These places in Saxony-Anhalt are all associated with the lives of Martin Luther and his fellow-reformer Melanchthon. They include Melanchthon's house in Wittenberg, the houses in Eisleben where Luther was born in 1483 and died in 1546, his room in Wittenberg, the local church and the castle church where, on 31 October 1517, Luther posted his famous '95 Theses', which launched the Reformation and a new era in the religious and political history of the Western world.
Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg
Justification for Inscription
The Committee decided to inscribe the nominated property on the basis of criteria (iv) and (vi), considering that it is of outstanding universal value 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 constitutes outstanding examples of 19th century historicism. The Committee congratulated the German authorities on this nomination and considered that its symbolic value clearly justifies inscription under cultural criterion (vi).
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.
In the 15tn and 16th centuries Eisleben owed its great prosperity to copper and Silver mining, and this drew Hans Luder, father of the Reformer, there in 1483, to settle in the Petriviertel district. Martin Luther was born 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 until1510 when, following a visit to Rome, he transferred to the newly built Augustinian monastery at Wittenberg, where he also held the chair of Bible studies at the university. He lived in a cell in the southwestern part of the monastery, in a tower-like annex projecting over the town wall, and it was here that he began his study of the Epistles of St Paul in 1515. 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. They were intended as an appeal to scholars to exchange opinions on the vexed question of indulgences, and resulted from his long study of human guilt, repentance, and possible absolution, which had been the subject of numerous sermons over the preceding two years from the pulpit of the Town Church, where he had been the preacher since 1514 (and where he was to remain in the same post for the rest of his life).
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 his translation of the Bible into German. He returned to Wittenberg in March 1522, where his duties as preacher at the Town Church had been taken over by the radical reformer Andreas Bodenstein, known as Karlstadt. Karlstadt, unlike Luther, did not eschew violence and encouraged the disruption of church services. Luther's leading disciple, Philip Melanchthon, called the Reformer back to Wittenberg, where he restored the policy of non-violence in his famous invocative sermons. He followed these up with a long series of sermons devoted to his beliefs. A crucial event was the installation of Johannes Bugenhagen, one of Luther's supporters, as parish priest of Wittenberg in 1523, elected not by the Chapter of the All Saints' Foundation as was customary, but by the parish and the town council "according to St Paul's evangelical teaching." Luther devoted himself to the replacement of the Latin Mass by a version in the vernacular, and his German Mass, first used in October 1525 in the Town Church, is still in use today.
1525 was also the year of another decisive gesture on Luther's part, when he broke finally with his monastic vows and married the former nun, Katharina von Bora. They continued to live in the monastery, which had been dissolved following an assembly of German Augustinians in 1522 who declared themselves in favour of the principles of Evangelical freedom. Luther's household became the centre for reformists from all over Europe, and the family room that he created on the first floor of the building (now known as Luther's Room) was the setting for his •table talks," which were later to be published.
From this time onwards Luther devoted himself to the organization of the Evangelical parishes and their administration, taking the situation in Wittenberg as a model that has survived to the present day. Visitations were introduced to determine the size and number of parishes and their income. With the abolition of the consecration of priests, a method of examination and inauguration of clergymen was developed, the first ordinations being carried out by Luther in the Town Church in October 1535. He was also tireless in evolving the theology and liturgy for the new institution. The statutes of the Lutheran Church, the so-called Augsburg confession, were published in 1530, edited by Melanchthon.
Luther returned to the town of his birth, Eisleben, on 28 January 1546 to assist in an arbitration, and he took lodgings in the house of his friend Dr Drachstedt. His health deteriorated alarmingly while he was there, but he remained active until the end: only three days before his death on 18 February he preached a sermon at St Andrew's Church and ordained two clergymen. After lying in state in the church throughout the following day, his body was conveyed in solemn procession via Halle to Wittenberg, where it was laid to rest on 22 February
Source: Advisory Body Evaluation