Magdeburg Cathedral

Magdeburg, Germany

Magdeburg Cathedral is the oldest Gothic cathedral in Germany. It is the proto-cathedral of the former Prince-Archbishopric of Magdeburg. The 100m high steeples make it one of the tallest cathedrals in eastern Germany. The cathedral is the landmark of Magdeburg and also home to the grave of Emperor Otto I the Great.

The first church built in 937 at the location of the current cathedral was an abbey called St. Maurice, dedicated to Saint Maurice. It was financed by Emperor Otto I the Great, who was also buried to the church. The entire cathedral was destroyed on Good Friday in 1207 by the fire. The current cathedral was constructed over the period of 300 years starting from 1209, and the completion of the steeples took place only in 1520. Despite being repeatedly looted, Magdeburg Cathedral is rich in art, ranging from antiques to modern art. The old crypt has been excavated and can be visited by the public.

In 1631, during the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) Magdeburg was raided, and only a small group of 4000 citizens survived the murdering, raping, and looting by seeking refuge in the cathedral. The cathedral survived the fires in the city. However, as Tilly's catholic forces left Magdeburg, the cathedral was completely looted, and its colorful windows were shot out.

In 1806 Magdeburg was given to Napoleon, and the cathedral was used for storage, and also as a horse barn and sheep pen. The occupation ended in 1814, and between 1826 and 1834 Frederick William III of Prussia financed the much-needed repairs and reconstruction of the cathedral. The glass windows were all replaced in 1900.

The frequent Allied bombings of World War II completely destroyed the windows of the cathedral. During the heaviest firebombing on January 16, 1945, one bomb hit the cathedral on the west side, destroying the wall, the organ, and some other parts of the building. Fortunately, the fire brigades were able to extinguish the flames on the roof structures in time, so damage to the cathedral was only moderate. The cathedral was opened again in 1955.

Architecture

The current cathedral was constructed over a period of 300 years starting from 1209, and the completion of the steeples took place only in 1520. Unlike most other Gothic cathedrals, Magdeburg Cathedral does not have flying buttresses supporting the walls. The layout of the cathedral consists of one nave and two aisles, with one transept crossing the nave and aisles.

A secondary building around a large non-rectangular cloister is connected to the south side of the cathedral. The cloister, whose south wall survived the fire of 1207 and is still from the original church, was parallel to the original church. Yet, the current church was constructed at a different angle, and hence the cloister is at an odd angle with the church.

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Address

Am Dom 1, Magdeburg, Germany
See all sites in Magdeburg

Details

Founded: 1209
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Hohenstaufen Dynasty (Germany)

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Kira (13 months ago)
Gorgeous gothic cathedral that is absolutely worth a stop in central Magdeburg. They have a beautiful labyrinth outside and while the interior is somewhat plain, the gardens and courtyard make it very worthwhile. If you manage to time it correctly, you can sign up for a tour which includes being allowed to climb the stairs into one of the towers (so I hear...we were not so lucky).
Christian Scheinhardt (15 months ago)
Huge. Dark. Impressive. Beautiful. A must-see when visiting Magdeburg. The high towers are a landmark that can be seen from far away already. Go inside and get lost beneath the perfectly crafted gothic construction which reaches high up into the sky. If you get lucky you might be hearing the organist doing some rehearsals.
Madhu B S (2 years ago)
The place is really good. There are two nearby houses on which vines and Ivy has grown which looks really amazing. The Elbe river is just 100 meter's from this Cathedral. One can walk along the bank of the Elbe river too. There are many nearby good restaurants too and the tram station is near too. One can reach the Cathedral within 10 minutes from the nearest tram station.
Ji Hoon Lim (2 years ago)
If you’re a history fan, you’re going to love this place. The stories about the history of the cathedral itself and King Otto are interesting. But for those who are more amazed by architectures, not really a bucket-list material. But I guess you’ll drop by because this is the no.1 sightseeing spot in Magdeburg. Oh by the way, it’s two euros to take photos inside. I would consider this as a donation to maintain this robust structure. Enjoy!
Meowzilla (3 years ago)
Very beautiful. Lots of useful information around the cathedral with a few information pamphlets to understand the church better. There was a memorial for the world war 1 victims (as least that's what I depicted as I am not a German and do not understand what the plague says). Like I said, very beautiful and creative designs. The Christmas decorations fit very well. However, you have to pay a small fee to take pictures. Totally recommend coming to visit.
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