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Posts from the ‘Martin Luther’ category

Mansfeld: Martin Luther’s childhood home

Above: View of the town from Mansfeld Castle; numbered labels are described below.

I approach the ledge, and what appears is a typical yet modest German town: red roofs, a church steeple, green pastures, and endless hills rolling to the horizon. But this is no typical town. Five centuries ago, a young lad grew up in this town and ran through these streets. Though the area was dominated by mining activity, Dad was grooming the boy to become a lawyer, but the latter would make a life-changing decision. How was the boy to know his decision and subsequent work would eventually change religion, governance, literature, and culture in Europe.

Mansfeld is a town of about 9000 people in the southwest corner of the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt. The town is dominated by the Mansfeld Castle situated on a rock spur above town. With origins to regional nobles, first mention of the town in official documents occurred in the late-10th century, erection of the castle’s foundations began in the 11th-century, and full charter rights of a city were granted to Mansfeld in the early 15th-century.

In 1484 one year after he was born and baptized in Eisleben, Martin Luder’s parents, Hans and Margarethe (née Lindemann), moved the family to Mansfeld, 10 kilometres to the northwest of Eisleben. Hans Luder earned good wages in a region rich with mineral ore and covered with mines. Hans first worked in the quarries, and worked up to managing smelting furnaces, and eventually, to owning individual mine shafts and smelters. Martin wandered these streets until he was 13 years of age when he departed in 1497 for further education. His parents stayed in Mansfeld for the rest of their lives, whereas Martin moved to Magdeburg, Eisenach, Erfurt, and settling in Wittenberg.

The town’s highlights include:

  1. Luther (Luder)1 parents house
  2. Museum Luthers Elternhaus (Luther’s parents house museum)
  3. Tourist-Information Mansfeld
  4. Stadtkirche St. Georg (St. George Town Church)
  5. Lutherbrunnen (Luther memorial fountain)
  6. Schloss Mansfeld (Mansfeld Castle), where I made the picture above.

Although Martin Luther spent much of his working life in Wittenberg, he always had a special fondness for the town where he was raised. He once wrote of Mansfeld:

“Ich bin ein Landeskind aus der Herrschaft Mansfeld, das verpflichtet ist, sein Vaterland und seine Landesherren zu lieben.” (I am born under Mansfeld’s jurisdiction which compels me to love my homeland and their rulers.)

2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Manssfeld, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Published in the Topographia Superioris Saxoniae (1650, part of Topographia Germaniae), Wikimedia

1650 copy of copper engraving of Manßfeldt (Mansfeld), in “Topographia Superioris Saxoniae, Thüringiae, Misniae et Lusatiae”, part of “Topographia Germaniae”, by Matthäus Merian (Wikimedia). The St. George town church is seen at lower-left, but the castle dominates the scene at right.


1,2. Museum Luthers Elternhaus (Museum of Luther’s Parents House)

Martin Luther’s parents lived in a modest house and spent his childhood years walking through these streets. Across the street from his parents’ house, the town unveiled in 2014 the Museum Luthers Elternhaus, a museum dedicated to Martin’s parents, their family life, and how the people of Mansfeld lived in the late 15th- to early 16th-century. Martin’s father, Hans, worked his way up from coal miner (hewer) to becoming part owner in a number of local mining operations. He became a citizen of Mansfeld (acquiring full rights) with his name mentioned as a “town deputy” in an official document in 1491. The recent archaeological dig at the house and subsequent finds show that the Luther family had status in local society and they lived and ate reasonably well.

Luther's parents house, Mansfelder Land, Luther Country, Mansfeld Südharz, Mansfeld Lutherstadt, Mansfeld, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Luther’s parents house

Museum Luthers Elternhaus, Luther's Parents House Museum, Mansfelder Land, Luther Country, Mansfeld Südharz, Mansfeld Lutherstadt, Mansfeld, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Across from the house on the other side of the street is the Museum Luthers Elternhaus


3. Touristinformation (TI), Luther’s 1st School

The building here is a reconstruction and houses the town’s tourist information office. A plaque hangs over the front door:

“In diesem Haus hat Dr. Martin Luther (geboren am 10. November 1483) seinen ersten Schulunterricht erhalten. Gewidmet von Konsul Georg Kaiser Berlin. (Born 1483 November 10, Martin Luther received his first school lessons at this location.)”

Tourist Information, Luther's 1st school, Mansfelder Land, Luther Country, Mansfeld Südharz, Mansfeld Lutherstadt, Mansfeld, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Tourist-Information Mansfeld, which was once Luther’s 1st school


4. Stadtkirche St. Georg (St. George Town Church)

Consecrated in the second-half of 1497, the town’s main church honours St. George (the dragonslayer) as the patron saint of Mansfeld. Also venerated is St. Anne, mother to Mary (Christ’s grandmum) and the patron saint of miners. The church is also tomb for the counts of Mansfeld. After his trial at the Diet of Worms in 1521, Luther was declared “heretic” by the Holy Roman Empire, which in effect put a price on his head. He was willingly “kidnapped”, escaping quickly into exile at Wartburg Castle in Eisenach. In hiding, Luther adopted the name “Junker Jörg” (Squire George) in direct reference to St. George.

