Pilgrimage sites on the Kreuzberg hill in Bonn
The Heilige Stiege (holy steps) on the Kreuzberg hill in Bonn are not only a pilgrimage site, but also a late Baroque work of art. In all its finery, they are a reminder of the Passion of Christ
The Heilige Stiege, or holy steps, on the Kreuzberg hill in Bonn are an extensive late Baroque work of architecture, sculpture and painting. The model for the Heilige Stiege is thought to be the “Scala Sancta” in Rome, the stairs brought by the holy Helena from Jerusalem to Rome in 326, and over which Jesus is said to have walked to his Roman judge Pontius Pilate.
On the Scala Sancta, pilgrims reflect on the Passion of Christ, kneeling and praying as they ascend the 28 steps. During the Baroque period, holy steps were particularly popular in Bavaria, while in the Rhineland region, the Heilige Stiege are the only stairs of their kind.
Built in 1751
The stairs in the Bonn district of Endenich were built in 1751 by Baroque master builder Balthasar Neumann on orders from the Archbishop of Cologne and prince-elector Clemens August, and lead to the choir of the pilgrimage church on the Kreuzberg hill, which was built in 1627/28. During this time, the pilgrimage church was given its sumptuous Baroque façade and interior.
The two-storey façade of the Heilige Stiege is intended to show the house of Pontius Pilate, the Roman persecutor of Christians. On the balcony above the entrance, the famous scene from the Bible is displayed in which Pontius Pilate appears before the people with Jesus.
Inside the step structure, a triple-run staircase leads up to a Chapel of the Cross, whereby the middle stair run contains the actual holy stairs. Small brass crosses on the marble steps mark the places where Christ’s blood dripped.
The walls and ceilings are decorated with rich Baroque paintings by Johan Adam Schöpf, and show further scenes from the Passion of Christ.