Friday, May 31, 2013

Wittenberg, Germany

The Streets of Wittenberg Looking towards All Saints Church
Wittenberg, Germany was holds historical importance due to its seat of the Elector of Saxony, but is probably more well known because of its ties to Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation.  Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the doors of the All Saints Church, also known as "The Castle Church" (or Schlosskirche).

The wooden doors where Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses were burned in 1760 and were replaced by bronze doors bearing the Latin text of the theses in 1858.
The Schlosskirche was seriously damaged by fire in 1760 during the 7 years war.  It was practically rebuilt and later restored.  When we visited, the Schlosskirche was being cleaned and restored.  From our observation, many of the old buildings in Europe are constantly being cleaned and restored and are often surrounded by scaffolding, which makes it tough to get a clean photo!

The Schlosskirche, currently in a phase of restoration
Wittenberg (pronounced Vittenberg) is about an hour and half southwest of Berlin.  The old city center consists of two small streets lined with old buildings, the old town square, the Schlosskirche and St. Mary's Church, where Luther often preached.  This was our first stop outside of Berlin, and it was like walking into the past.  We would experience this feeling several more times throughout our trip, until it almost became normal.

Streets of Wittenberg
St. Mary's Church (Stadtkirche) was built in the 14th century but has been altered since.  Reformers, Martin Luther and Johannes Bugenhagen preached here, and the first mass in German rather than Latin occurred here.  The Stadtkirche is considered the mother-church of the protestant reformation.

Stadtkirche from the side
The Stadtkirche faces a wall, about 15 ft away, making it nearly impossible to see the entire face of the building.

Inside the Statkirche
Unlike many other towns in Germany, the city center of Wittenberg was spared during WWII.  As the story goes, the Allied forces agreed not to bomb Wittenberg.  In actuality, it was an aircraft factory on the outskirts of Wittenberg staffed by political prisoners that the Allies didn't want to bomb.  Near the end of the war, American and British planes did bomb the factory.

Wittenberg City Hall
Wittenberg Town Square
After the war, Wittenberg was occupied by the Soviets and became part of East Germany.  It was ruled under the communist regime until the peaceful revolution in 1989.  It has been governed democratically since 1990.

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