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Francke Foundation Buildings

Date of Submission: 20/09/1999
Criteria: (iii)(iv)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Saxony-Anhalt State Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments
State, Province or Region:
Saxony-Anhalt, Halle
Coordinates: N5128 45 E11 58 25
Ref.: 1368

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The Franck Foundations in Halle are one of the most important architectural monuments in Germany from the period of Pietism and the early Enlightenment. August Herrmann Francke was a congregational pastor and theology professor who was deeply imbued with the religious conceptions of Pietism that stated that on should live out one's own inner piety in direct connection with the an active love for one's neighbour. At the same time, he was touched by the poverty surrounding him. In 1695, he began to erect a school for the poor with the seven gilders that have since become famous. Supported by generous foundations and donations and granted far-reaching privileges, he was able to unfold his plan for a comprehensive educational institution within a period of a few years. By the middle of the 1 8di century, a complex made of teaching, living and working quarters sprang up which was extensively a "school city" where there were approximately 3,000 teachers and learners in the year of Francke's death of 1727. The buildings and gardens that gave the Franck Foundations their unmistakable image were built after one another starting from the main building in an eastern and southern direction. They were essentially finished in 1748. The main building forms the dominant urban development and architectural element of the entire installation. The viewing and teaching collection of natural history specimens begun by Franke has been maintained in the inside to the present day at the historical place and with its baroque furnishings. Two rows of houses parallel to one another connect up with the main building and have an inner court 250 meters long that is decorated with a boulevard of lime trees. The four- to five-storey houses set up in a practical manner offer an impressive overall image in their sober and austere architecture. The structure and the division of the southern wing with its dining hall (for 400 persons) and the assembly and singing hal1 above it (for 2,000 persons), the "English House" connected directly to it as well as the "Old Magdelein House" have been preserved to a great extent. "Cannstein's Bible Institute", the main library as well as what is known as the "Dining House" follow separated by a carriage path. The main library, founded in 1698 and built from massive construction materials from 1725 to 1728, is a speciality with its bibliophile treasures and the interior preserved as it was originally. It has been looked upon as the oldest free-standing library building since the Wolfenbuttel Library, which was two decades older, was pulled down. The volumes numbering more than 100,000 come primarily from the 16~ to 18~ century. Many of the books may be considered unique specimens today. What is known as the "Eagle Building", the "New Magdelein House" and the "Long House" form the northern wing of the Lindenhof. At approximately 125 meters long and with its five floors, the "Long House" is probably the largest half-timbered building in central Germany. The Lindenhof is concluded in the east by the Padagogium. In 1702, Francke received the royal privilege of conducting a public institute, the "Royal Padagogium", from Frederick I of Prussia. Of this complex of buildings, the long boarding school wing laid out in the west-easterly direction has been preserved in the original. The original transverse building corresponded in its structure to the main building in its orientation and layout and it was replaced by a red-brick building in the middle of the 19th century. A monument was erected to August Herrmann Francke within the Lindenhof in front of the Padagogium in 1829. Christian Daniel Rauch created this group of figures and the pedestal goes back to a dratt by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Another complex of buildings where there are mainly working quarters is south of a street leading in the easterly direction from the main gate. Francke's residence, where he lived from 1702 to 1710, is directly at the gate.

The Franck Foundations advanced to being a place of pedagogical innovations and a world-famous educational institution that thousands of students streamed to from a number of countries. A variety of teaching institutes offered the appropriate educational opportunities to all social classes in accordance with Francke's ideas. The foundation, together with the work of important representatives of the Enlightenment at the University of Halle, provided important religious, church, cultural and scientific stimulus, thus forming the basis for Halle's reputation as a European seat of learning of the highest order in the first half of the 18~ century. We should also mention the aura that Francke's work emanated throughout the world' which was equally as important as the pedagogical aspect. Russia, southern Italy and North America were the territories that he maintained the most intensive contacts to through his lively exchange of idea with like-minded persons and graduates beyond broad areas of Europe. The necessity and possibility of doing studies in the history of culture, philology and natural science and developing far-reaching trade relations (exporting books and medicines) developed out of his main concern of spreading the body of Pietistic thought. The basis and point of departure for Francke's system of beliefs and his strategy for action are the Pietistic thoughts as they were formulated by v.a. Phillip Jacob Speer before him. However, Francke carried these beginnings further, however in his own version and linked this inner conviction with his work to the most consistent and far-reaching degree. We may look upon the way that he put Pietistic beliefs into practice with his own charitable actions as the main characteristic of Francke's work. "Halle Pietism" achieved world-wide fame as a intellectually and spiritually innovative movement and it took on physical shape in the Franck Foundations in Halle. The Franck Foundations will continue to exist as the founder intended for a long period of time by attracting various pedagogical and scientific institutions.

Comparison with other similar properties

The Francke Foundation Buildings are linked with many places in the whole world where Francke's collaborators disseminated his ideas as missionaries.