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Renaissance and Reformation

Making his mark: Martin Luther

During his life and work, the great religious reformer Martin Luther left an indelible imprint in Dresden Elbland, as amply evidenced to this day in many key locations. Pirna, where his ecclesiastical revolution came into being, is among the best places to start tracing his steps, although never graced by Luther himself in person. Infuriated at the sale of indulgences by local priest Johann Tetzel, Luther was spurred to nail a poster with 95 critical theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church on 31 October 1517 and, in so doing, triggered the Reformation. In no time, it gained huge momentum – enough to endanger Luther’s life, until Friedrich the Wise offered him protection at Hartenfels Castle in Torgau.

Retracing Luther’s legacy in Torgau

This royal seat of splendour, also in Dresden Elbland, proved a receptive venue for Luther’s new teachings. Indeed, the town of Torgau was at the political heart of the Reformation and became a crucial hub for his work. This is where, for example, the first baptism was held according to Lutheran rites and the venue for the first German-language sermon. Torgau Castle Chapel at Schloss Hartenfels became the world’s first new Protestant church building, consecrated by Luther in 1544. It was also the final resting place for Luther’s wife, Katharina von Bora, the epitaph of whom can be read in Sankt Marien town church.


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