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Posts from the ‘Martin Luther’ category

Martin Luther, Playmobil, Luther Bible, Lutherbibel, Pxhere, CC0

14 for 500 on 10-31: Luther & the Reformation

Above: Playmobil Luther on top of Luther-translated Bible. (Pxhere: CC0, source tog unknown).

Why October 31 is connected with Martin Luther

In most years, October 31 is a statutory holiday in five German federal states. With 2017 as a special 500th anniversary year, all 16 federal states in Germany will observe October 31 as a statutory holiday.

On 31 October 1517, the story goes that Martin Luther strode up to the front door of the Castle Church and nailed his document called “95 Theses”. Luther’s friend and colleague, Phillip Melanchthon, relayed this story years after the fact, but there’s no evidence Luther walked up to Castle Church to pin the document. Wha is clear Luther was outraged by the Catholic Church’s abuse of power and its use of indulgences as a “guilt tax” or “get-out-of-Purgatory fee” to funnel money to Rome and finance the ongoing construction of St. Peter’s Basilica (started in 1506). What’s more likely is that Luther would’ve circulated his document among trusted friends and colleagues, and would’ve quietly sent his document as a letter to his regional Church superior, Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg. What cannot be denied is that his document was considered a provocation, questioning the supreme authority of the Church as the sole legitimate path to God and heaven. While he might not have initially guessed the full impact of his protest document, he eventually understood that it came down to matters of control and authority, and about personal choice, especially in matters of faith.

( Click here for more )

Lutherstadt Wittenberg: St. Mary’s Church (UNESCO WHS)

Above: West side illuminated by afternoon sun, 30 Oct 2016 (HL).

The Stadtkirche Sankt Marien or St. Mary’s Town and Parish Church is the oldest building in Wittenberg and is one of four sites in town as part of Wittenberg’s status as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. Not only is this the location where Luther preached, the church also contains important relics by the Cranachs highlighting the young Reformation movement. As well as contemporaries and colleagues, the Cranach and Luther families themselves were close.

The east chancel (near the main altar) was part of the original St. Mary’s chapel built around 1280. By the early 15th-century, the chapel was incorporated into a triple-naved structure with two towers in the late-Gothic style at the west end of the new church; the Gothic tops were removed and replaced by octagonal shapes by the mid-16th century. The original pulpit from which Luther delivered his sermons has survived the centuries, and is now located in Wittenberg’s Luther House (Lutherhaus).


Stadt- und Pfarrkirche St. Marien, St. Mary's Town and Parish Church, Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, UNESCO, World Heritage, Luther Country, Luther 2017, Germany, fotoeins.com

Northeast corner.

Stadt- und Pfarrkirche St. Marien, St. Mary's Town and Parish Church, Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, UNESCO, World Heritage, Luther Country, Luther 2017, Germany, fotoeins.com

Plaque on outside wall; this is the church where Luther preached regularly during his time in Wittenberg.

Stadt- und Pfarrkirche St. Marien, St. Mary's Town and Parish Church, Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, UNESCO, World Heritage, Luther Country, Luther 2017, Germany, fotoeins.com

Jewish memorial (1988) on the cobblestones; more in a subsequent post.

Stadt- und Pfarrkirche St. Marien, St. Mary's Town and Parish Church, Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, UNESCO, World Heritage, Luther Country, Luther 2017, Germany, fotoeins.com

Southeast corner; more in a subsequent post.

Stadt- und Pfarrkirche St. Marien, St. Mary's Town and Parish Church, Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, UNESCO, World Heritage, Luther Country, Luther 2017, Germany, fotoeins.com

Central aisle, facing east to the front altar.


Cranach Reformation Altar

Completed by Lucas Cranach the Elder in 1547 AD/CE, the Reformation Altar has stood in the church chancel for 470 years. The four panels represented pillars of the Reformation, and included portraits of key Reformation figures and supporters in Wittenberg: Luther, Melanchthon, Bugenhagen, Katharina von Bora (Luther’s wife), and Cranach. The altar was “repainted”, redone, and retouched in 1928.