Stadtkirche St. Georg, St. George Church, Luther sculpture, Marc Fromm, Mansfelder Land, Luther Country, Mansfeld Südharz, Mansfeld Lutherstadt, Mansfeld, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Stadtkirche St. Georg

Stadtkirche St. Georg, St. George Church, Luther sculpture, Marc Fromm, Mansfelder Land, Luther Country, Mansfeld Südharz, Mansfeld Lutherstadt, Mansfeld, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Stadtkirche St. Georg

St. George Church, Luther sculpture, Marc Fromm, Mansfelder Land, Luther Country, Mansfeld Südharz, Mansfeld Lutherstadt, Mansfeld, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Sculpture over church’s north portal: “Martin Luther als Treckejunge” (Martin Luther as young trekker)

From about 1520, a large limewood sculpture of St. George slaying a dragon hung over the church’s north portal. The sculpture suffered years of weathering, forcing a move inside the church for protection. To replace the St. George relief, church authorities commissioned new work by way of a sculpture created by artist Marc Fromm. Unveiled in 2016, the sculpture “Martin Luther als Treckejunge” (“Martin Luther as young trekker”) symbolizes Luther’s life and work as a long journey. While symbolic, it’s worth pointing out Martin never worked in the local mines, although boys and young men often worked demanding manual labour to drag rock and other materials out of mines. The 1.2-metre (4-foot) high sculpture includes a young Martin holding a small crucifix, accompanied by a mining cart with a dragon tail to represent the “good hunt to slay evil” and an apple tree to represent “tree of life.” The letters “VDMA” is a Latin acronym, “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum” (“God’s word is eternal”), used as greeting by members of the Protestant Schmalkaldic League in the middle of the 16th-century. Additional description (in German) of the sculpture is located here.

Due to ongoing interior renovations and reconstruction, the church interior was closed at the time of my visit in late-2016.


5. Lutherbrunnen (Luther Memorial Fountain)

The sculptor Paul Juckoff began construction of a fountain and memorial dedicated to Martin Luther. The limestone structure consisted of three bronze reliefs to represent the three stages of Luther’s life: (1) “out into the world”, when Luther left Mansfeld at the age of 13 for Magdeburg; (2) “into the struggle”, when Luther posted his 95 Theses, changing religion and Europe; (3) “through to victory”, as Luther became the great Reformer, avoided the death sentence as “heretic”, and helped translate the Bible fully into the German language. The Luther fountain in Mansfeld was inaugurated in November 1913.

Lutherbrunnen, Luther fountain, Lutherplatz, Mansfelder Land, Luther Country, Mansfeld Südharz, Mansfeld Lutherstadt, Mansfeld, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

At 13, Martin goes out into the world (“hinaus in die Welt”).

Lutherbrunnen, Luther fountain, Lutherplatz, Mansfelder Land, Luther Country, Mansfeld Südharz, Mansfeld Lutherstadt, Mansfeld, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Hinaus in die Welt (out into the world): “protecting” young Martin are portraits of his parents and a sculpture of St. George on his horse.


6. Schloss Mansfeld (Mansfeld Castle)

Mansfeld Castle is on a rock spur some 40 to 50 metres above the town. The castle grounds contains ruins of a fortress, ruins of three castles from the Mansfeld noble family (who governed the region until the 18th-century), and the preserved castle church.

In the 16th-century, the counts of Mansfeld were among the most influential nobles in the German Holy Roman Empire, but the year 1501 saw a division into three new family lines: Vorderort, Mittelort, Hinterort. Construction of three separate castles began in 1518 and completed in 1532. With the rise of the Reformation, the counts of Mansfeld-Mittelort and -Hinterort followed suit, but the count of Mansfeld-Vorderort stuck with Catholicism. Martin Luther likely visited the Castle with his family when he was a boy, but he was a frequent guest as an adult (as “The Reformer”). In his final visit in December 1545, he mediated a dispute among the Mansfeld counts. Already in bad health, he subsequently made his way to Eisleben, and died weeks later in February 1546.

The castle site is now owned and run by the evangelical organization CVJM Sachsen-Anhalt, and in 1997, the Förderverein Schloss Mansfeld association was established.

