The origins of the Dom, Magdeburg’s medieval cathedral, date around the year 1000 and are connected with Emperor Otto I. from the Saxon dynasty. In those times the land east of the Elbe was still in Slavic and thus pagan hands. To promote the mission and, of course, the conquering of the land Otto founded the Archbishopric of Magdeburg.
The cathedral has been extended and enlarged later on and is a huge gothic building. The two steeples in the west form a huge façade which is visible from afar, no matter from which direction you approach the city.
To beautify his church, Otto had original ancient Roman pieces transported here from the Mediterranean across the Alps and the whole of Germany. The baptismal font is a water basin made from Egyptian porphyry. The inner facades of the choir are decorated with marble columns from Ravenna. Why this effort? The Emperors of the medieval Holy Roman Empire saw themselves as the legit successors of the ancient Roman Caesars and Imperators. The use of ancient Roman architectural pieces transferred a bit of Rome to Magdeburg and made the political role of the Emperor visible.
The Dom contains the graves of Otto and his first wife Editha. Note the little house with their statues inside. These are not portraits and according to modern research depict Christ and either Mary or the Ecclesia rather than the imperial couple, nevertheless…
Magdeburg introduced the reformation in the 16th century and the Dom is a protestant church. It is, however, the metropolitan church of the Evangelical Church of the Saxon Church province (a former Prussian province that covers parts of Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, not to be confused with today’s Saxony) and as such the church of a bishop. The catholic cathedral of Magdeburg, however, is a different church on the opposite side of Breiter Weg. Magdeburg is the seat of two bishops and has two cathedrals.
The adjacent cloister can be entered through the church and should not be missed. The buildings around the cloister are occupied by the church administration and contain offices.
The northern half of Breiter Weg, north of Ernst-Reuter-Straße, is a DDR shopping mall and a typical example of socialist architecture. The large building at its beginning with the windowless façade is the former department store Centrum, now taken over by the Karstadt chain. Further along, the wide street is flanked by large residential blocks in Plattenbau architecture with flat shop pavilions in front.
In 1990 the mall was rather run down. In the meantime most of the blocks have been restored. Nevertheless the shops that have moved in after the reunification are mostly cheapo crap and knickknack shops, 1-Euro-stores and similar. The better shops can instead be found in the new malls like Alleecenter and City Carré.
The gilded equestrian statue is said to be a portrait of Emperor Otto I., the founder of the Bishopric and the city. The one in the old market square in front of the city hall is a copy. The original can be admired at Kulturhistorisches Museum.
The Roland statue, a knight in armour presenting a sword, in front of the town hall has been reconstructed in 2005 on behalf of a private initiative, lead by the city’s mayor. The original dated from 1589. Such Roland statues can be found in many cities of the North. They symbolize the independence and jurisdiction of these cities, most of which were members of the Hansa.
The old city hall has been restored, but otherwise there is not much left of the old town. The so-called old market square is like a lonely island, surrounded by a sea of Plattenbau and modern shopping malls.
I remember visiting the Dom - the city cathedral fully restored after the war.
You can see the tall building of the city cathedral and St.Sebastian Church near it.
Both building are quite near the Elbe.
Having a walk downtown you will see some great sites as shown on the old postcard that I have kept since 1981 (my first trip to Germany):
- the monument to Otto von Guericke (upper left);
- Friendship Promenade (upper right);
- the Post Office (middle left);
- the Old City Council (middle right); -
- two lower pictures represent the parts of the modern downtown.
This building was erected in different styles. The eastern side was made in Renaissance style, the western in neo-gothic. In front of the building you can park your car for free. This is a good advice as in most streets in the center you have to pay for parking.
At the Fürstenwall you find two towers. One was built in 1430 and is called "Hinter der Möllenvogtei" the other one one year later and is called "Kiek in de Köken" (=view in the kitchen). It derived its name from the excellent view in the kitchen of the archbishop.
This museum was founded in 1906 by the Viennese architect Friedrich Othmann as museum of art. Today it houses a persistent exhibition on the history of Magdeburg and changing art exhibitions.
10.00am - 5.00 pm daily
closed on mondays
The origins of the St Mauritius' and St Katharina's Cathedral date back to 937. King Otto I founded a Benedictine monastery on this site. After a fire in 1207, the reconstruction of the cathedral was commenced in 1209. This new cathedral was the first building in Germany possessing a Gothic ground-plan. The tomb of Otto I lies in the church.
I am always reading on VT "Look up!" but occasionally it's worth remember to "Look down!" You might see something interesting!
It maybe just a manhole cover, but someone took the trouble to design and make it, knowing full well people would just walk right over it! :)) There's all kinds of street furniture that we walk straight past, but often has interesting detail and information that goes unnoticed.
Asking friendly locals for names and info about places doesn't always work. Sometimes you just have to do the legwork yourself (or ask a knowledgeable VTer like Nemorino :))
St Johanneskirche is the oldest parish church in Magdeburg. Originally built 1131 in Romanic style it was destroyed in the great city fire of 1207, then rebuilt in gothic style. The late gothic entrance hall was added in 1453. Martin Luther preached in this church in 1524; shortly thereafter Magdeburg became a center of Protestantism. It is used today as a multifunctional hall for events and meetings. (Oh and there is a statue of Luther
in front of the building).
the history of The Old Town Hall goes back to the 12th or 13th century. It was destroyed in the Thirty Years' War, and then rebuilt in the style of the Italian renaissance. The bronze door at the main entrance shows episodes of the history of Magdeburg.
Monastery of Our Lady
Magdeburg's most impressive building, is the cathedral dominating the historical city centre. The cathedral is the first gothic church building in Germany and with a height of 104 m the highest church building of East Germany.
Built between 1064 and the middle of the 12th century, the Cathedral now houses an art museum and theatre.