Magdeburg Cathedral at nightfall
Magdeburg Cathedral at nightfall ©Magdeburg Marketing Kongress und Tourismus GmbH (Mario Tomiak)
Spiritual travel from A to Z

Magdeburg Cathedral – where the age of the Reformation began

It has been the emblem of the city for more than 800 years: Magdeburg Cathedral, a silent witness to centuries of major events and church history. Despite the fact that Martin Luther was once refused entry to this house of God, the age of the Reformation began here. The Monday demonstrations of 1989, a series of peaceful protests, were also held here...

This is where Otto I the Great began to implement his brilliant idea: converting the east to Christianity. A Benedictine monastery that he commissioned in 937 on Cathedral Hill in Magdeburg, in addition to the first Ottonian cathedral, confirmed his mission. An octagonal porphyry fountain base, which is still used as a baptismal font today, bore witness to these major events of the past. The present-day cathedral, the first Gothic cathedral to be built on German soil, dates back to 1207. It has survived the turbulent times following the Reformation, which involved looting and destruction and the loss of most of the wooden works of art, in particular the altarpieces for the cathedral's 46 side altars.

It became a cattle shed, warehouse and armoury during the Napoleonic Wars, and was heavily damaged during World War II. The burial site of Otto the Great, founder of the Kingdom of Germany within the Holy Roman Empire, who is laid to rest here with his wife, and the "Magdeburg cenotaph", Ernst Barlach's famous sculpture to commemorate those who perished in World War I, are evocative of important historic events in this monumental yet unostentatious cathedral. The cathedral converted to Protestantism in 1567 and is currently the seat of the Evangelical bishop. It is a place of protest yet broadening awareness, caught between new beginnings and mortality.

Magdeburg Cathedral

Opening hours: May to September: 10am to 6pm; October: 10am to 5pm; November to March: 10am to 4pm, April: 10am to 5pm; Sundays and religious holidays: open from 11:30am

Entry: free

Nearest train station: Hanover or Braunschweig

Monday to Friday, 12pm: midday prayers; every Thursday at 6pm: interfaith prayer for peace; tours of the cathedral and tower, including night tours and children's tours, available (for a fee). For more information (in German), visit:

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