Collegiate Church, Castle and Old Town of Quedlinburg
Collegiate Church, Castle And Old Town Of Quedlinburg
Cultural Germany Europe And North America State Of Saxony-anhalt (sachsen-anhalt)

The importance of Quedlinburg rests on three main elements: the preservation of the medieval street pattern;the wealth of urban vernacular buildings, especially timber-framed houses of the 16th and 17th centuries, and the important Romanesque collegiate church of St Servatius. The original urban layout is remarkably well preserved: it is a classic example of the growth of European medieval towns. The history of the medieval and early modern town is perfectly illustrated by the street pattern of the present-day town.

Situated in a hilly region to the north of the Harz Mountains, villa Quitilingaburg is first mentioned in 922 in an official document of Henry I (the Fowler), who was elected German King in 919. The town owes its wealth and importance during the Middle Ages to Henry I and his successors. On the death of Henry I in 936 his widow Mathilde remained in Quedlinburg at the collegiate church of St Servatius on the Castle Hill, founded by Henry's son and successor Otto I as a collegial establishment for unmarried daughters of the nobility.

Westendorf, the area around the Burgberg, quickly attracted a settlement of merchants and craftsmen, which was granted market rights in 994. Several other settlements also developed in what was to become the early town centre, which was granted special privileges by the Emperors Henry III and Lothar IV in the 11th and 12th centuries. A Benedictine monastery was founded in 946 on the second hill, the Münzenberg. The Quedlinburg merchants were given the right to trade without restriction or payment of duties from the North Sea to the Alps. The resulting prosperity led to a rapid expansion of the town. A new town (Neustadt) was founded in the 12th century on the eastern bank of the river Bode, laid out on a regular plan.

The two towns were merged in 1330 and were surrounded by a common city wall. The new, enlarged town joined the Lower Saxon Town Alliance (Städtebund) in 1384, and in 1426 it became a member of the Hanseatic League. Quedlinburg retained an important economic role, as evidenced by the many elaborate timber-framed houses from the 16th and 17th centuries. The protectorate (Vogtei) of the town was sold by its hereditary owner, the Elector of Saxony, to the House of Brandenburg-Prussia in 1698, and in 1802 its special free status as an imperial foundation came to an end when it was formally incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia.

The area comprises the historic town enclosed within the city walls, consisting of the old (10th century) and new (12th century) towns, the Westendorf district with the collegiate church and the buildings of the imperial foundation, St Wipert's Church, and the Münzenberg. The nucleus of the town is the castle hill, with its administrative and religious buildings, around which settlements of craftsmen and traders quickly grew up to service the requirements of the rulers and their households. As was so often the case in central Europe, an independent mercantile settlement with civic rights was founded on the opposite side of the river, which was to be merged after a short time with the original town to create a new administrative unit whose integrity was demonstrated with the construction of an encircling town wall. To this in turn were accreted new extra-mural suburbs.

The original collegiate church of St Servatius was built when Henry the Fowler established his residence on the castle hill. The first basilica, in the crypt of which Henry and his wife Mathilde were buried, was destroyed by a disastrous fire in 1070. The crypt was incorporated into the new structure, also basilican in plan, that was constructed between 1070 and 1129. The two western bays of the three-aisled crypt survive, with their remarkable Ottonian 'mushroom' capitals. The groined vaulting of the new, raised crypt, stucco capitals, imperial and other tombs, and wall paintings make this one of the key monuments of the history of art from the 10th to the 12th centuries. The twin-towered western facade was added at the time of the reconstruction. Much of the decoration is in northern Italian style, emphasizing the imperial connections of the church.