Martin Luther stayed here in 1529, and quite enjoyed his time by all accounts. It was here that he disputed core issues of Christianity, like the Blood of Christ as symbolism and the morality of polygamy (Martin Luther determined it was moral). The castle has hardly changed since.
It was originally built back in the foggy forgotten years of the 11th century, but the development of the castle as it looks now began when it was taken over by Princess Elizabeth of Hungary a couple of centuries later. These were the Landgraves of Hesse, the state's royalty.
Marburg's Lutheran Church of St. Mary's is an icon of the town. Viewed from below, above or in the old town, it stands out. It was built at the end of the 13th century by the Teutonic Order, but the oldest remaining section of the church is the Gothic sanctuary.
According to legend the Town Hall (Rathaus) was built on the very spot where the state of Hesse was founded, back in the 13th century. The beautiful little town hall was built a few centuries later, with the Renaissance tower and clock being added in 1561. It was the seat of government until modern times.
The Marktplatz is the cafe lined heart of Marburg's old town. In the center is a fountain dedicated to St. Georg, a popular meeting place for students and bus passengers. To the south is the fine old town hall, and the path leading north winds its way up to the palace overlooking the town.
The old town of Marburg is a sight in itself. As long as you are fit you can wander aimlessly though its steep, narrow, cobbled streets and spend an enjoyable stress-free morning or afternoon. You can rest your legs at one of the many excellent bars and cafes, which offer filling, tasty, good value food. Take time to admire the original, ornately decorated half-timbered buildings that line the streets.
Arriving in Marburg by train and walking up to the old town, St. Elizabeth's will be the first sight you see. And it's probably the only significant sight in the lower town. It is an impressive one, however. It's one of the oldest Gothic churches in Germany, and if you've travelled about the region the church might look a bit familiar. That's because it served as a model for Cologne's magnificent cathedral, and for the iconic St. Paul's church in Strasbourg.
The dimensions, originality and build quality of this church, dating back to the 13th century, gives you a very good idea of how important a city Marburg once was.
St. Elizabeth - who was this woman, whose residency, death and burial mark the beginning of history for Hessen? At the age of twelve Elizabeth, daughter of the king of Hungary, married the Thuringian Landgrave Ludwig IV to whom she had been betrothed since earliest childhood. Elizabeth could not accept the pompous royal life, but strived to realise her personal ideals - piety and selfless care of the poor and sick. In 1227 Ludwig dies in Italy on his way to the Holy Land on a Crusade. Without her husband’s sheltering protection hard times befall Elizabeth. She is excluded by the successors, abandons the Wartburg in Eisenach and finally finds refuge on the extreme outskirts of the landgrave’s territory in Marburg. With great vigour and sacrifice she establishes a hospital and distributes her possessions among the poor and sick. She reaches the age of only 24. On November 17th, 1231 she dies in Marburg, where her grave in the Chapel of St. Francis soon draws throngs of pilgrims from near and far. As much as her relatives scorn Elizabeth during her life, after her death they pursue her canonization with equal fervour. Pope, emperor and landgrave agree to it quickly by 1235. In the next year and in the presence of the German emperor the saint’s remains are removed to a golden shrine that today is still among the most elaborate artefacts in the Church of St. Elizabeth. The church is built 1235-1281 by the Teutonic Order over the grave of St. Elizabeth and remains one of the most impressive works of early gothic architecture.
take the lift from Pilgrimstein st which is just next to the tourist information and opposite the welcome hotel and stroll around the old town romantic alleys. it is so nice and charming ; In the market square u can enjoy the cockcrow from top of the city hall every hour while having coffee in the nice cafe there
Rudolphsplatz is the busiest traffic hub in town. Here is where the traffic from the other side of the Lahn meets the main streets at the foot of the Oberstadt hill, Universitätsstraße, Biegenstraße and Pilgrimstein. The square is actually a series of three street triangles, each with traffic lights. Congestions are frequent but this eye of a needle is hard to avoid if you are by car. All bus lines pass here.
