Germany’s Luther Routes – Politics and Rebellion

July 25, 2016

Martin Luther is now forever linked with the reformation of the church in Europe, having been intimately implicated with the growth of Protestantism and rejection of the medieval Catholic Church across western Europe and Scandinavia, but especially in Germany.

The reformation of the church across Europe was huge, and the impact is still felt today. You can find tangible examples of Luther’s influence in many unusual places around Germany, as well as the obvious locations such as Wittenberg, where Luther lived for long periods.

Germany is home to 8 tourist routes which tell the story of Martin Luther’s life, as well as the theological and religious impact he had across the country. This latest route focuses on his politics and the rebellion he helped play a large part in.

There’s no better place to start this tour than in Leipzig, which was the site of the Leipzig Disputation, a fierce debate between Martin Luther and Johann Eck, a highly respected member of the Catholic Church. The debate finished without a real conclusion, which lead to Luther’s excommunication from Rome. After that, it wasn’t until 1539 when he was able to preach in Leipzig’s St Thomas’ Church again.

Next is Wittenberg, where Luther pinned his theses to the doors of All Saints Church, perhaps the most famous act of rebellion in the Lutheran reformations. The legacy of the event is felt throughout the city, with the area now being considered a cradle of the Reformation, and referred to as Lutherstadt Wittenberg.

Johann Teztel working on his religious theories in Jüterbog in 1517 is considered by many to be the catalyst for Luther’s theories. Head to the Monastery Museum to learn about the Jüterbog Pulpit Dispute, a dramatic event which had a huge effect on the reformation.

Aside from Wittenberg, Torgau was the political centre of the Reformation. It is no coincidence that the first Protestant church in Germany was built here. Nearby in Mühlberg too, the reformation Museum at Marienstern Abbey commemorates the defeat suffered by the reformed Schmalkaldic League at the hands of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V’s army in 1547.

Visit the ruined remains of Nimbschen Abbey, near Grimma, where Luther’s wife Katharina Von Bora spent most of her childhood for a glimpse of the humble surroundings where she grew up. Alternatively, the exhibition “Reform and Revolution: Forging New Paths” at the Max Pechstein Museum in Zwickau is on display for the rest of 2016 and tells the story of the reformation and those who helped push it through.

Finally, this route ends in Dresden, at the Church of Our Lady, the largest Protestant domed building in Europe. There is a striking statue of Luther outside the church. Finally, head to the Neustadt district to see the neo-Gothic Martin Luther Church with its Green Vault, which houses Luther’s signet ring and goblet.



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