The "Nikolaikirche" (St. Nicholas Church) has long been one of the most famous in Leipzig, and rose to national fame in 1989
with the Monday Demonstrations when it became the centre of peaceful revolt against communist rule. The church was built in about 1165, around the same time Leipzig was founded. It is named after St. Nicholas, the patron saint of merchants and wholesalers, and is situated in the very heart of the city at the intersection of two then important trade roads, the Via Regia and Via Imperii. It is built partially in the Romanesque style but was extended and enlarged in the early 16th century with a more Gothic style. In 1794 the interior was remodeled by German architect
Johann Carl Friedrich Dauthe in the neoclassical style. The church has been a Protestant seat since 1539 after the Protestant Reformation, but the Catholic Church is allowed to use it too. The church saw four of the five performances (including the premiere) of the St. John Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach on Good Friday in 1724, 1728, 1732, and 1749 as well as many of his cantatas and oratorios performed by the Thomanerchor.
The rich ornamental decoration on the ceiling, the galleries, and the pews is remarkable. The German artist Adam Friedrich Oeser created thirty paintings for the church. They are exhibited in the portico as well as in the sanctuary. The angel of peace pictured above the altar is a rarity.
Scenes from the New Testament are displayed in the sanctuary. Jesus is depicted as the teacher of mankind (south side) and miraculous
Son of God (north side) - the two fundamental images of Jesus, on which contemporaries differ then and today.
The pulpit, the baptismal font, and the altar are noble creations: the whole interior is an outstanding example of the very best of German art and craftsmanship. The four alabaster reliefs by the German sculptor Georg Felix Pfeifer from 1905 are extraordinary works of art as well as the exceptional scenes from Jesus' Way of the Cross. The late Romanesque wooden crucifix in the sanctuary is the oldest work of art in Leipzig.