The crypt

The crypt is located directly below the St. Michael’s main church and was built by architect Ernst Georg Sonnin in order to facilitate burials inside the church. Between 1762 and 1817, wealthy families in Hamburg, members of fraternities and government offices, and those with the benefit of burial funds were able to acquire graves and were laid to rest in the crypt.


More than 2,000 people found their final resting place here, including the well-known Ernst Georg Sonnin and city Musical Directors Johann Mattheson and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. In this virtual tour, we would like to show you all the special features the crypt has to offer.

Please click on the red dots with the mouse.


Tour of the crypt


In addition to impressive graves, the crypt also houses two exhibitions. Michaelitica addresses the history of the church, from its early beginnings to the present day, whilst the second exhibition showcases tomb finds that were unearthed during renovation work between 2004 and 2008 and documented by scientists.



The altar

Located directly below the altar room of the church, the altar in the crypt is one of the most unique pieces in the collection. Smaller church and prayer services are held here.

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Created by sculptor Fritz Fleer, the retable in the crypt depicts Jesus as a boy at the temple. This scene took place when Jesus was twelve years old and is described in the Gospel of Luke (chapter 2, verses 41–52). As they did every year, Mary and Joseph travelled to Jerusalem with their son for Passover. On their return journey, they lost their son, who without their knowledge had remained at the temple. After three days, they found him sitting among the scribes, listening to them and asking them questions.

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On 9 October 2008, St. Michael’s received a new crypt organ, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.

Located in the front of the room, behind a uniquely designed wall, the organ is a Romantic instrument supplied by organ maker Johannes Strebel in 1917. Strebel was a pupil and employee of world-renowned organ makers Cavaillé-Coll, Ibach, Walcker and Steinmeyer. He started his own business in Nuremberg in 1884 and built around 170 new organs.

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Ernst Georg Sonnin is the architect responsible for St Michael’s and began construction with architect Johann Leonhard Prey. Constant differences in opinion between the two significantly hindered the construction project.

When Prey died in 1757, Sonnin continued construction on his own. He deserves full credit for construction of the tower, which began 15 years after consecration of the church and was completed in 1786. In constructing St Michael’s, Sonnin distinguished himself primarily through his money-saving inventions and technical building equipment. For example, he designed a special cantilever windlass for moving materials used in the construction of the tower, which made scaffolding unnecessary.

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Coffin cart

Well-preserved coffin carts can still be found in the crypt today. In the days when people were still buried in the crypt, the carts were used to transport the coffins.

Bach's grave

The grave belonging to Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, son of Johann Sebastian Bach, is probably the best-known in the crypt.

Following the death of Georg Philipp Telemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach assumed the position of Musical Director in Hamburg, writing church and choral music, piano concerts, sonatas, orchestra symphonies, organ sonatas and concerts for flute, oboe and cello.

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Grave find exhibition

In 2004, some of the graves were opened and documented by scientists. In the process, they found some less well-preserved coffins and several intact coffins containing skeletal remains and well-preserved garments and textile upholstery. In the 18th and 19th centuries, wealthy families in Hamburg, fraternities, government offices and those with the benefit of burial funds acquired graves here. The burial objects and coffin decorations found during excavation are exceptionally beautiful.

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Michaelitica exhibition

This exhibition in the crypt addresses the history of St. Michael's. From the laying of the first foundation stone to the present day, the exhibition uses a variety of exhibits to document the development of the church, which was destroyed and rebuilt multiple times.


Bank account for donations

Hauptkirche St. Michaelis
IBAN: DE49 2005 0550 1226 1252 25
Bank: Hamburger Sparkasse


Hauptkirche St. Michaelis zu Hamburg
Englische Planke 1
20459 Hamburg
Tel.: +49 (0)40 376 780
Fax: +49 (0)40 3767 8310
Email: infost-michaelisde

Opening Times

November to April
Daily from 10.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.

May to October
Daily from 9.00 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.