UNESCO World Heritage Site #164: Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg

UNESCO World Heritage Site #164: Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg
UNESCO World Heritage Site #164: Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg

From the World Heritage inscription:

These memorials are of outstanding universal value as bearing unique testimony to the Protestant Reformation, which was one of the most significant events in the religious and political history of the world, and as outstanding examples of 19th-century historicism. They are all associated with the lives of Martin Luther and his fellow-reformer Melanchthon.

In the 15th and 16th centuries Eisleben owed its great prosperity to copper and silver mining, Martin Luther was born there on 10 November 1483 at lodgings in a house in a street then known as Lange Gasse. The family moved in the following year to Mansfeld, some 10 km distant from Eisleben. After studying philosophy at Erfurt University, Martin Luther joined the Augustinian Order in 1505. He stayed there until 1510, when he transferred to the newly built Augustinian monastery at Wittenberg, where he also held the chair of Bible studies at the University. Two years later, on 31 October 1517, he launched the Reformation by nailing his 95 Propositions to the north door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

Wittenberg is a small community in Germany which was the starting point for one of the most significant changes in European in the last 1,000 years: the Protestant Reformation.

Given the size of Wittenberg, it is difficult to escape the presence of Martin Luther. You will see Martin Luther streets, statues, festivals and historical markers all over.

The most significant buildings in Wittenberg pertaining to Martin Luther are the Castle Church where he nailed the 95 Theses to the door, the town church where he preached and the Martin Luther house. You could easily explore the main Luther historic sites in half a day.

UNESCO locations in Wittenberg are a 10-15 minute walk from the Wittenberg train station. Wittenberg can be easily reached by train from Leipzig or Berlin and Wittenberg could be visited on a day trip from either city.

Overview

Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg

The Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Germany. It consists of Christian and religious structures in the towns of Eisleben and Wittenberg. The site was inscribed into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1996. These sites were considered of cultural value by the UNESCO committee as they represent the Protestant Reformation during the 16th century. Located in East Germany, these two towns have close links to the lives and works of Martin Luther, along with a fellow Reformer Melanchthon.

There are several structures included in the protected area for Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg. In particular, it includes the house where Martin Luther was born in on 1483 in Eisleben. The house where he died in on 1546 was also included among the protected sites. Other sites included were his room in Wittenberg, and the castle and local church where he posted his ’95 Theses’ that launched the Reformation.

About Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg

In order to understand the level of impact that the Protestant Reformation that ignited in the 16th century, through the initiative of Martin Luther, below is a list of the 6 locations included in the Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg UNESCO listing:

Luther Hall in Wittenburg: The Luther House, or Lutherhalle, is the most significant and interesting structure that was included in the WHS Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg. The Luther House is located within the Augustinian monastery that Luther called home, wherein he was initially a monk. Eventually, the property became his and that of his family. Inside this structure, there are plenty of well-preserved rooms and a museum that houses collection of Reformation artifacts and manuscripts.

Luther’s Birthplace in Eisleben: The house where Martin Luther was born in is part of the World Heritage Site. The house was built in the mid-15th century as a burgher’s home. The Luther family rented it before Martin Luther was born. The actual house was burnt to the ground in 1689 but a new structure was built in its place. To this day, the building is open to the public (since 1693) and is part of the World Heritage Site that honors the memory of Martin Luther.

Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg

Melanchthon’s House: This was the former home of Phillip Melanchthon, who together with Martin Luther was the proponent of the Reformation. This 16th century Renaissance style home is where Melanchthon lived and worked until his death. During 2010 to 2013, the house was turned into a memorial and was expanded to add a new building. The annex contains new features such as a museum shop, ticket counter, and additional space for exhibition.

Wittenberg’s All Saints’ Church (also known as Schlosskirche): This church was included in the world heritage site Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg as it is known as the Reformation Memorial Church. This is where Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses in 1517. Many believe that this act started the movement towards Protestant Reformation. In 1883, the church was restored and converted into a memorial site.

