Discover History: Nikolaitor - Falkeplatz
The gate at the west of the city got its name from the old 14th-century Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas‘ church) on the Niklasberg hill. The impressive neogothic reconstruction of 1885 was destroyed in 1945.
In the early 17th century, the growing suburb of Nikolai in front of the Nikolaitor comprised as many as 55 houses. The important Nikolai mill was also located there. The city’s biggest grain mill, this was in operation from the 15th century to the early 20th century. Merchants who travelled to the city by road from Franconia and Vogtland had to pass through this entrance to enter the bustling Lange Gasse. The importance of this gate is also underlined by the fact that the city council stables were located there.
Architecturally, it was inspired by the Chemnitzer Tor gateand is thought to have been built at around the same time, in the first half of the 16th century. Only the ridge turret resembles contemporary depictions of a baroque roof. This was built when the roof burnt down after being struck by lightning, and had to be reconstructed along with the bell tower the following year. Like the Johannistor gate, the Nikolaitor gate featured a large clock.
Having fallen to the Swedes in 1632 during the Thirty Years’ War, the city was conquered by the Swedes once more seven years later. The city walls collapsed all the way down the Pforte under bombardment from the imperial league on 8 August 1643. The stone bridge at the Nikolaitor gate was then also severed.
In 1833, the gate and the conduit master’s residence were sold to Zinn, a merchant. He demolished both structures and built a three-storey residence along Lange Gasse. Meanwhile, plans to construct a playhouse on the city’s filled-in moat were scrapped; the building was later erected by the former Klostertor.
The Nikolai suburb developed into a popular industrial district. By 1893, self-made man Carl Bruno Falke had built the Ebert’sche glove and stocking factory, situated between the Chemnitz river and the Nikolai mill canal, and developed it into a successful business. When the independent businessman passed away in Singapore in 1907 whilst travelling the world, he bequeathed his fortune of 1.3 million marks to charitable causes his home town. The square at the former Nikolaitor gate was renamed to Falkeplatz in his honour, and his residence and the factory building became a community centre administered by the city.
After the culvert over the Chemnitz river was completed in 1914, Falkeplatz developed into a densely occupied urban hub opposite the Lange Straße junction.
In 1918, Deutsche Bank decided to construct an imposing new building in Chemnitz. Construction eventually began in 1922 on a plot next to Falkeplatz, but was discontinued in 1925 due to hyperinflation. After consideration by Chemnitz city council of the arguments for and against the construction of a 12-storey skyscraper, including air quality, noise levels and the view from the upper floors, Erich Basarke took over the planning of the now five-storey building. The façade followed the gentle curve of Falkeplatz and was built from light-coloured shell limestone.
After the Second World War, all that remained of the vibrant Nikolai suburb was the Deutsche Bank building, the former Sparkasse bank building (now the Gunzenhauser Museum) and the Metropol cinema.