© ThisIsJulia Photography
© ThisIsJulia Photography

Mahnmal St. Nikolai

Museum and observation tower

At the ruin of the former main church St. Nikolai you can immerse yourself in the history of Hamburg. During the heavy air raids on Hamburg in the summer of 1943, St. Nikolai was largely destroyed. Today the ruin is a place of remembrance of the victims of the Second World War.

The memorial St. Nikolai with museum and observation tower is dedicated to the causes and consequences of the air war in the Second World War. During the bomb attacks of "Operation Gomorrha" in the summer of 1943, more than 34,000 people lost their lives, entire districts in eastern Hamburg were completely destroyed.

Observation tower

During the air raids on Hamburg, the then as now highest church tower of the city served the Allied bomber pilots as an orientation.  Today, a glass panorama lift takes visitors to a viewing platform 76 metres above the ground. From there, an impressive view opens up over the city centre with the Alster and the harbour with the Elbphilharmonie. Photographs taken in 1943 contrast today's view with views of the city destroyed by the bombing raids.

Permanent exhibition in the crypt

The permanent exhibition in the cellar vault first presents the eventful history of the St. Nikolai Church from its medieval origins to the present day memorial. In the main section the exhibition informs about the causes and consequences of the air war and the destruction of Hamburg during the Second World War. Photos, documents, film excerpts and testimonies from contemporary witnesses paint a varied picture of life in Hamburg during the war. Finally, the Hamburg culture of remembrance of the destruction of the bombing raids and the more than 34,000 victims is presented.


In 1993 a tower carillon with 51 chromatically tuned bells was installed in the tower of the ruin. At fixed times it plays daily small melodies by automatic, on special occasions as well as every Thursday at 12 o'clock it is played live. The carillon can be heard on the square of the former church ship.


The St. Nikolai Memorial organises a varied programme of events with lectures, special exhibitions, readings, concerts and films. Numerous Hamburg institutions are among the memorial's cooperation partners. The focus is on the historical events of National Socialism and the Second World War as well as on today's conflicts and focal points of social interaction. On important commemoration days such as 27 January and 9 November, the memorial organises commemorative events.

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