Schloss Mansfeld, Mansfelder Land, Luther Country, Mansfeld Südharz, Mansfeld Lutherstadt, Mansfeld, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Schloss Mansfeld, from Lutherplatz

Schloss Mansfeld, Mansfelder Land, Luther Country, Mansfeld Südharz, Mansfeld Lutherstadt, Mansfeld, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, fotoeins.com

West-northwest view from the castle

The spacious site is perfect for weddings and events. Unfortunately, the operating organization recently refused to allow gay and lesbian couples to have weddings on site, despite objections by town officials and Saxony-Anhalt’s Minister of Justice and Equality (Mitteldeutschland Zeitung, 7 April 2017).


How to reach Mansfeld

From Eisleben, driving to Mansfeld takes 20 to 25 minutes. With VGS Südharzlinie public transport, it’s about 50 minutes with Bus 420 (Eisleben-Mansfeld-Hettstedt); look for scheduled times between stops “Eisleben Bahnhof” and “Mansfeld, Oberstadt”. Click on the arrow-window icon at the upper-left corner of the map below for the legend.

1 In his thirties, Martin changed his surname from “Luder” to “Luther”, because the noun “Luder” had unsavory meanings and “Luther” was similar to the Greek word “Eleutherius“; see also Deutschlandfunk interview with Dr. Jürgen Udolph in German on 9 May 2016.

More on Mansfeld

•   Luther 2017 (English)
•   Luther Country (English)
•   Mansfeld-Südharz regional tourism (German)
•   Germany Tourism (English)

Museum Luthers Elternhaus (Luther’s Parents’ House)

•   Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten (English)
•   Lutherstädte Eisleben Mansfeld (German)

Thanks to IMG- and Sachsen-Anhalt-Tourismus, the town of Mansfeld for access to both museum and castle, and Anja Ulrich (Tourist-Information Lutherstadt Eisleben und Stadt Mansfeld e.V.) for guiding both Eisleben and Mansfeld. I made the photos above on 27 October 2016. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-9H2. IMG- and Sachsen-Anhalt-Tourismus supported my visit to the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt from 25 October to 3 November 2016 inclusive. I also received assistance from the cities of Eisleben, Mansfeld, Dessau, Wittenberg, and Halle (Saale).

Coat of arms, Landkreis Mansfeld-Suedharz, Mansfeld-Suedharz, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany. Drawn by T. Rystau (Wikimedia)

Eisleben UNESCO WHS: Luther’s birth and death sites

Above (HL): Luther monument by Rudolf Simmering at Eisleben’s market square. The monument was inaugurated in 1883 to mark the quatercentenary of Luther’s birth year (1483). At left and upper-right are the Hotel Graf von Mansfeld and St. Andrew’s Church, respectively.

With a population over 25-thousand people, Eisleben is a quiet town in central Germany in the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt. But the South Harz region holds a special place in German and European history: Martin Luther came into the world in Eisleben in 1483, spent his childhood years in Mansfeld, and, on a trip home from Wittenberg to negotiate a local dispute in Mansfield, died in Eisleben in 1546. As shown in the map below, a number of important locations in Eisleben are associated with Luther and the Reformation, including the Luther monument in the town’s market square, St. Peter’s Church, St. Andrew’s Church, and St. Anne’s Church. Specifically, two sites in town constitute a part of the inscription for UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996: (1) the house where Luther was born, and (2) the museum on Luther’s death.


The house where Luther was born

Across the street from the city’s Tourist Information office is the museum about Martin Luther’s birth. Born in a 15th-century house at this location, his parents brought him down the street to St. Peter’s Church to have him baptized. One year later in 1484, the family moved to Mansfeld. The house where Luther was born was almost destroyed in the fire of 1689. The town subsequently took over the property and rebuilt the house in the original half-timbered style. By 1693 a public museum for pilgrims was inaugurated within the building. The Museum Luther’s Birth House is one of the oldest museums in a German-speaking country. The house had housed a school for needy children since 1693. Commissioned by Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III in 1817, a new Luther school for the poor was built in the house’s courtyard, opening in 1819 to welcome over 100 children. The museum today includes exhibits about the Luther family, the medieval mining economy, Martin’s baptism, and the state of medieval Catholicism.

Luther’s Birth House
Address: Lutherstrasse 15.
Summer hours (1 April to 31 October): Daily, 1000h to 1800h.
Winter hours (1 November to 31 March): Tuesday to Sunday, 1000h to 1700h.
Admission fee: check here for single admission or combination admission.

