It was probably founded at the beginning of the 11th century, but it was first documented in 1195 as a "market church". In around 1310/20, the construction of a triple naved, Gothic basilica was begun. With the construction of a second southern nave around 1418, the essential extension works had been completed.
A second tower completed in 1516 was even higher than the cathedral, and it set the standard for all later church tower constructions in Hamburg. In 1842 the church suffered from the Great Fire; luckily, most of the works of art could be saved. The medieval structure was re-dedicated as early as 1849, but with many alterations to the church building.