Martin Luther came up against hostile opposition from all sides. Bishops and other church dignitaries were not alone in fighting against his reforms; secular leaders also saw his mission as an outrageous act of defiance. Our fourth route highlights some of the most important sites where Luther fought his battles – and was ultimately able to win through.
In Leipzig, Luther had to undergo a great test of strength at the Leipzig Disputation in 1519, defending himself before the Catholic theologian Johannes Eck. The differences between the Catholic and reformed teachings seemed greater than ever and even though the Disputation came to an inconclusive end, it still led to Luther’s excommunication by Rome. It was only many years later, in 1539, that Luther was able to preach again in Leipzig, at the famous St. Thomas Church.
Along with Wittenberg, where Luther nailed his theses to the door of the castle church, Torgau was the political centre of the Reformation; it is no coincidence that the first Protestant church was built here. In Mühlberg, not far from Torgau, 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.
The indulgence preacher Johann Teztel was working in Jüterbog in 1517, and his activities are considered today to be the catalyst for the posting of Luther's theses. In 1519 the town was the site of the ‘Jüterbog pulpit dispute' involving Thomas Müntzer and Franciscans from Jüterbog, and it was here that the electors, assisted by Melanchthon, negotiated the implementation of the Augsburg Interim. You can relive this chapter in history at the Monastery Museum, at St. Nicholas Church or on the Luther-Tetzel Trail between Jüterbog and Wittenberg.
Katharina von Bora, Luther’s wife, spent her childhood and youth at Nimbschen Abbey near Grimma, which is now a ruin, but still well worth a visit. Our route comes to a fitting end in Dresden, home to the Church of Our Lady, the largest Protestant domed building in Europe.
A magnificent statue of Luther stands outside the church, and it is also well worth paying a visit to the Neustadt district to see the neo-Gothic Martin Luther Church. The must-see attraction is the famous Green Vault, not least because Luther’s signet ring and goblet form part of the collection held here.
Dresden is renowned for its beauty, museums, Dresden Christstollen, and of course, the Dresden Kreuzchor boys’ choir, one of the oldest boys’ choirs in Germany and even Europe. The Church of the Holy Cross (Kreuzkirche) has been its artistic home for over 700 years. Since it graced the first Protestant service with its singing in 1739, church services, vespers and Kreuzchor concerts are a firm event on Dresden’s cultural calendar.
Distance: around 400 km
Starting point: Leipzig
Waypoints: Leipzig, Wittenberg, Jüterbog, Torgau, Mühlberg, Grimma, Lisnig, Rochlitz, Zwickau, Dresden
Airports: Leipzig-Halle, Dresden
ICE train stations: Leipzig, Wittenberg, Dresden
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