Luthers Geburtshaus, Luther Birth House, Eisleben, Lutherstadt Eisleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

Around Luther’s Birth House, 2016: Luthers Geburtshaus (Luther’s birth house), Lutherarmenschule (Luther school for the poor, 1817); Lutherarchiv (Luther Archive, 2016); Petrikirche Zentrum Taufe (St. Peter Church where Luther was baptized in 1483), now Baptism Centre. (HL)

Luthers Geburtshaus, Luther Birth House, Eisleben, Lutherstadt Eisleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

Around Luther’s Birth House, c. 1830. Oil on canvas, by Carl Salomon Warmholz. I’ve added labels to compare this scene with the photo above. (Source)

Luthers Geburtshaus, Luther Birth House, Eisleben, Lutherstadt Eisleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

The Luder family. HL: Hans Luder (father), MLi: Margarete Lindemann (mother), ML: Martin Luther, KB: Katharina von Bora (wife). One year after Martin’s birth in Eisleben (EIL), the family moved to Mansfeld (MSH) in 1484. “The Luders are related by marriage to the Mansfeld county’s leading families, belonging to the class of wealthy master-smelters. Their sons can reach high positions in administration, university, and clergy due to their academic education and social class.” (HL)

Luthers Geburtshaus, Luther Birth House, Eisleben, Lutherstadt Eisleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

From Luder to Eleutherios and Luther: “In his early thirties, Martin changes his surname ‘Luder’ (also Lüder, derived from Lothar) into ‘Luther’ and begins signing his letters with ‘Eleutherios’. The Humanists’ custom at the time was a Latinization of names and Martin finds that his family name is related to the Greek word ‘eleutherios’ meaning ‘free’, which seems appropriate especially after publishing/announcing his 95 Theses in 1517.” At right is a copy of a 1579 copperplate engraving of Martin Luther with his doctor’s hat, by Johann Sadeler and Caspar Ruts after Lucas Cranach the Elder 1521. (HL)

Luthers Geburtshaus, Luther Birth House, Eisleben, Lutherstadt Eisleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

Luther with swan, 18th-century copperplate engraving. (Source)

Luthers Geburtshaus, Luther Birth House, Eisleben, Lutherstadt Eisleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

Transcription of letters by Luther and Phillip Melanchthon, 1544: “Luther loses two daughters who die young; he is especially distraught at losing 13-year old Magdalena who dies in his arms in 1542. Luther drafts the inscription on his daughter’s gravestone of which various versions have been handed down.” Sources: (1), pp.3373-3374; (2) pp.413; (3)

Luthers Geburtshaus, Luther Birth House, Eisleben, Lutherstadt Eisleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

Museum Luthers Geburtshaus: entrance, with passage from Danish author Hans Christian Andersen who visited Eisleben in 1831. (HL)

Luthers Geburtshaus, Luther Birthhouse, Eisleben, Lutherstadt Eisleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

Old front entrance on Lutherstrasse: “In diesem Haus wurde geboren Dr. M. Luther den 10 November 1483. Gottes Wort ist Luthers Lehr, darum vergeht sie nimmer mehr. / Dr. Martin Luther was born in this house on 10 November 1483. Luther’s teachings is God’s Word which will never pass away.” (HL)


The museum about Luther’s death

With a short walk across town, you arrive at the museum about the house where Luther died (Museum Luthers Sterbehaus). Martin Luther arrived from Wittenberg in late-January 1546 to mediate a dispute among Mansfeld’s counts. Already in poor health, his condition deteriorated, but he successfully negotiated a resolution. At age 62, he died soon after on the evening of 17-18 February. By the 18th-century, people had begun associating the house near St. Andrew’s Church with the place where he died. The Prussian government purchased the house in 1862-1863, restored the building in late-Gothic style, and authorized recreations of the rooms and furnishings at the time of Luther’s death. Key items now on exhibit include a 1541 Bible with handwritten notes by Luther and other Reformers, and the cloth covering Luther’s coffin in 1546 on the procession from Eisleben to Wittenberg. Other displays include his final weeks and days leading up to his death, and his thoughts on mortality and life after death. A look at the modern extension to the museum can be found here.

Museum Luther’s Death House
Address: Andreaskirchplatz 7.
Summer hours (1 April to 31 October): Daily, 1000h to 1800h.
Winter hours (1 November to 31 March): Tuesday to Sunday, 1000h to 1700h.
Admission fee: check here for single admission or combination admission.

Museum Luther Death House, Museum Luthers Sterbehaus, Eisleben, Lutherstadt Eisleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

The plaque above the front portal reads: “In diesem Hause starb Dr. M. Luther den 12. Februar 1246.” (Dr. Martin Luther died in this house on 12 February 1246.) We now know he died in another location down the street at Markt 56. (HL)

Museum Luther Death House, Museum Luthers Sterbehaus, Eisleben, Lutherstadt Eisleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

Luther’s final journey in 1546 to Eisleben to mediate a dispute among Mansfeld noblemen. (HL)

Museum Luther Death House, Museum Luthers Sterbehaus, Eisleben, Lutherstadt Eisleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

