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Kreuzgruppe Kalvarienberg

Calvary at the south portal of the cathedral
Foto: ©


One almost gets the impression that time has stood still here! Standing in front of the south portal, the main entrance of the cathedral, you will notice numerous architectural and artistic features. The architecture of the main doorway is lavishly decorated with arches, corbels, crockets and finials. Christ bestowing his blessing stands at the central pillar. He is accompanied by apostles mounted in niches. [Pause] However, the virtually life-sized groups of stone statues are particularly fascinating for visitors. They represent scenes from the life and death of Jesus Christ. Particularly noteworthy is the crucifixion of Jesus in the centre flanked by two criminals, referred to in the Bible as thieves. You can distinguish between the "good" and the "bad" thief, if you look above their heads to see who is carrying off their souls portrayed as little children. Other scenes portray the onlookers mocking Jesus on the left, the laying of Jesus in a tomb to the right, followed by the resurrection of Jesus from the grave watched in utter disbelief by the soldiers lying on the ground. Canon Gerhard Berendonck was the sponsor of the groups of sculptures. He appears in each scene as a figurine with folded hands. The sculptor of these extraordinary scenes is no longer known today, but without doubt, he was one of the greatest artists of his day. [Pause] The wealth of historical furnishings that can still be found today in the Xanten Cathedral is really overwhelming. These include 17 historical altars, numerous tapestries, candelabras, partly illuminated sculptures and finally the furniture, such as the mediaeval choir stalls. Precious church utensils, which were once used during religious services, have found their way to the Monastery Museum. Here, they can be inspected “within touching distance”. Here also, a computer animation covers in minutes more than 300 years of architectural history of the Gothic cathedral Text/Fotos: ©