Click here to go to the main page
Susteren (L): Stiftkerk or St. Amelberga

The Romanesque church of Susteren has a long history. In the 8th century a monastery with church was founded, halfway down the road from Utrecht to Echternach. Later this monastery became a convent, and after that a worldly minster for noblewomen, a so-called Stift. The church was destroyed by fire in the 11th century, and was replaced by a new one. In the 12th century a westwork was added, similar to that of the church of the minster in Essen, Germany. Like the example in Essen, this St. Salvator's church had a closed westwork consisting of a massive-looking central tower with an octagonal spire, with lower square stair-towers on either side. Inside this westwork was a choir.
A rare feature of this church is the crypt behind the choir which is partly built above the ground. This crypt again is almost an exact copy of the one in Essen and contains the remains of Carolingian king Swentibold. The crypt and the choir are probably the oldest parts of the church. Another similarity  with Essen is the use of the so-called alternating system in the church, with pillars and columns used alternately.
Peculiar is the width of the transept, which is bigger than that of the rest of the church. Again, this is very similar to the church in Essen.
After the French occupiers closed down the stift at the end of the 18th century, the church was handed over to the parish, which had lost its church by fire just a few years before. From 1885 to 1890 the church according to plans by P.J.H. Cuypers who gave the church much of its current look. The westwork, which was in a very bad state, was changed to Cuypers' own taste, taking French Romanesque churches as examples; the stair-towers were heightened, while the originally higher central part of the westwork was not, and received a simple saddle-roof instead of a replica of the vanished spire. Because of this restoration and several others there is hardly a single stone left of the original layer on the outside. The church looks very young considering its age; restorations probably also removed most of its charm.
The church is now dedicated to St. Amelberga, the first abbess of the convent.







Back to Churches in the province of Limburg

Back to Echt-Susteren municipality