Church in Bern

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The Church of the Holy Ghost (Heiliggeistkirche) is a Swiss Reformed Church located in the Old City of Bern. Recognized as a Swiss heritage site of national significance, it is one of the largest Swiss Reformed churches in the country.

Historical Background

The church’s origins trace back to a chapel first mentioned in 1228, built for the Holy Ghost hospital and abbey. Initially situated about 150 meters outside the first city wall, this chapel was replaced between 1482 and 1496. Over time, the Holy Ghost Abbey declined and was secularized by reformers in 1528, leading to the expulsion of the remaining monks. The church was then repurposed as a granary before resuming religious services in 1604 for the Oberer Spital Hospital, accommodating up to 750 worshipers.

Construction and Architecture

In 1726, the second church was demolished to make way for a new, larger structure. The current Baroque-style church was completed by Niklaus Schiltknecht between 1726 and 1729. Constructed from local sandstone, it originally stood adjacent to the Christoffelturm and Christoffelturm Church until their removal in 1865 for the construction of the train station. Excavations during the church’s construction revealed Roman religious artifacts, suggesting a Roman temple once occupied the site.

Interior Features

The church’s interior features 14 sandstone columns and a free-standing pulpit in the northern nave. It can hold around 2,000 people, making it one of Switzerland’s largest Protestant churches, comparable in capacity to Saint Pierre Cathedral in Geneva. The first organ was installed in 1804 and replaced in 1933. The church’s six bells include two large bells cast in 1596 and 1728, and four smaller bells cast in 1860.

The Church of the Holy Ghost stands as a significant historical and architectural landmark in Bern, reflecting centuries of religious, social, and architectural evolution.

The Heiliggeistkirche appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Bern!

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Visiting Heiliggeistkirche

Address: Heiliggeistkirche, Spitalgasse, Bern, Switzerland
Duration: 20 minutes

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