Town Church of Wittenberg (also known as Stadtkirche): The town church is Wittenberg is also a civic church wherein Luther preached about the Protestant Reformation movement. Many believe it is the mother-church of the Protestant Reformation.

Martin Luther’s Death House: This is the final site that was included in the multi-site property in UNESCO: Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg. This historic building is located in Eisleben wherein many incorrectly thought is where he died in 1546. Despite that, the building is now converted into a museum and is part of the UNESCO site that honors the memorial of Martin Luther and his works for the Protestant Reformation.

This was the ninth stop on my Eurail trip of UNESCO sites in Europe.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #163: Dresden Elbe Valley

UNESCO World Heritage Site #163: Dresden Elbe Valley
UNESCO World Heritage Site #163: Dresden Elbe Valley

From the World Heritage inscription:

The 18th- and 19th-century cultural landscape of Dresden Elbe Valley extends some 18 km along the river from Übigau Palace and Ostragehege fields in the north-west to the Pillnitz Palace and the Elbe River Island in the south-east. It features low meadows, and is crowned by the Pillnitz Palace and the centre of Dresden with its numerous monuments and parks from the 16th to 20th centuries. The landscape also features 19th- and 20th-century suburban villas and gardens and valuable natural features. Some terraced slopes along the river are still used for viticulture and some old villages have retained their historic structure and elements from the industrial revolution, notably the 147-m Blue Wonder steel bridge (1891–93), the single-rail suspension cable railway (1898–1901), and the funicular (1894–95). The passenger steamships (the oldest from 1879) and shipyard (c. 1900) are still in use.

This site is going to require more explanation than most World Heritage sites that I have visited…

Overview

Dresden Elbe Valley

The Dresden Elbe Valley is a former UNESCO World Heritage Site in Germany. This is a cultural landscape that stretches from Elbe River in Dresden, Germany. The valley that forms along the river passes through the Dresden Basin and is 20 kilometers in length. The scenic and architectural values in the area, along with the natural landscape that consists of slopes and natural river banks, are part of the reason why it was recognized by UNESCO.

It was added to the UNESCO list in 2004. However, it was placed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Danger in 2006. By June 2009, it became only the second site to be delisted by UNESCO.

About Dresden Elbe Valley

The Dresden Elbe Valley is a cultural landscape that comprises 18 kilometers in land area. The protected area covered by the UNESCO site listing starts in Elbe River and expands to the city of Dresden. Since the city of Dresden served as the capital of the Electorate of Saxony, it quickly became the cultural center of the region during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Among the notable parts of the Dresden Elbe Valley region includes Pillnitz Palace, Historic Center of Dresden, New Town of Dresden, Village of Loschwitz, and the Industrial Heritage. The city of Dresden was known as the Florence of Northern Europe due to its architectural jewels. The World War II bombing might have reduced some of the architectural features into ruins. This prompted many restorations of these monuments to be undergone.

Aside from the architectural landscape of Elbe River and Dresden, there are also numerous settlements in the area. These settlements reflect the development of Dresden from the Renaissance period. There are also a combination of historic suburbs and industrial districts.

De-Listing by UNESCO

Dresden Elbe Valley

The controversy surrounding the Dresden Elbe Valley’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site revolve around the plans to build a bridge across the Elbe River. This prompted the UNESCO committee to add Dresden Elbe Valley into the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger in 2006. The referendum to build the bridge was approved in 2005. Despite the threats from the World Heritage Committee to remove the site from the list if the bridge were to be built, the government proceeded with their plans to build the bridge and construction started in 2007. Further court hearings were done until 2008.

According to UNESCO, the building of the bridge depleted the cultural heritage and value of the Dresden Elbe Valley as a World Heritage Site. The building of the Waldschloesschen Bridge received massive local support. The bridge was completed in 2011.

Technically speaking, the Dresden Elbe Valley is no longer a World Heritage site. It was removed from the list by UNESCO in 2009 after being put on the list 2004.

The entire episode is an example of the downside to having world heritage status and something which I’ve heard from different cities around the world.

