In my unexpected explorations of the greater Potsdam area, none have proven to be more satisfying and fascinating as the Highlandskirche am Port von Sacrow (Church of the Redeemer) on the banks of the Junfernsee (Jungfern Lake). I’ve passed the signs to this church several times in the past few months and never stopped to take a look, but this past weekend I needed to scout a location for an upcoming photo shoot, and was seeking something unique and celebratory at the same time, representative of resilience in spite of hardship.
The road towards the Highlandskirche leads through a forest and a fenced park, and the first glimpse of the church stopped me dead in my tracks. The initial traces of the church are estimated to date to the early 1600s, but the first fully constructed church was erected in 1694. This silence, solitary and stunning romanesque building looks out towards the water as if waiting for the Redeemer to return.
It was a short walk from the gate to the church, but it almost felt like a pilgrimage through a Monet paining, listening to the birds and the soft crunch of gravel beneath my sandals, with the swans along the lake elegantly passing by as co-pilgrims. By the time I reached the church I knew I had found my location, no question about it. The pillars and arches that surround the structure offer a quiet strength and serenity that few other churches in Berlin or Potsdam can offer.
I will always be a romantic at heart, and a house along the lake would the ultimate dream come true. Being able to visit a house of God along the lake, however, is a gift, a moment to relish before returning to the madness of daily life. How can you not be tempted to sit and pray amidst such beauty?
Mind you, the pastor back in 1774 was not exactly bubbling with enthusiasm about being assigned here, since it was remote and there were hardly an people to shepherd. There are still very few people in the area, and those who come here seek the silence, and leave in awe of the beauty, perhaps a little calmer, and refreshed in physical and spiritual sense.
Like many other protestant churches in Germany, the doors are locked when there is no service. So I have no photographs to share of the interior, but that didn’t bother me much. I was content to simply be there.
One thing is for sure, I look forward to returning in autumn and winter, when the fog hovers over the water.