Stadt- und Pfarrkirche St. Marien, St. Mary's Town and Parish Church, Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, UNESCO, World Heritage, Luther Country, Luther 2017, Germany, fotoeins.com

Luther’s influence is all over the front of the altar with key fundaments to the new confession including baptism, confession, and the Last Supper at upper-left, -right, and -centre, respectively.

Stadt- und Pfarrkirche St. Marien, St. Mary's Town and Parish Church, Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, UNESCO, World Heritage, Luther Country, Luther 2017, Germany, fotoeins.com

Predella (the base). Martin Luther at right preaches in church to the congregation at left. It’s believed the child dressed in red is Martin’s son, Johannes (Hans), sitting next to his mother Katharina von Bora. Standing at centre as expression of faith is the crucified Jesus whose loincloth appears to billow in response to Luther at the pulpit.

Stadt- und Pfarrkirche St. Marien, St. Mary's Town and Parish Church, Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, UNESCO, World Heritage, Luther Country, Luther 2017, Germany, fotoeins.com

Back of the altar, with the risen Christ at centre, flanked by Abraham’s sacrifice and serpents at left and right, respectively. For the longest time, this back portion was affixed to the wall and not visible at all.


Epitaph Paintings

Along the chancel wall surrounding the main altar are epitaph paintings by the Cranach family. The paintings not only honoured the specific person and family, but also highlighted visuals to support the Reformation message.

Stadt- und Pfarrkirche St. Marien, St. Mary's Town and Parish Church, Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, UNESCO, World Heritage, Luther Country, Luther 2017, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Christ’s Baptism in Jordan”, epitaph painting for Johannes Bugenhausen and his family

“Christ’s Baptism in Jordan”, epitaph painting for Johannes Bugenhausen and his family, attributed to Lucas Cranach the Younger; signed and dated on baptism water jug, about 1560.

Johannes Bugenhagen (1485-1558) was a theologian, priest, and a significant contributor to widening and spread of the Reformation. Confessor and advisor to Martin Luther, he performed the marriage ceremony for Luther and Katharina von Bora, and he also baptized their children. The image of Christ’s baptism refers to Bugenhagen’s own given baptism name. Above Christ and John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove is connected with God above with a line of Scripture whose Latin inscription means: “This is my dear Son who brings me joy.” To (viewer) left and right, respectively, are Bugenhagen and sons, and his wife Walpurga (+ 1563) and daughters. In the background at right-centre is the townscape for Wittenberg with the just-recognizable twin towers of the Town Church and the rounded “turret-like” tower of the Castle Church. The painting implies that events pictured on the Jordan river can be transferred to Wittenberg on the Elbe river.

Stadt- und Pfarrkirche St. Marien, St. Mary's Town and Parish Church, Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, UNESCO, World Heritage, Luther Country, Luther 2017, Germany, fotoeins.com

“The Crucifixion”, epitaph image for Sara Cracov. Photo at large angle to line-of-sight; incomplete distortion correction.

“The Crucifixion,” epitaph painting for Sara Cracov (Johann Bugenhausen’s oldest daughter, died 1563), attributed to Lucas Cranach the Younger and Peter Spitzer, completed after 1565.

The central scene is dominated by the three crosses and crucifixions on Mount Golgotha. Below are the kneeling members of the family of Georg Cracov (centre-left) and Sara Cracov (below right); Sara was Johannes Bugenhagen’s eldest daughter. Most of the family is wearing black, except for two children who died prematurely and shown wearing white robes with black crosses. Georg and Sara’s youngest, John, did not survive birth, and Sara also died shortly thereafter. Clearly visible are the castle in the background, as well as the inclusion of a housefly on the leg of the crucified thief gazing skywards. The framing shown dates back to the 1920s which combines the painting and an original Latin inscription.

Stadt- und Pfarrkirche St. Marien, St. Mary's Town and Parish Church, Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, UNESCO, World Heritage, Luther Country, Luther 2017, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Christ’s Resurrection and The Harrowing of Hell”, epitaph painting for Nikolaus von Seidlitz.

“Christ’s Resurrection and The Harrowing of Hell”, epitaph painting for Nicholas of Seidlitz and attributed to Augustin Cranach; signed “HL75”. About 1582.