Alte Universität is the predominant building. The Dominican monastery that was standing here before was built on the town fortifications. The 19th century university building still recalls a fortification-like appearance. Around it, you have access to the Oberstadt, either up the steep Lahntor or on the stairs of Mühltreppe.
The street crossing has been turned into a masive concrete construction. Pedestrian traffic has been banned to ugly underground passages. The pedestrian traffic light across Universitätsstraße is a recent acquisition which finally allows crossing the square without going downstairs first.
The narrow lane at the upper end of the market square is now named "Schloßsteig" but this used to be the street where the jews of the town lived. Until 1933 it was named "Judengasse".
When construction works on the underground electricity supply were due in the 1990s, archeological examinations of the place were done first. Archeologists indeed found the former synagogue, probably built in the 13th century.
The site was then covered with a glass cube that both protects the ruin from weather and vandalism and allows the view in from all sides any time.
The Kanzlei hosted the government and administration of the territory. It was built from 1573 to 1577 by court architect Eberhardt Baldewein, who also worked on the Schloss. The renaissance facades look very similar to the Schloss. The Kanzlei is standing on the steep slope below the Schloss, thus subordinated, but in a dominant position in the cityscape above the citizens' town.
The Kanzlei hosts the Museum of Religions, a collection which belongs to the unievrsity.
Opening hours: Mon./Wed./Fri. 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
The separate tower northwest of the palace served as prison for witches, or better innocent people who were accused of being witches or wizards with all consequences. A dark chapter in history which, by the way, is not set in the middle ages but mostly in the oh so modern 16th and 17th century.
The baroque fortifications on the northern flank of the hill are being restored and partly rebuilt. The underground casemates can be visited with guided tours each Saturday at 15.15 or by appointment (phone 06421-99120).
A narrow footpath, partly stairs, leads down to Hainweg, from where you can continue downhill along Renthof back to the Oberstadt, you will end up at the Wasserscheide.
The large villas along Hainweg are mostly houses of student corporations.
The top of the ridge behind the Schloss is a park with old trees and some viewpoints. Its centre is occupied by the open-air stage which is used for concerts, theater performances and similar in summer. The three open pointed arches in the back of the stage frame the view towards the Schloss and the trees of the park - no need to build a stage setting, it is already there.
The seats are not too comfortable and evenings can become chilly, so bring a cushion and blanket if you attend a performance there.
The small rose garden in front of the theater is a very pleasant spot in summer.
The castle in Marburg was first mentioned in the 12th century. Recent archeological research has however proved that the first castle must be much older.
Until 1604 the palace was the residence of the Landgraves of Hessen.
The central complex was built around a narrow courtyard. The chapel with its baroque spire dominates the view from the southern side. In the late 15th century the Wilhelmsbau was added, a separate wing on the very peak of the hill which is connected to the main palace by a bridge.
In 1529 the palace made church history. Landgrave Philipp invited the two main heads of the reformation movement: Martin Luther from Wittenberg and Huldrych Zwingli from Zürich. They had a long debate about evangelical theology but could not agree on certain questions concerning the holy communion. The chance to unite the Swiss and the Saxon reformation was lost. From then on the two protestant confessions went separate ways.
The palace can be visited, you get to see the medieval festival halls, the chapel, the Landgraves' rooms, the room where Luther and Zwingli had their colloquy, etc. The Wilhelmsbau contains the cultural history part of the university museum, which is also included in your ticket.
Open daily except Monday
April-October 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
November-March 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Open on holidays on Monday, closed Tuesday
Even if you do not want to visit the interior, climbing up for the view and the architecture is worth it. Walking the grounds and the courtyard is free.
The church belonged to the monastery of the Brüder vom Gemeinsamen Leben. The Brothers were known as Kugelherren in town because of the special headcovers they wore which are named Gugel - the name has nothing to do with Kugel (ball). The late gothic church was built around 1500.
The monastery was closed in the reformation and like the Dominican and Franciscan monastery became property of the newly founded university. The church was temporarily used as auditory and aula, then as Huguenot church. In 1827 it was reconsecrated as catholic parish church of the old town.