Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg: The Birthplace of Protestantism

The Wittenberg Castle Church where Luther posted his 95 Theses

The small towns of Wittenberg and Eisleben have achieved universal fame, not for their wealth of monuments, but for having been the scene of one of the most important events in history: the birth of Protestantism led by Martin Luther. The houses in which Luther was born and died in Eisleben illustrate his way of life and those of his contemporaries. The houses of the reformer and his disciple Melanchthon in Wittenberg, as well as the town church and castle, have for centuries become important centers of pilgrimage.

Due to the richness of its copper and silver mines, Hans Luder, the reformer's father, moved to Eisleben in 1483. On November 10 of that year, Martin Luther was born. After studying philosophy, he entered the Augustinian order in 1505. In 1510 he was assigned to Wittenberg, where he became a professor of biblical studies at the university. On October 31, 1517 he set the Reformation in motion by hanging his famous 95 Theses on the north portico of the Wittenberg church.

He was excommunicated and expelled from the empire in 1521, but Frederick of Saxony granted him his protection by taking him into his castle in Wartburg. In March 1522 he returned as a preacher to Wittenberg where, with the help of his disciple Philip Melanchon, he continued his Reformation. In October 1525 he said mass for the first time in German instead of Latin. That same year he broke his monastic vows and married Catherine von Bora, who had been a nun. Their home became from then on the center of the Reformers all over Europe. Luther returned to Eisleben, his hometown, on January 28, 1546 and stayed at a friend's house. His health deteriorated alarmingly during his stay and although he continued his activity, he died on February 21 in the same town where he was born.

"Luther And Melanchthon" by Lucas Cranach (II)

Six different monuments have been declared World Heritage Sites. Luther's birth house in Eisleben on Lutter Strasse (formerly Lange Gasse) is one of the oldest houses in Eisleben, dating from the 15th century, and is topped by a steeply pitched roof. The original first floor has been preserved. A fire destroyed the upper floor and once rebuilt it is today the Splendid Gallery. 

Numerous elements reminiscent of the reformer have been preserved inside. The house in which Luther died in Eisleben, south of St. Andrew's Church, is a classic two-story house with an annex building and a spiral staircase between the two. The mansion was neither destroyed nor renovated, so it is preserved as it was at the death of Luther, who died in the largest room of the house overlooking the street, decorated with an impressive ceiling.

Luther Hall in Wittenberg is located at the rear of a group of buildings nestled on the edge of the old city and known as the Augusteum. The three-story building is part of a monastery built in the 16th century. The rooms on the upper floor were the ones where Luther lived, and some of the furniture from his time is preserved in the building. The building houses important archives of the Reformation. Melanchthon's house in Wittenberg is located on Collegienstrasse, one of the two main streets of the old city and is in Renaissance style, built in 1536. Melanchthon's office is preserved on the second floor. 

Luther's Hall in Wittenberg

Finally, there is the church of the old town of Wittenberg, located near Market Square and dedicated to St. Mary. It is in late Gothic style, with two massive towers dominating the cityscape, and the Church of Wittenberg Castle. Although the castle has deteriorated, the church remains practically in the same state in which Luther knew it. It is entered through the west door, because of its symbolic importance, the north door, the famous door where the reformer hung his 95 Theses, is only used on important occasions.

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