Wittenberg UNESCO WHS: The Castle Church
In the east German town of Wittenberg, the Schlosskirche (Castle- or All Saints’-Church) is one of four sites as part of the town’s status as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.
Elector Frederick III of Ernestine Saxony (1463-1525, also known as Frederick the Wise, Friederich der Weise) became the first patron of the Protestant Reformation with his support and defence of Martin Luther. On the site of the original city castle, Frederick the Wise authorized in 1489-1490 a renaissance palace with the entire north wing occupied by the Castle Church. The church was consecrated and inaugurated in 1503 as the castle and university church “Allerheiligen” (All Saints); Martin Luther taught theology as professor at the neighbouring university. The first Protestant service at the Castle Church was held in 1524-1525.
A significant portion of the church including the original wooden doors was burned and destroyed in 1760 during Europe’s Seven Years’ War (1754-1763). The 1770 replacement church was subsequently destroyed in the conflict against France’s Napoleon which ended with the town under Prussian control in 1815. With support and backing by Emperor Wilhelm II, a full renovation of the church took place between 1885 and 1892 with the west tower taking the form and shape we see today (see also below). The graves for Martin Luther, contemporary colleague and fellow reformer Philipp Melanchthon, and Frederick the Wise are inside the church. After three years of renovation and restoration work in time for the Reformation quincentenary in 2017, the Castle Church was reopened in the autumn of 2016.
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