No other region of Germany is as closely connected to the Reformation as the area now known as the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt. In fact, Saxony-Anhalt boasts more highlights bearing witness to the life and work of Martin Luther and more authentic key locations of the Reformation than any other part of Germany.
The Reformer was born in Eisleben, which is now known as Lutherstadt Eisleben, a ‘Luther town’, in 1483 and gave his last sermon in the town before dying there in 1546. He spent his childhood in Mansfeld and then moved to Wittenberg, where he lived and worked as a professor of theology.
On 31st October 1517, he posted his Ninety-Five Theses against the abuse of indulgences and by doing so, changed the inherent foundations of the world order. Luther nailed his theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle Church and his action at that time is still a strong symbol of the start of the Reformation today. The Luther memorial sites in the towns of Wittenberg and Eisleben have been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 1996.
In 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation will be celebrated throughout Germany. In perfect timing with this grand anniversary, Wittenberg Castle Church has now undergone extensive restoration work so that visitors can experience it in its original form together with the adjacent castle. The official reopening of the ensemble of buildings is planned to take place on 2nd October 2016.
At the Lutherhaus, the largest museum focusing on the history of the Reformation in the world, the Luther Memorials Foundation will present the National Special Exhibition “Luther! 95 Treasures – 95 People” from 13th May to 5th November 2017. The exhibition will showcase important personal belongings of Martin Luther and objects that bear witness to the historical influence and impact of the Reformation. Its extensive selection of exhibits will also feature items on loan from national and international collections.
The 360-degree panorama “Luther 1517” by the well-known artist Yadegar Asisi is sure to be a great experience for the whole family. In a rotunda constructed in the heart of Wittenberg’s old town centre for this purpose, Asisi will bring the Reformation period and its main protagonists to life in a gigantic panoramic image. Visitors to the walk-in panorama, which will extend over several floors, can look forward to gaining a special and vivid insight into an event that changed the world.
The different locations of the Reformation in Saxony-Anhalt are also connected by the Luther Trail. This pilgrimage trail covers a distance of 410km and leads visitors to the locations used by Martin Luther and a number of stunning sites in terms of cultural history connected to the Reformation.
Back in the Middle Ages, Magdeburg, the capital city of Saxony-Anhalt, was one of the largest cities in Europe and an important centre of the Reformation.
The “Against the Emperor and the Pope” exhibition held by the Magdeburg Cultural History Museum features a number of original records and a multitude of paintings, works of art and everyday objects that provide an insight into the fierce conflicts over faith, power and justice that took place in Magdeburg, the proverbial “stronghold of German Protestantism”.
Visitors to Saxony-Anhalt in 2017 can not only look forward to experiencing authentic buildings, objects and locations that are closely connected to the life and work of Martin Luther and the Reformation, but also to enjoying a diverse programme of exhibitions, concerts, celebrations and conferences.
Event Highlights (selection)
Official Reopening of Wittenberg Castle Church 2.10.2016, Lutherstadt Wittenberg
Reformation Festival, 31.10.2016 (held annually), Lutherstadt Wittenberg
Luther’s Birthday Celebration, 11.11. – 12.11.2016 (held annually), Lutherstadt Eisleben
“Luther 1517” Panorama by Yadegar Asisi, Opening planned to take place in autumn 2016 in Lutherstadt Wittenberg
National Special Exhibition: Luther! 95 People – 95 Treasures 13.5. – 5.11.2017, Augusteum/Lutherhaus, Lutherstadt Wittenberg
Knowledge Bank of the Reformation 31.10.2016 – 28.2.2017, a special exhibition at the Historic Orphanage/Francke Foundations, Halle (Saale)
Against the Emperor and the Pope – Magdeburg and the Reformation 3.9.2017 – 28.1.2018, a special exhibition at Magdeburg Cultural History Museum
Dialogue of Confessions – Bishop Julius Pflug and the Reformation 5.6. – 1.11.2017, a special exhibition at Moritzburg Castle, Zeitz
36th German Protestant Church Assembly with a celebratory church service in Lutherstadt Wittenberg 24.5. – 28.5.2017, Berlin / Lutherstadt Wittenberg
Zerbst Procession 8.9. – 10.9.2017, Zerbst
13th International Congress for Luther Research – 1517. Luther between Tradition and Renewal 30.7. – 4.8.2017, Leucorea Foundation, Lutherstadt Wittenberg
Heinrich Schütz Music Festival – Out of Love for the Truth 6.10. – 15.10.2017, Weißenfels