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

Meowzilla (17 months 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.
Shreya Garg (2 years ago)
Beautiful and peaceful cathedral in the heart of Magdeburg. The ornamentation is so soothing and pleasant to eyes.
Rutger van der Linden (2 years ago)
Pretty building, well worth a view, especially from the wide spacious square next to it, offering shade and fountains for the little ones to run around in, from where it is also an easy walk to the green citadel on one side, and the water front on the other. Great spot for a cool down.
Vasilia Malteza (2 years ago)
Magnificent cathedral! We only saw its exterior but it was worth it!
marcel boer (2 years ago)
Missing proper historic setting. There are books that you could buy to look it up, but no easy access as a tourist.
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