Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg
Luther Memorials In Eisleben And Wittenberg
Cultural Germany Europe And North America States Of Saxony-anhalt (sachsen-anhalt) And Thuringia (thüringen)

These memorials are of outstanding universal value as bearing unique testimony to the Protestant Reformation, which was one of the most significant events in the religious and political history of the world, and as outstanding examples of 19th-century historicism. They are all associated with the lives of Martin Luther and his fellow-reformer Melanchthon.

In the 15th and 16th centuries Eisleben owed its great prosperity to copper and silver mining, Martin Luther was born there on 10 November 1483 at lodgings in a house in a street then known as Lange Gasse. The family moved in the following year to Mansfeld, some 10 km distant from Eisleben. After studying philosophy at Erfurt University, Martin Luther joined the Augustinian Order in 1505. He stayed there until 1510, when he transferred to the newly built Augustinian monastery at Wittenberg, where he also held the chair of Bible studies at the University. Two years later, on 31 October 1517, he launched the Reformation by nailing his 95 Propositions to the north door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

Luther developed his views on the authority of Holy Scripture and the doctrine of salvation by faith in publications in the years that followed, actions which led to his being excommunicated and banished from the empire by the imperial Diet of Worms in 1521. Frederick of Saxony extended his protection to Luther, whom he sheltered in his castle of Wartburg, enabling him to begin translating of the Bible into German. He returned to Wittenberg in March 1522, and in 1525 he broke with his monastic vows and married the former nun, Katharina von Bora.His household became the centre for reformists from all over Europe, and the family room that he created on the first floor was the setting for his 'table talks,' which were later to be published.

The following individual sites and monuments are included in the World Heritage site:

  • Luther's birthplace (1483), Eisleben : one of the oldest town houses but heavily restored;it is noteworthy for a special mixture of historical importance and 19th-century historicism.
  • House in which Luther died (1546), Meben : now used as a museum and offices for the Luther Memorials organization.
  • Luther Hall, Wittenberg : a three-storey building housing the Luther Hall, part of the early 16th-century monastery.
  • Melanchthon's house, Wittenberg : built in 1536 in typical Renaissance style - a narrow three-storey building crowned by a tripartite round-arched staggered gable. The internal arrangement of rooms is original;unlike the previous houses;it retains much of its 16th-century character.
  • Town Church, Wittenberg : located near the Market Place in the centre of the old town;in late Gothic Style, with two massive towers. The most striking feature is the main altar, the work of Lucas Cranach the Elder and the Younger, and strongly influenced by Luther and Melanchthon in its iconography.
  • Castle Church, Wittenberg : the castle rises above the medieval town, to the west, and the spire of its church crowns the north-western corner. Much of the original character of the castle has been lost, as a result of its having been reused as a barracks in the 19th century, but the church is largely as it was at the time of Luther. It is a long basilical structure with an eastern apse, a typical example of the German Hallenkirche in very late Gothic style. Access is through the western door;because of its symbolic importance, the second door on the north side, the famous Propositions Portal, is only used on special occasions. Its ogival arch is contemporary with the original construction in 1499, as an inscription testifies. The decoration around the door includes representations of Luther and Melanchthon, and the Latin text of the 95 Propositions is displayed on the bronze doors. The church houses the tombs of Luther and Melanchthon.