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Lutherstadt Wittenberg

 

Lutherstadt Wittenberg, the former residence and university town of Saxony, was due to the work of Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchthon and others, the cradle of the Reformation, which began there with Luther's 95 theses in 1517. The largely undestroyed city in Saxony-Anhalt can still come up with the city church, the castle church with theses door, the Lutherhaus, the Melanchthonhaus, Cranachhöfe and other buildings with original scenes of the life and work of the reformers. The sites of the Reformation are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

 

Wittenberg, strategically located on a crossing of the Elbe, has been the residential city of the dukes and electors of Saxony-Wittenberg since the 13th century. This title passed to the House of Wettin in 1422 when the Saxon Ascanians died out. As the residence of one of seven electors in the Holy Roman Empire, Wittenberg, supported by a university, was in a prominent position, comparable in status to Heidelberg and Prague. Even after the partition of Saxony, Wittenberg remained the residence of the Ernestine princes who held the electoral dignity.

Against this background, the theses of the Wittenberg theology professor Martin Luther against the sale of indulgences and the splendor of the Roman Church had weight. Under the protective hand of Elector Friedrich the Wise, the Reformation, which began as an academic dispute, was able to spread across Germany. The golden years of Wittenberg followed: the university where Luther and Melanchthon taught, registered enormous popularity - almost every second student in Germany at the time also studied in Wittenberg. The city was buzzing because the students brought a lot of money into the city. Book printing and publishing flourished, the patrician and painter family Cranach supplied the young Protestant church with paintings.

The loss of the electoral dignity to the cousins ​​of the Albertine line of the Wettins in Dresden in 1547 ushered in the gradual decline of the city and university, at the beginning of the 17th century the Thirty Years' War did the rest. Wittenberg also lost its leading position scientifically. In the Seven Years' War (1756–1763), Wittenberg was initially conquered by Prussian troops. After several days of siege in October 1760, Wittenberg was captured by the Imperial Army, the army of the Reichstag of the Holy Roman Empire. The damage caused by this siege, which was associated with massive fire, was to remain the worst war damage in Wittenberg to this day. For example, the castle with the castle church and the original thesis door were lost.

On Napoleon's I order, the city was restored as a fortress in 1813 under Marshal Victor. Blocked by Lieutenant General von Kleist's corps from March 26th to April 20th, it was surrounded by Bülow's corps after the battle of Dennewitz (September 6th) and stormed in the night of January 12th to 13th, 1814. It later developed into an industrial location. Lutherstadt Wittenberg is today the district town of the district of the same name. The Luther memorials have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.