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Church of the Redeemer

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Background on the Church of the Redeemer


The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer was the second Protestant church constructed inside Jerusalem's Old City walls (the first being Christ Church). The church was constructed between 1893 and 1898 in the heart of the Old City's Christian Quarter on land gifted by Sultan Abdulaziz of the Ottoman Empire to Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany.



The location had previously been home to the Church of St. Mary's la Latine and an adjoining hospice, which served Christian pilgrims in medieval times. When Jerusalem was reconquered by the Muslims in 1187, the compound became a Muslim hospital, but later fell into disrepair. In the mid-1800s, European Christian interest in Jerusalem was revived, and the Ottoman Empire at the time welcomed the renewed influx of pilgrims and facilitated the establishment of churches and hospices to serve the visitors.



Wilhelm I's son, Kaiser Wilhelm II, visited Jerusalem in 1898 to officially dedicate the completed Church of the Redeemer. Wilhelm II and his wife, Augusta Victoria, were the first Western rulers to visit Jerusalem since the time of the Crusades. At the ceremony, the German emperor declared:



"From Jerusalem came the light in splendor from which the German nations became great and glorious; and what the Germanic peoples have become, they became under the banner of the cross, the emblem of self-sacrificing charity."



The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer today is operated by the Evangelical Jerusalem Foundation, a member of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) federation of churches. Weekly services are held in Arabic, German, Danish and English.



Architecture of the Church of the Redeemer


The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer was built by architect Paul Ferdinand, who was greatly influenced by the great German builder of churches Friedrich Adler. The church was constructed in the neo-Romanesque style popular at the time, and preserves the outline of the Church of St. Mary le Latine.



Portions of the Church of St. Mary le Latine were incorporated into the Church of the Redeemer, including the north porch with its decorative engraving of the Zodiac and parts of the cloister.


Most prominent among the features of the Church of the Redeemer is a tall bell tower that visitors can ascend for a stunning view of Jerusalem's Old City.



Visiting the Church of the Redeemer


The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer is located on Muristan Road in the heart of the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. It is just a stone's throw from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and its distinctive bell tower should be visible from most parts of the Old City.



Visiting hours are Monday to Saturday from 9 AM to 1 PM and again from 1:30 PM to 5 PM. The church is closed to visitors on Sunday to allow local congregations to hold their services without interruption.



Admission to the church compound is free, but there is a fee to climb the bell tower.



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