Lucas Furtenagel was on hand to draw Luther’s portrait in death. This Bible was owned by Furtenagel and what makes the book unique are the handwritten notes from Luther, his reformer colleagues, his son, and his two grandchildren. “Rudolstädter Medianbibel”, Vol. 2. Wittenberg: Hans Lufft, 1541. (HL)

Cloth used to cover Luther coffin, Museum Luther Death House, Museum Luthers Sterbehaus, Eisleben, Lutherstadt Eisleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

Under clear housing in a wood case is the cloth (pall) used in 1546 to cover Luther’s coffin from Eisleben to Wittenberg. (HL)

Museum Luther Death House, Museum Luthers Sterbehaus, Eisleben, Lutherstadt Eisleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

Casts of Luther’s death mask and hands, 1926 plaster reconstruction by Prof. Hans Hahne. Original casts made immediately after Luther’s death are now housed in Halle’s market church “Unser Lieben Frauen”. (HL)

Museum Luther Death House, Museum Luthers Sterbehaus, Eisleben, Lutherstadt Eisleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

A mighty tree in the courtyard in the modern expansion of the museum (HL)

Museum Luther Death House, Museum Luthers Sterbehaus, Eisleben, Lutherstadt Eisleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

The actual location where Luther died

The much publicized location of Luther’s death house is not the actual site of his death. Due to miscommunication and confusion, Luther died at the location now occupied by the Hotel Graf Von Mansfeld across the town hall and town square. At what is now Markt 56, the original building where Luther died was demolished in 1570, and another building took its place. The Prussian State had erroneously purchased the building up the street near St. Andrew’s Church, because an historian at the time mistook the residence of the Drachstedt family (who were family friends of the Luthers) for the site of Martin Luther’s death. The error wasn’t discovered until recently, and it was too costly to make wholesale changes to the museum (let alone move, even if it was possible). Also, with the current location occupied by the hotel and the hotel’s owners uninterested in turning the venue into a pilgrims’ site, the museum about Luther’s death serves its purpose to educate, and visitors should simply keep in mind the distinction between locations.

Hotel Graf von Mansfeld, Eisleben, Lutherstadt Eisleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

Hotel Graf von Mansfeld

Hotel Graf von Mansfeld, Eisleben, Lutherstadt Eisleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

The hotel menu is front and centre on display, but at upper right is the sign “Luther war hier” (Luther was here)

Hotel Graf von Mansfeld, Eisleben, Lutherstadt Eisleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

“Luther rose” in cobblestone pavement in front of the hotel


With the train, Eisleben is about 80 minutes from Erfurt, 80 minutes from Leipzig (with 1 change of train in Halle or Bitterfeld), and 2 hours from Berlin (with 1 change of train in Halle or Bitterfeld).

Click on the arrow-window icon at the upper-left corner of the map below for the legend.

My thanks to IMG- and Sachsen-Anhalt-Tourismus, the city of Eisleben, and Anja Ulrich for her time as guide in Eisleben and Mansfeld. I made the photos above on 26 and 27 October 2016. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-9gq. IMG- and Sachsen-Anhalt-Tourismus supported my visit to the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt from 25 October to 3 November 2016 inclusive. I also received assistance from the cities of Mansfeld, Dessau, Halle (Saale), and Wittenberg.

20+ German ‘Welterbe’ for UNESCO World Heritage Day

Above: Cologne at dusk, 26 May 2016 (HL).

Every year UNESCO-Welterbetag (UNESCO World Heritage Day) in Germany is celebrated on the first Sunday in June. I highlight a number of places designated World Heritage Sites in Germany.

  1. Aachen Cathedral (Aachener Dom)
  2. Bamberg Old Town (Bamberger Altstadt)
  3. Berlin Museum Island (Museumsinsel)
  4. Bremen Roland (Bremer Roland)
  5. Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)
  6. Dessau Bauhaus
  7. Eisenach Wartburg
  8. Eisleben Luther sites (Luthers Geburtshaus, Sterbehaus)
  9. Essen Zollverein
  10. Hamburg Commerical and Warehouse Districts (Kontorhausviertel, Speicherstadt)
  11. Lorsch Abbey
  12. Lübeck Old Town (Lübecker Altstadt)
  13. Potsdam Palaces and Parks
  14. Regensburg Old Town (Regensburger Altstadt)
  15. Reichenau Island
  16. Speyer Imperial Cathedral (Kaiserdom)
  17. Upper Middle Rhine Valley (Oberes Mittelrheintal)
  18. Wadden Sea (Wattenmeer)
  19. Weimar Bauhaus
  20. Weimar Classicism
  21. Wittenberg Luther sites (Lutherhaus, Stadtkirche)

In 2018 World Heritage Day in Germany takes place on June 3.
In 2018 findet der deutsche UNESCO-Welterbetag am 3. Juni statt.