Working as teacher in Wittenberg, Silesian nobleman Nikolas von Seidlitz died at the age of 30 in 1582. He was subsequently buried in the Town Church. von Seidlitz is shown awake and kneeling at lower-left in a scene representing Christ’s Resurrection, a popular pictorial subject for epitaphs in the 16th-century. To the upper-left in the background is Christ in limbo pulling a woman out by the arm. Above limbo are four animal-like demons. This medieval theological theme of “The Harrowing of Hell” (Christ’s death and descent into hell defeats evil and releases hell’s victims) was repeatedly requested and ordered in the Cranach workshop, regardless of the denomination affiliation of the client.

Stadt- und Pfarrkirche St. Marien, St. Mary's Town and Parish Church, Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, UNESCO, World Heritage, Luther Country, Luther 2017, Germany, fotoeins.com

“The Lord’s Vineyard”, epitaph painting for Paul Eber (source: Wikipedia).

“The Vineyard of the Lord”, epitaph painting for Paul Eber by Lucas Cranach the Younger; about 1569.

Paul Eber was professor of theology at Wittenberg University and, later, parish priest at the Town Church. The epitaph image by Cranch the Younger is at best a colourful allegory of the growing Reformation movement, and at worst a scathing piece of propaganda against Rome’s authority. In the scene of the Lord’s vineyard are two groups: Catholics at left are ripping up vines, destroying the land through negligence, and getting drunk with wine; whereas the Reformers at right are carefully tending to the vines and grapes with key figures Luther, Bugenhagen, and Melanchthon at work in the field. At bottom right are the kneeling members of Paul Eber’s family dressed in black; the five figures in white are his children who died. At bottom left is a group of clerics led by the Pope who appear to be negotiating (unsuccessfully) with Christ and his Apostles.


More from Wittenberg

•   13 highlights in the Old Town
•   Castle Church, where Luther apparently posted his 95 Theses

Except for the last image, I made all remaining photos on 29 and 30 October 2016. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-9eN.

Thanks to IMG- and Sachsen-Anhalt-Tourismus, the city of the city of Wittenberg for their support, and the Luther Hotel for the warm hospitality. 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).

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.

30 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 the following UNESCO World Heritage Sites (WHS) in Germany which I’ve visited.

  1. Aachen Cathedral (Aachener Dom)
  2. Alfeld, Fagus factory (Fagus-Werk)
  3. Bamberg Old Town (Bamberger Altstadt)
  4. Berlin, Modernism Housing Estates
  5. Berlin, Museum Island (Museumsinsel)
  6. Blaubeuren, Ice Age caves
  7. Bremen Roland (Bremer Roland)
  8. Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)
  9. Dessau Bauhaus
  10. Dessau-Wörlitz, Garden Kingdom
  11. Eisenach Wartburg
  12. Eisleben* Luther sites (Luthers Geburtshaus, Sterbehaus)
  13. Essen Zollverein
  14. Goslar, Rammelsberg Ore Mines
  15. Hamburg, Commerical and Warehouse Districts (Kontorhausviertel, Speicherstadt)
  16. Hildesheim, St. Michael’s & St. Mary’s
  17. Höxter, Corvey Abbey
  18. Kassel, Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe
  19. Lorsch Abbey
  20. Lübeck Old Town (Lübecker Altstadt)
  21. Potsdam Palaces and Parks
  22. Regensburg Old Town (Regensburger Altstadt)
  23. Reichenau Island
  24. Speyer Imperial Cathedral (Kaiserdom)
  25. Unteruhldingen, Prehistoric Pile Dwellings (Pfahlbauten)
  26. Upper Middle Rhine Valley (Oberes Mittelrheintal)
  27. Wadden Sea (Wattenmeer)
  28. Weimar Bauhaus
  29. Weimar Classicism
  30. Wittenberg* Luther sites (Lutherhaus, Stadtkirche)
  31. Würzburg Residence (Residenz)

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

* The Luther sites in Eisleben and Wittenberg are inscribed as a single UNESCO WHS.

UNESCO DE, UNESCO, Germany

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