Merseburg at the river Saale
Above the river, the towers of the cathedral and castle tower picturesquely over the city.
Merseburg has been one of the most important German palatinates since the beginning of the 10th century.
From 933 to 1213, the German emperors met more than 20 times in Merseburg. The city was the centre of the empire.
|Roman-German Kings / Emperors||Government|
|Heinrich I.||919 - 936|
|Otto I. the Great||936 - 973|
|Otto II.||973 - 938|
|Otto III.||938 - 1002|
|Heinrich II.||1002 -1024|
|Konrad II.||1024 -1039|
Before the great battle on the Lechfeld on 10 August 955 against the Hungarians, Otto the Great swore in the face of his holy lance: "In the event of victory, I will erect a bishopric in Merseburg for the saint of the day.
The saint of the day was St Laurence. The archbishopric was founded in 968. The holy lance can be seen today in the treasury in Vienna and we are standing in front of the cathedral "St. John the Baptist and Laurentius" in Merseburg.
However, the cathedral was not built until years later by Henry II, who clearly preferred Merseburg among his palatinates. The crypt, begun in 1036, is still preserved from this construction. Around 1280, the cathedral was decorated with highly regarded stained glass windows, which were later lost and replaced in 1947-1960 by Charles Crodel in a modern continuation of the medieval formal language. The nave was rebuilt between 1510 and 1517.
Merseburg Castle was built on the palace grounds under Bishop Heinrich von Warin (1245-65). Under Bishop Thilo von Trotha (1466-1514) it was rebuilt, and under Duke Johann Georg I of Saxony from 1605 onwards it was rebuilt and extended by Melchior Brenner. The east wing was destroyed in 1944/45 and rebuilt in 1971.
From 1656 to 1738 the castle was the residence of the Dukes of Saxe-Merseburg. The cathedral was used as the court church. Since 1815, the castle has been the seat of the administration.
I have rarely seen such a beautiful organ as in this cathedral. Unfortunately, I have not heard it.
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In the Baroque period, Merseburg Cathedral served as a court church for the collateral line of the Dresden Wettin Saxe-Merseburg dynasty residing in the adjacent castle. It owes its main altar (1668), the monumental portal to the princely crypt (1670) and above all the organ to this "ducal period", which after a first rebuilding in 1665/66 was completely renewed again in 1693 and also received a new prospectus in 1697.
At that time, it was inserted into the late Gothic nave with great naturalness, as if it had been built for it - this magnificent baroque prospect still dominates the cathedral today: piled up to the vault, it fills the space between the towers.
The work, probably begun by Zacharias Theisner as early as 1693, did not function properly. In 1714, the organ builder Johann Friedrich Wender from Mühlhausen had to make a thorough technical overhaul of the work.
The solemn consecration of the organ did not take place until 17 October 1717. Work on the facade has been suspected for the long period between the acceptance. In 1734, the Silbermann pupil and collaborator Zacharias Hildebrandt was commissioned to insert several new stops.
Several more or less extensive repairs followed, none of them satisfactory.
It was Friedrich Ladegast (1818-1905) from Weißenfels, the great Central German organ builder of the 19th century, who was to make this organ building famous.
Between 1853 and 1855, he built a completely new organ in the old baroque case, which now contained a total of almost 5700 pipes in 81 stops and the old steel chimes - one of the largest organs in Germany at the time.
Franz Liszt took a lively interest in the construction of this instrument, which is significant in terms of organ and music history and was the first large Romantic organ in Central Germany, and was inspired by it to write his most important organ works. The organ's dedication on 26 September 1855 met with an enthusiastic response.
In a comprehensive renovation from 2001 to 2004, the organ was restored to Ladegast's disposition and, as far as possible, given back its 1866 sound.
Merseburg Chapter House
The chapter house, whose origins can be traced back to the 12th century, was the administrative and representative building of the Merseburg cathedral chapter until the 19th century. The chapter house was one of the most beautiful late Gothic buildings in Germany, especially because of its prestigious frescoed rooms.