The Gothic Revival Church of St. Nicholas was formerly one of the five Lutheran Hauptkirchen (main churches) in the city of Hamburg
. It is now in ruins, serving as a memorial and an important architectural landmark. When Hamburg residents mention the Nikolaikirche, it is generally to this church that they are referring, and not the new Hauptkirche of St. Nicholas, which is located in the Harvestehude district.
The church was the tallest building in the World
from 1874 to 1876 and is still the second-tallest building in Hamburg.
The current condition of the Church of St. Nicholas is the result of air raids during World War II (see Bombing of Hamburg in World War II), continuing demolition in 1951 and restoration work in the 1990s. The Rettet die Nikolaikirche e.V. (Rescue the Church of St. Nicholas) foundation is responsible for the restoration of the church.
The foundation is supported in its work by the city of Hamburg, the congregation of the Church of St. Nicholas and various corporate sponsors and private contributors. The organization is charged with maintaining the building's existing structure, restoration, arranging events and displays in the church, and operating an information center housed in the church's crypt.
With the founding of the Nikolai settlement and a harbor on the Alster in the 12th century, a chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas, patron saint of sailors, was erected. This wood building was the second church in Hamburg, after