UNESCO DE, UNESCO, Germany

( Click here for more )

Martin Luther: on trial in 1521 at the Diet of Worms

For anybody strolling around a German town, a natural point of visual gravity is the spire associated with the town’s cathedral. That’s no different in the town of Worms on the Rhine river between Mainz and Mannheim. What is different in a walk through the gardens next to the cathedral is that “Martin Luther was here” and that events here put his life in danger.

( Click here for more )

Worms: world’s largest Reformation Monument

Arriving by German rail or on Rhine river cruises, visitors to the city of Worms (pronounced ‘VOHRmz’) will likely sample the crisp wine from the surrounding Rheinhessen region; learn about the 5th-century Nibelung saga; see important religious symbols including the “crown” that is St. Peter’s Cathedral, and remaining structures from the once-thriving Jewish community which along with Speyer and Mainz formed a medieval league of Jewish communities. Many will retrace Martin Luther’s steps in the city.

In April 1521, Luther was ordered to appear at the Diet (Imperial Parliament) convening in Worms. In the presence of Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Fifth, Luther held firm against charges of heresy and refused to recant. What’s amazing is that Luther survived the triumphant journey from Wittenberg to Worms and, with his subsequent status as “outlaw” from the imperial edict following the Diet, Luther survived departure from Worms because his benefactor, Friedrich III, secretly arranged for Luther to be “kidnapped” and brought to safety at the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach.

The Monument

Worms is home to the world’s largest monument dedicated to the Reformation. Unveiled in mid-1868, German sculptor Ernst Rietschel created the monument with the assistance of Adolf von Donndorf, Gustav Kietz and Johannes Schilling. The entire monument is on a raised square base 12.55 metres (41.2 feet) on a side for a surface area of 157 square metres (1695 square feet). An information pillar provided by the city provides a short description of the monument in four languages.

(German) Luther-Denkmal : Weltdenkmal der Reformation 1868. Luthers Lied “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” wurde umgesetzt in Stein. Dr. Martin Luther steht über den Vorreformatoren, umgeben von Fürsten und Gelehrten sowie Personifikationen von Städten der Reformation.

(English) Luther Monument : The international memorial to the Reformation, 1868. Luther’s hymn, “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott / A mighty fortress is our God” is transformed here into stone. Dr. Martin Luther towers over the earlier reformers, surrounded by electors and friends as well as personifications of the important cities of the Reformation.

(French) Monument de Luther : Monument mondial de la Réforme, 1868. Le chant de Luther “notre Dieu est une place forte” fut materialisé en pierre. Le docteur Martin Luther domine les préreformateurs eux-même entourés de princes électeurs, d’amis ainsi que de personnalités des villes reformées.

(Latin) Monumentum reformationis : Anno MDCCCLXVIII exstructum. Martini Lutheri canticum, quod “Deus, nostra spes et fortitudo” inscriptum est, in lapidem transformatum est. Doctor Martinus Lutherus inter eos, qui iam antea de reformatione ecclesiae meditati sunt, eminet et principes, viri docti, feminae urbes reformationis repraesentantes eum circumstant.


Listed below are 12 major statues representing people and cities supporting the early-Reformation movement and subsequent evolution to Protestantism.

Lutherdenkmal, Reformationsdenkmal, Luther monument, Reformation monument, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, fotoeins.com

Luther/Reformation Monument facing northwest. Statues for Waldo, Wycliffe, and Speyer are at the back and not seen in this view.

Lutherdenkmal, Reformationsdenkmal, Luther monument, Reformation monument, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, fotoeins.com

Luther Monument, schematic with 12 major statues (described below). In this orientation, north is pointed to the upper-right.

1.   Martin Luther (Germany)

Martin Luther is at the centre of the monument for his primary role in the 16th-century movement; Luther stands on a high pedestal and holds a fist to the Bible referring to his trial at the Diet of Worms in 1521. His stare is directed to the scene of the trial at the former location of the Bishop’s Palace.

Directly below and around the Luther statue are statues of his European predecessors whose respective efforts to reform the Church helped pave the way for Luther: France’s Waldo, England’s Wycliffe, Italy’s Savonarola, and the Czech Hus. Unlike some of these gentlemen, Luther survived the “triple threat”: excommunication from the Catholic Church, exile (in Wartburg Castle), and (multiple threats of) execution.

Lutherdenkmal, Reformationsdenkmal, Luther monument, Reformation monument, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, fotoeins.com

Luther at centre

Lutherdenkmal, Reformationsdenkmal, Luther monument, Reformation monument, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, fotoeins.com

Martin Luther: “Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders, Gott helfe mir! Amen!”

Luther on trial

The front-facing panel under Luther’s statue depicts Luther’s 1521 trial in Worms in the presence of Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Fifth (Karl V). Construction of the monument began in 1856 (“begonnen”) and completed in 1868 (“vollendet”).

