lipprose Werner Nolte über mittelalterliche Architektur und Geschichte
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Raise the door

As the entrance to a church, the door was considered of great importance during the Middle Ages. It functioned as a means of protection and separation, marked the transition from the exterior to the interior, noise to silence, the profane to the sacred. In contrast to interior doors, they were decorated with magnificent sculptures and embedded in richly sculpted portals. In addition to rare and valuable bronze doors, which had a greater chance of surviving up to today, wood was the material of choice. From the Middle Ages, only a few have been preserved.
 
 
 Pentecost01
Pentecost (right wing, below)
 
Decades ago I marveled at the earliest of these impressive works - from the eleventh century in the Church of St. Mary's in the Capitol in Cologne. At the time they were guarding the entrance at the northern side. Today, the 2.3 m high doors can be found in the southern nave - behind bars. Oak planks carry 22 carved panels of walnut depicting scenes from the life of Christ. Remains of original polychromy have been preserved.
 
 
Pentecost02Left wing below: Baptism of Christ
Above right: Massacre of the Innocents
 
Significantly older are the wooden doors in the late-antique Basilica of Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill in Rome. For these, the fifth-century artists used cedar wood. From the originally 28 panels 18 have been preserved.
 
Pentecost03 Israelites with Pillar of  Fire, Egyptians drowning in the Red Sea,
Aaron with Snakes
 
Only two doors of so many!
How many disappeared forever?
 
 
Translation: Erik Eising
 

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