As I make it a point to visit UNESCO World Heritage sites, I paid attention to the Dresden incident when it happened back in 2009. It all had to do with a bridge which was being built across the Elbe river. As I had never been to Dresden at the time, I reserved judgment about what was happening. When I had the opportunity to visit Dresden as part of my Eurail trip through Germany, I jumped at the chance to see it for myself.

The entire controversy surrounds a bridge. The people of Dresden decided in 2005 in a referendum to build a bridge across the Elbe. A bridge in that location had actually been discussed as far back as 1876, but it was never built. There is even an avenue which was built on one side of the river in the 1920’s which leads up to where the bridge would have been built. Plans for the bridge were in the works before the vote by UNESCO to put Dresden on the list in 2004 and UNESCO was told that one more bridge would be built before they had the vote.

Local opponents of the bridge used UNESCO as their tool to stop construction after they lost the 2005 referendum. They claimed that the bridge would destroy the river valley, block views and ruin the aesthetic of the region.

They were wrong.

Having seen the bridge (which was mostly completed at the time of my visit in November 2011) I can state the following:

1) The bridge is not visible from the historic center of Dresden. If you go to the edge of the area, you might be able to see it. You can however, see an ugly communist era bridge that was built in the 1960s.

2) The bridge is barely visible from some of the historic palaces further up the river from Dresden. Here is a photo where you can see the bridge, as seen from the Albrechtsberg Palace.

3) It only blocks the view of the city center if you happen to put yourself in a position where it will block your view. By that logic, anything can block your view.

4) Nothing historic was destroyed to build the bridge. It wasn’t as if they tore something down to create this. It was built where there never was a bridge.

There was one other UNESCO site which has been delisted, and that was the The Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman. That was delisted at the request of Oman because 90% of the sanctuary was destroyed after oil was found there. A totally different set of circumstances than what was in Dresden.

UNESCO was trying to strong arm Dresden to get them to do what they wanted. I’ve heard similar stories in Cologne, Liverpool and other cities. Preservation of history isn’t enough, they also want to block development, even if that development is done in such a way as to fit in with the history of a place.

Having visited Dresden and seen the bridge with my own eyes, I don’t agree with their decision to delist Dresden.

For that reason, I’d decided to keep it on my personal list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

This was the eighth stop on my November 2011 Eurail trip to European UNESCO sites.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Paris Syndrome and Setting Travel Expectations

Recently on This Week In Travel, we came across a story about Japanese tourists who visit France and come down with something called “Paris Syndrome“. Paris Syndrome is a condition that strikes tourists who visit a place and find that it doesn’t live up to how they imagined it.

Some Japanese have a vision of Paris which comes from fashion magazines, television and movies. They assume everyone is thin and wears designer clothing all the time. When they arrive, they are shocked to see normal looking people wearing normal looking clothes. The added problems of cultural shocks, language differences and jet lag can result in some people becoming dizzy, depressed and having breakdowns.

This effects an average of one Japanese tourist to Paris each month. Continue reading “Paris Syndrome and Setting Travel Expectations”

The Business of running a Popular Travel Blog

I don’t like talking about business on my blog.

Honestly, the business part of what I do isn’t really that interesting compared to the traveling. I don’t travel to have a business, I have a business so I can travel. Nonetheless, about once a year I allow myself the indulgence to write about the business side of what I do. It is a frequent question I get from people who I meet on the road and from people who discover my site.

Earning a living online is so different from what people are used to, they often don’t know what to make of it. So, if you are curious, here is a peek behind the scenes at how I deal with the non-traveling side of things… Continue reading “The Business of running a Popular Travel Blog”

8 Facts You Might Not Have Known About the Isle of Man

Hello from the city of Douglas, capital of the Isle of Man!

I arrived here today on a short flight from Belfast, Northern Ireland. I’ll be here through the weekend exploring the island and taking photos.

Given the unique nature of the island, I thought it would be a good time for another installment of 8 Facts You Might Not Know…… Continue reading “8 Facts You Might Not Have Known About the Isle of Man”