Lutherdenkmal, Reformationsdenkmal, Luther monument, Reformation monument, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Luther vor Kaiser Karl V. in Worms 1521. Denkmal begonnen 1856, vollendet 1868.”

2.   Peter Waldo (France)

As the earliest of Luther’s predecessors, the 12th-century French merchant known as Petrus Waldus (Peter Waldo) surrendered his wealth and founded the Waldensian (Poor Men of Lyon) movement which favoured simple living while rejecting common doctrine (i.e., paying indulgences to escape purgatory). For his troubles and continuing to preach without approval from Rome or from regional authorities, Waldo and his followers were forced to leave Lyon for the Piedmont, southern France, and northern Italy. Waldo was excommunicated by Pope Lucius III in 1184.

Lutherdenkmal, Reformationsdenkmal, Luther monument, Reformation monument, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Petrus Waldus 1197”

3.   John Wycliffe (England)

University of Oxford scholar and professor John Wycliffe is best known as (one of) the first to translate the Bible into English. He openly questioned the church’s authority over earthly holdings and on civic matters. After condemnation by the Pope, local church officials, and the university, he went into seclusion and died in relative obscurity in 1384. He was posthumously declared a heretic in 1415, and the Catholic Church ordered all his writings be burned. In 1428, Pope Martin the Fifth ordered exhumation; Wycliffe’s bones were unearthed and burned, and the ashes were thrown into the nearby river.

Lutherdenkmal, Reformationsdenkmal, Luther monument, Reformation monument, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Johann Wiclef 1387”

4.   Girolamo Savonarola (Italy)

Working in Florence, the Italian friar Girolamo (also Hieronymous) Savonarola fought against church corruption, authoritarian rule of the Church, unfair treatment of the poor, excess and decadence. The “bonfire of the vanities” commonly refers to the collection and public burning in Florence of fancy dress, ornaments, books, and art on 7 February 1497 during the Mardi Gras festival. After continual refusals to comply with Rome, Savonarola was excommunicated by Pope Alexander VI in 1497. For his aborted and failed attempt to convert Florence into a reformed state, the citizens turned on Savonarola in 1498; he was arrested, tortured, hung, and burned.

Lutherdenkmal, Reformationsdenkmal, Luther monument, Reformation monument, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Hieronymus Savonarola 1498”

5.   Jan Hus (Czech)

Because his writings survived, Wycliffe’s work became familiar to Czech scholars. Jan Hus (John Huss) of Prague’s Charles University became influenced by Wycliffe and subsequently began the Boheman Reformation movement. By most accounts, Hus would have had the greatest influence on Luther. And like Wycliffe, Hus denounced church immorality and practices of selling indulgences and ecclesiastical privileges, and supported the idea that the church was about the people, and not about priests, bishops, or the Pope. For refusing to stand down and continuing to espouse Wycliffe’s “heretical opinions”, Hus fell out with the University and was excommunicated by Pope Alexander V in 1410. Hus was summoned to the Council of Constance in 1414 to answer charges of heresy. Upon arrival, Hus was arrested and held for a year. After a mock trial, he was burned at the stake on 6 July 1415, which would prompt the Hussite Wars a few years later. Luther most certainly had Hus in mind when the former was summoned in 1521 to Worms to answer charges of heresy. The Czech people hold Hus in high regard for his independent stance against the long-standing stranglehold of both religion (Catholic church) and external rule (German-dominated Holy Roman Empire). Jan Hus Day is marked annually on the anniversary of his death by burning.

Lutherdenkmal, Reformationsdenkmal, Luther monument, Reformation monument, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Johann Huss 1415”

6.   Friedrich III, Elector of Saxony

Although he remained Catholic until his death, Friedrich III (known also as Friedrich the Wise) was the Elector of Saxony and Luther’s contemporary and benefactor. Friedrich III founded the University of Wittenberg in 1502, brought Luther to Wittenberg University as theology professor in 1512, and persuaded Philipp Melanchthon to the university to teach Greek in 1518. In 1521, Friedrich III arranged to have Luther “kidnapped” and brought without harm to the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach after Luther was declared an outlaw after his trial at the Diet of Worms. It’s impossible to gauge what further effect and role Luther and his colleagues would have played in the early Reformation had Friedrich III not intervened.

Lutherdenkmal, Reformationsdenkmal, Luther monument, Reformation monument, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Friedrich der Weise, Kurfürst von Sachsen”

7.   Augsburg (Peace)

Following Luther’s debate with Cajetan in 1518 and declaration of the Augsburg Confessions in 1530, the city of Augsburg was again an important site where a peace treaty in 1555 between Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and the Schmalkaldic League was signed (see Philip I below). The treaty ended the struggle between Catholics and Protestants, and made Protestantism official within the Holy Roman Empire. Local rulers were allowed to choose Lutheranism or Catholicism as the faith of practice for their respective states.

