Wittenberg: the Birthplace of the Protestant Reformation

Those looking to visit a city rich with religious history should certainly visit the charming town of Wittenberg, Germany – a gem to historians and religious scholars. The quaint town stands as a critical milestone in the history of Christianity. Wittenberg was home to Martin Luther, the man responsible for starting the Protestant Reformation, and most travelers in Wittenberg come to see his legacy.

All visitors in Wittenberg must take time to see the church, known as the Schlosskirche (the Castle Church), where in 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the massive doors of the church. These theses included his arguments against the Catholic Church, which triggered the Protestant Reformation. Visitors can see the doors, now in bronze, with the 95 theses written in Latin.

The Schlosskirche of Wittenberg is quite possibly one of the most important churches in the history of Christianity. Construction of the church began in 1490, headed by architect Claus Roder. The first phase of building included the large tower, the central wing and the two stair towers. By 1502 the external walls and buttresses were finished. The church was actually built during the transition from the Gothic to the Renaissance period – meaning you’ll find details from both eras added to the beautiful structure. Many details of the church scream a traditional Gothic appeal, such as the ceiling vaults and the windows, but some of the other elements reflect the Renaissance style. The ceilings and walls of the church are ornately carved, painted and gilded. Paintings adorn the rooms and fireplaces made of hewn stone decorate the interior of the church. The interior was first designed to be more Gothic in style, plain with large windows separated by buttresses. But as the construction of the church progressed, the interior became more and more ornate, reflecting the style of the new Renaissance period.

Admission to the church is 3 Euros. The church can be visited from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Those who enjoy organ concerts should be sure to attend on a Tuesday for the weekly organ performance.

Visitors should take the time to explore the rest of the city in further detail. Look at the carefully restored and cared-for medieval buildings and appreciate a city that has not been bombarded by fast food, shopping malls and modern culture. Visit the city church, known as the Stadtkirche, to see an example of another medieval church. Notice the Judensau (Jewish sow) on the roof of the church. Martin Luther had this derogatory statue placed there to warn Jewish people of what he believed were sins. Seeing this church provides great insight into the progression of German culture over hundreds of years.

Wittenberg is well-known to Germans for its medieval and cultural events. Visitors would be wise to try to attend the city during one of its cultural festivals or markets. Specifically, the Wittenberg Reformation Festival is well-known for music, theater and the market that sells foods and goods created exactly as they were hundreds of years ago. I have been to this festival twice and each time had myself a ball! Locals dress in traditional medieval clothing and the entire town literally transforms. Be sure to check out the goods sold at the market. You’ll find jewelry, cutlery, wooden figurines and other collectibles from your trip to Germany. Other notable times to visit are for the Christmas Market in November and December, and the reenactment of Martin Luther’s wedding during the summer.

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