Fragrant garden landscapes, historic cities, architectural milestones - the cultural heritage in Saxony-Anhalt is large and diverse. With no fewer than five UNESCO World Heritage sites, the state is one of the regions with the highest density of places that are significant for humanity's cultural and natural heritage. The Luther cities Eisleben and Wittenberg, the Bauhaus Dessau, Quedlinburg with its historic old town and castle, the cathedral in Naumburg and the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz have been certified with the coveted UNESCO title. We present three of them on this page.
In the autumn of the year 1517 began in the beautiful City of Wittenberg in eastern Saxony-Anhalt, a movement of historic significance. On October 31, Martin Luther (1483-1546), who lived in Wittenberg as a monk, preacher and university professor of biblical studies, posted his 95 theses against the sale of indulgences on the portal of the castle church. This marked the beginning of the Reformation, the traces of which are still visible 500 years later. Hardly any area of life in society remained untouched by it, whether church, language, economy or culture.
Who the Lutherstadt Wittenberg today can easily follow in the footsteps of the reformer. UNESCO has recognized several memorials on site as cultural heritage of humanity. Starting with the Luther House, where the reformer once lived and worked for 35 years - today it is the largest museum of Reformation history in the world. In the beautiful residence of Philipp Melanchthon, once Luther's most important collaborator, the scholar's study and death rooms are recreated. In addition to the castle church, the most important stops include St. Marien, Luther's place of preaching since 1514 - in this "mother church of the Reformation" Holy Mass was celebrated in German for the first time.
The second Luther town in Saxony-Anhalt on the UNESCO World Heritage List is Eisleben in the eastern foothills of the Harz Mountains, where the reformer was born and also died. The house where he was born now features historic furniture commemorating life in the Middle Ages, and an exhibition in the house where he died commemorates the churchman's last days. Martin Luther is also honored by sculptures in the marketplaces of Eisleben and Wittenberg - in the restaurant "Wittenberger Hof" guests can also dine as in Luther's time. More info can be found here.
The Bauhaus School of Design, Art and Architecture is famous the world over; internationally, it is considered Germany's most successful cultural export of the 20th century, no more and no less. After its founding in Weimar, the school moved to Dessau in 1925 - since then, the city in southeastern Saxony-Anhalt has been most strongly associated with the Bauhaus. No wonder: nowhere else can so much Bauhaus architecture be discovered in such a small area, and it can still be seen today.
As the "cradle of classical modernism," the school has written style history like no other. Practical, shapely, straightforward: these characteristics are now firmly associated with the Bauhaus style. It struck a chord with the times; worldwide, interest in the "New Building" with its simple cubic forms was high in the 1920s and 1930s. And Dessau was the hotspot of all activities. All three Bauhaus directors - Walter Gropius, Hannes Meyer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe - lived and worked there, and from there the style spread all over the world, from Rotterdam to Tel Aviv.
UNESCO has long since recognized the importance of the school. Since 1996, Saxony-Anhalt's most important Bauhaus sites have been registered as World Heritage Sites. These include the Dessau Bauhaus building, which was once built as a schoolhouse according to plans by Walter Gropius and is considered an icon of modernism, or the portico houses on site. Every year, tens of thousands of curious visitors come to the state to see the original buildings. Incidentally, the legendary university was closed in 1933 after only 14 years - in this short time it has left tremendous traces. Read more here.
Dense forests, fragrant flowers, wide meadows, plus lakes, rivers and bridges, castles and temples: the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz has been delighting its visitors for more than 200 years. Saxony-Anhalt's most important cultural landscape is located in the Middle Elbe Biosphere Reserve and today covers an area of 142 km². The site has been designated by UNESCO as an "outstanding example of the implementation of philosophical principles of the Enlightenment in a landscape design that harmoniously combines art, education and economy" - and has consequently been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.
The core of the Garden Kingdom is the Wörlitz Gardens. The foundation stone was laid in 1765 by Prince Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau. He and his architect Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff were inspired by numerous travels, and from then on planned the first landscape park on the English model on the European continent, as an image of a modern state and an enlightened way of thinking. The beautiful should be useful. During his 50-year reign, Prince Franz had magnificent palaces and parks built, connected by avenues, dykes and fruit plantations.
What awaits the visitor today? Wörlitz Park, whose paths and meadows are lined with orchards - guests can experience the unique grounds from a gondola. The rococo Mosigkau Castle, described as a small Sanssouci, full of paintings by Flemish and Dutch masters. The Sieglitz Park, the Gothic House, Oranienbaum Palace and the Luisium, once the private retreat of the princess. And always and above all, the vast green spaces around enchant - home to rare animals and plants in the heart of Saxony-Anhalt for over 200 years. More information is available here.
Cover photo: Milestone in history - the castle church in Lutherstadt Wittenberg © Michael Bader
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