Of the hundreds of churches in Bavaria, the fame of one surpasses all other- the Church of Christ Scourged, commonly called The Wies Church. It was built in the amazingly short period of eight years, between 1746 and 1754, and therefore is one of the purest examples of the Rococo style in Germany. This pilgrimage church, hidden behind dark forest and beautifully adapted to the natural surroundings, was built by the brothers Dominikus and John Baptist Zimmermann. It was built on the order of the abbot of a nearby monastery, steingaden, to house a miraculous statue. For 200 years, pilgrims have been making the trip to Wies Church to view the statur.
The Wies Church provides a lesson in Rococo design. The straight architectural lines of past centuries here give way to the gentle curves and elaborate decoration popular during the 17th and 18th centuries. Even groundplans followed this tendency: rectangular interiors were replaced by oval construction, though columns remained to mark the passages of the ambulatory. Despite the particular richness of colors and stucco work, the interior of Wies Church does not appear overdone. In the nave, the four Church Fathers – Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome and Gregory – represent the Latin Church.
The reddish side altars are made of false marble: colored stucco layers, after being attached to wooden frames and columns, were polished repeatedly until the intended effect of polished marble was finally achieved. The Rococo architects often created such illusions; the church is decorated with the false marble altars, false relief paintings and a false dome-shaped ceiling.
Ornamentation was no longer applied to and object, the object itself became an ornament; for example, the altars and pulpit. Thus, the architectural forms appear disguised.
The ceiling is decorated to represent the heavenly spheres on Judgment Day: Christ resting atop the rainbow, his empty throne and the closed Gate to Paradise. A rather uncouth statue representing Christ Scourged stands on the bay on the mail altar. It was assembled from wooden parts by monks. It is said that real tears once were seen running down the cheeks of this figure, which is the spiritual center and focal point of the choir. The choir has an unparalleled decoration of columns, balustrades, statues, gilded stuccoes and frescoes. The overall impression is one of unity and perfect harmony achieved by a careful adaptation of the decoration to the architecture.