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Instawalks at St. Jacobi church in Hamburg

Europe: Heritage Lived Jacobus

Located in the middle of the city, the St. Jacobi church shares the treasures of its beliefs and its Christian tradition with its parish members, passers-by, the homeless, shoppers, pilgrims and tourists – everyone who is searching for something, or who are curious as to what lies inside the gothic church building.

More than a few are surprised by the well preserved altar, artworks and opulence of this Lutheran church. The church building itself demonstrates the pervasiveness of its Catholic beginnings, and the changes and new developments wrought by the reformation.

St. Jacobi, and its patron, St. Jacob, has always been a pilgrim’s church. It was first erected outside of the city walls, on the medieval pilgrim’s road from Lübeck to Hamburg, a road frequented by both pilgrims and merchants alike. As part of the extension of the many European pilgrim’s roads in addition to the better known routes like the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, St Jacobi is today a significant landmark between the Nordic routes and those on the European mainland.

We share our church with visitors during our services, but also through guided tours and our world famous Arp Schnitger organ with organ tours and concerts. But we don’t just share, we post as well!

This led St. Jacobi to be the first church to invite visitors to take part in an Instawalk-series in August 2017. Using hashtags including #stjabobinsta and #instakirche, the series was launched on both Instagram and Facebook. Its success has led to plans to hold it again in 2018.

The taking of photos during these church tours through the interior, around the organ, on the bell tower and in the other unknown spaces is not just permitted, but encouraged. This led us to offer exclusive photography tours in the St. Jacobi church, to allow members and visitors alike the opportunity to take pictures on their phones.

The Instawalks take between one and half and two hours, allowing church goers and casual visitors as well as German and international visitors the time to truly discover the church: of course, the main nave of the church is viewed in detail, but also the organ gallery with its Arp Schnitger organ from 1693, the pilgrimage centre, and the bell tower, are all able to be photographed. In addition, avid photographers can take pictures in the sacristy and the Minister’s chamber, the oldest, fully preserved building elements in the whole of Hamburg.

To register, simply send a message from your Instagram account to @stjacobinsta.

Hobby photographers and professionals are invited to publish their photographs straight away using the hastags #instakirche and #stjacobinsta, or to post them later. In August 2017, the Instawalk series grew to over 55 contributions that, thanks to the international nature of photographs, now provide a starting point for every visitor to the city on its cultural heritage and highlights like the St. Jacobi church.
There is a selection of the best photographs from the tours, on our Facebook page

The #instakirche project, first launched by the internet portal in December 2015, is now running across the whole of Germany. The first Instawalk in Hamburg took place in July 2016, through the St. Marien cathedral. is delighted to see it become an ecumenical project, and that St. Jacobi is the first Hamburg church to participate in these Instawalks.