She is one of Munich´s oldest churches around and definitely one of the most pompous ones: Heilig-Geist. Located right at the outskirt of the city´s public downtown market Viktualienmarkt, her founding dates back to as early as 1208.
Back then, it was rather a small Romanesque chapel that belonged to the Heilig-Geist (Holy Spirit) hospital which stood right outside the village´s main city wall. At that time, the chapel was known and called Katharinenkirche, Catherine´s church.
It was in 1271 as the hospital and the adjacent chapel were promoted to be Munich´s third parish, making Katherinenkirche an official parish church. She and the entire parish were destroyed though during a large fire in 1327.
This large fire was caused by a piece of smoldering coal that fell out of a heating oven. As most houses and buildings in Munich were made of wood and thatched roofs at that time, it was no wonder that the small flame quickly evolved into a huge fire storm that lasted for two entire days.
Unfortunately, the building next to the fire´s origin belonged to a chandler. The stock of wax and tow caused the fire to spread quickly. Almost one-third of the entire city, including the parish and another old church, St. Peter, were destroyed before the people could finally extinguish the flames.
It took almost 70 years until the chapel and the hospital were reconstructed as a typical gothic Bavarian hall church (meaning without a bell tower) with one nave and two transepts. She opened to the public in 1392. From this time on, the old Katharinenkirche was solely referred to as Heilig-Geist Kirche, Church of the Holy Spirit.
Between 1724 and 1730, the Asam Brothers baroquinated the interiors. After the secularization in 1806, the adjacent hospital was demolished to make room for the new public market that was soon to be known as the Viktualienmarkt. This is until today one of the most popular sites in Munich.
Between 1885 and 1888, the nave was expanded by Franz Löwel and finally received its bell tower which was designed to resemble the exteriors of the vanished hospital that once stood next to it.
In 1907, Heilig-Geist received her first major renovation and a vestibule was added to the Southern entrance. Like many buildings in Munich, Heilig-Geist suffered severe damage during World War II leaving only the outer walls, but her reconstruction began already in 1946.
The extremely opulent high altar was consecrated in 1955 and by 1958 the bell tower was completed by a copy of its precedent baroque styled dome. While the reconstruction of the exteriors are done by now, the work in the inside have still not come to an end.
Since 1973, specialists are trying to restore the extremely detailed and most gorgeous frescoes that have back then been installed by the Asam Brothers. This work is still going on these days which you can witness specifically on the ceiling of the main nave.
Heilig-Geist is absolutely one of the highlight churches to visit in Munich and a great place if you are seeking a little peace and quiet in between your sightseeing tour through the city.