St. Nikolaus Church, Damuels
Discover attractions and highlights close by: the fabulous St. Nikolaus parish church of Damuels ranks among the must-sees of Vorarlberg's art history thanks to its mural paintings dating back to the late Middle Ages, its figural interiors and the secluded hillside location. Over the last years, the renowned parish church has been renovated with love to the detail.
In 1313 Damuels was settled by the Valais people. Probably a small church already existed on "Uga Alpe" or "Brandalpe". In the Middle Ages the entire area belonged to the hunting grounds of the Counts of Montfort. Rudolf of Montfort mentioned in a written document that a "church was built" in 1392. Consecrated to Saint Nikolaus, the church also features a beautiful altar consecrated to the Virgin Mary.
There are records testifying three former buildings in this place as the choir vault has inscriptions dating back to 1484. In the 2005 summer archeological findings proved that the foundations were a part of the former Romanesque church, a one-nave building. Countless other excavations also showed the close connection to today's church.
A Gothic-style choir was completed in 1481, the main nave in 1490, a new and higher tower in 1494, and in 1728-29 the vestry was added. Baroque style altars were built in 1630, showing sacral figures by Erasmus Kern (the altars consecrated to St. Sebastian and the Virgin Mary are still preserved). According to inscriptions, the main nave's wooden coffered ceiling was renewed already in 1693, while in 1733 the church was newly painted by covering the secco paintings in late Gothic style, followed by general maintenance works until 1870. Despite its exposed location on the hill's ridge, the church was damaged by humidity. Therefore the floor was elevated and covered with concrete panels.
After 1898 the three altar mensae were "renewed" by widening their front part. In 1906, the neo-Gothic high altar with a precious Coronation of Mary scene (dating to 1500) was added. Historical documents of Vienna's Imperial & Royal Commission prove that a number of "less valuable" figures and paintings were sold. Therefore some parts of a late Gothic altar can be admired in a museum in Berlin.
Especially the walls are richly decorated with paintings, the northern part of the church features the entire Passion cycle on a single wall. The triumphal arch section shows the Last Judgement and - in the upper part - the twelve apostles with Jesus Christ towering in the mandorla's center. The Last Judgement scene surely refers to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Counts of Montfort until 1807.