three-transepted windowless room that is used since the late 19th century as a crypt.
Bürgersaalkirche is a great example of Bavarian church tradition and predestined to admire the history of the building and some art as well as the resting place of Rupert Mayer, a priest who defied the Nazi regime and paid for it with his life. He was beatified in 1987 by Pope Johannes Paul II.
I have included two pictures of the crypt at the end, yet the more astonishing part of the building is definitely the Oberkirche, which still resembles the original idea of a meeting hall.
And with its very prominent location in downtown Munich, a visit to Bürgersaal can even be squeezed in between shopping sprees.
Neuhauser Strasse 14, 80331 Munich