Lutherdenkmal, Reformationsdenkmal, Luther monument, Reformation monument, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Augsburger Friede 1555”

8.   Johannes Reuchlin

As a proponent of humanism and an academic expert in Greek and Hebrew languages, German scholar Johannes Reuchlin was the great-uncle of Philipp Melanchthon, providing great influence on the latter’s education and future calling. A common practice of the time, Reuchlin converted his surname into the Greek “Capnion”, a practice which his great-nephew would also follow. Reuchlin also recommended Melanchthon to the University of Wittenberg to become professor of Greek and Hebrew in 1518. Reuchlin quietly supported the printing and distribution of books in Hebrew at a time when his opponents wanted Jews to convert (by force) to the Reformation.

Lutherdenkmal, Reformationsdenkmal, Luther monument, Reformation monument, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Johannes Reuchlin”

9.   Speyer (Protests)

At the Diet assembled in Speyer in 1529, six princes and 14 Imperial Free Cities lodged an official protest against the ban on Martin Luther declared by the Diet of Worms after Luther’s trial in 1521. The Reformation delegates refused to agree to demands to return to Catholic principles, and eventually submitted a “Letter of Protestation”. Followers of the Lutheran movement became known as “Protestants”, and the movement itself would be called “Protestantism.”

Lutherdenkmal, Reformationsdenkmal, Luther monument, Reformation monument, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Protestierende Speyer 1529”

10.   Philipp Melanchthon

Considered the “Second Reformer” after Martin Luther, German Philipp Melanchthon studied Greek and Hebrew; he changed his surname from the German “Schwartzerdt” (‘black earth’) to the Greek version “Melanchthon.” He became professor in Greek and Hebrew in 1518 at Wittenberg University after recommendation from his great-uncle Johannes Reuchlin. He turned his interests to theology and began lecturing on the subject after securing a degree in theology from the university in 1519. A major figure in helping Luther to translate the Old Testament into German, Melanchthon was also an important player in drafting the Augsburg Confessions in 1530. He would be known as “Praeceptor Germaniae” or “Germany’s teacher” for his lifelong dedication to reorganize standards of education for the general public.

Lutherdenkmal, Reformationsdenkmal, Luther monument, Reformation monument, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Philipp Melanchthon”

11.   (Mourning) Magdeburg

Magdeburg was one of the first cities in medieval Germany to convert from Catholicism to Protestantism. At the city’s request in 1524, Luther gave two sermons which inspired most of the city’s churches to convert to the new Lutheran movement within weeks. As a loyal supporter of Protestantism, Magdeburg was sacked and destroyed by Catholic troops during the Thirty Years’ War. The mourning statue acknowledges the city’s destruction in 1631.

Lutherdenkmal, Reformationsdenkmal, Luther monument, Reformation monument, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Trauernde Magdeburg 1631”

12.   Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse

Philip I was an important supporter of the early Reformation, and would become leader of The Schmalkaldic League. Formed in 1531, the League’s primary role was to protect lands practicing Reformed church services. His support for the Reformation was for reasons both religious and political. Philip I supported reforms at the 1526 Diet of Speyer, and was a leading “Protestant” at the 1529 Diet of Speyer. At the Diet of Augsburg the following year, Philip I represented the Protestants and supported the creation and reading of the “Augsburg Confessions” drafted by Philipp Melanchthon.

Lutherdenkmal, Reformationsdenkmal, Luther monument, Reformation monument, Worms, Rheinland-Pfalz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Philipp der Grossmütige Landgraf von Hessen”


With regional trains, Worms is about 30 minutes from Mannheim and about 80 minutes from Frankfurt am Main (via Mainz or Mannheim). With a short 5-minute walk from Worms Hauptbahnhof (city’s main train station), the Lutherdenkmal memorial is located on a strip of green along the former city wall, and is open to the public free of charge.

2017 is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation (i.e., 95 Theses at Wittenberg’s Castle Church), but many events will occur during the “Luther Decade”, including in 2021 the 500th anniversary of Luther’s trial in Worms. Worms is one of almost 100 cities within an intra-European community project and collaboration called the European Cities of the Reformation.

More

•   City of Worms, in English: summary, in English
•   City of Worms, in German: summary and detailed description
•   About Worms on Luther 2017, in English.
•   About Worms on Germany Tourism, in English.
•   About Worms on Romantic Cities in English and in German.
•   Statues – Hither and Thither (by René & Peter van der Krogt), in English.
•   Regional Geschichte, in German.

Thanks to Tourist Information Worms for arrangements in the city and regional transport beyond, to Bettina Mauer for a guided tour of the city, and to Romantic Germany for their support in various cities along the Rhine river. I made the photos above on 21 and 22 November 2015. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-8zw.

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