The Luther Memorials in Wittenberg and Eisleben
Would you like to see the history of the Reformation brought to life in historical locations? Then simply visit the Luther Memorials in Wittenberg and Eisleben, where Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon left their mark. Visit the Castle Church, on whose door Luther is said to have nailed his Ninety-five Theses, (also known as the Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences) on 31 October, 1517. His words went on to change the world.
In the footsteps of the great reformer
No other German state is so closely linked with the Reformation and with the life and works of Martin Luther than Saxony-Anhalt. The Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg form a combined World Heritage Site.
Born in Eisleben, now the center of modern-day Saxony-Anhalt, Martin Luther spent the first years of his life in the county of Mansfeld. The house where he was born and the museum attached to it boast well over 250 fascinating exhibits that make the time of Luther come alive and give an insight into how the reformer-to-be started out before going on to lead such an eventful life. One thing that stands out in the exhibition is how closely tied Luther was to his parents and the surrounding region. During his lifetime, Luther often visited the county of Mansfeld in order to liaise between the lordships. It was during one such visit that he passed away, making Eisleben both his birthplace and deathplace. And so it was that the course of his life came full circle when he suffered a suspected heart attack en route to Eisleben. He died a few days later from the aftereffects. The house where he died and the accompanying museum explore the mortuary cults in existence at the time of his death and today. Visitors can discover how Luther dealt with dying and death as a believer, comforter and theologian. The museum also puts on a varying array of special exhibitions. The hands-on exhibition “Speak up!” is running until the end of 2022 and invites visitors to discover language through interaction and play.
However, the most important site documenting the reformer’s life will always be Luther’s House in Wittenberg. This is where Luther lived with his own family for over 35 years and where he wrote his Theses that went on to change the world. The exhibition in the former Augustinian monastery, with its highlight of the authentic Luther Room, draws reformation enthusiasts from near and far. Visitors to the house learn not just about Martin Luther the great reformer and scholar but also Luther the husband and family man.From August 2021, the neighboring Augusteum will house a special exhibition called “Plague – a Pandemic Changes the World.” Luther had many supporters, one of whom lived just around the corner: Philipp Melanchthon. Melanchthon’s House, one of the most beautiful town houses in Wittenberg, is now a museum. Visitors to this authentic historical site can discover everything there is to know about the reformer and his family. Melanchthon’s herb garden, situated behind the house, is a special highlight; it was restored based on historic models and is now an exquisite place to while away the time.
At the Castle Church, which was built starting in 1489 and consecrated in 1503, Philipp Melanchthon gave his inaugural lecture. Legend has it that Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the main door of the Castle Church, ushering in the Reformation. Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon are still buried in the church. Another highlight is the bronze epitaphs to Frederick the Wise and his brother Johann the Steadfast from the Vischer workshop in Nuremberg. Visitors can explore this history-steeped location independently or accompanied by an expert tour guide.
In the St. Marien town church, Martin Luther preached and Johannes Bugenhagen ministered as the first evangelical pastor of the town. This is where the tradition of Protestant church services held in German began, with congregational singing and the Eucharist in both forms (bread and wine). As a result, Wittenberg town church is also known as the mother church of the Reformation. It is also an art treasury with a whole host of works from the workshop of Lucas Cranach the Older and Lucas Cranach the Younger.
To commemorate the importance of the Reformation in world history, UNESCO recognized the Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg as part of mankind’s cultural heritage.