Town Church

The Town and Parish Church St. Mary´s in Lutherstadt Wittenberg is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was in this church, the oldest building in town, that the message of the Reformation started. Here is where Martin Luther preached and where the Reformation altar by the painter Lucas Cranach the Elder can be seen. Here is also where Johannes Bugenhagen implemented the reformational changes in the church.

The Town and Parish Church St Mary´s is also closely connected with the reformational changes in Wittenberg. Even today the church looks almost the same as it did when Luther began his professorship at the Wittenberg university in 1512. Visitors entering the from the west will immediately see the altar on the sanctuary. This altar painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) in 1547 is a special witness of the Reformation period. It is referred to as the Reformation altar. Its well preserved four paintings are the foundations of the protestant congregation life and reformed church. Of special interest is that inhabitants of Wittenberg are pictured- Philipp Melanchthon at the baptism, Luther as Knight George Johannes Bugenhagen in a public confessional, Cranach the Elder and Katharina von Bora as congregation members and Luther preaching. A number of valuable epitaphs from Lucas Cranach the Younger (1515-1586) and the oldest artifact in the church, the baptismal made by Hermann Vischer from Nuernburg in 1457, can also be seen on the sanctuary. The art work on the baptismal depicts the meaning of baptism.

For many years, the vestry, next to the sanctuary, has exhibited contemporary art. On its west side is a very old sandstone relief. „The World Judge“ is an impressive witness to the theological piety of the pre-Reformation.

The back of the church is decorated with the organ. It was consecrated in 1983 during Pentecost on Martin Luther´s 500th birthday. Countless church concerts have delighted parishioners and visitors. The pulpit from which Luther preached can be seen at the Luther House just a 10 minute walk from the Town Church. During renovation work in 1811, the old pulpit was taken out and replaced by a neo-gothic pulpit.

Even today many centuries of building history are visible in the various construction stages. The current sanctuary dates back to the late 13th century. In the 14th century the late gothic three-aisle structure and the double steeples were added. The steeples present on the church today date back to 1556-1557.

Of special interest is the keystone vault in the sanctuary and the head-corbels in the main nave in part accredited to the Naumburger master´s school.

Masonry work is also found outside on the south corner of the church where the Jewish sow can be seen. In 1988 a  memorial sculpture was placed at the foot of the  sculpture.

(Text: translated from the German text written by Superintendent i.R. Albrecht Steinwachs)