The Lutherhaus is a writer's house museum in Lutherstadt Wittenberg. Originally built 1504 as part of the University of Wittenberg, the building was the home of Martin Luther for most of his adult life and a significant location in the history of the Protestant Reformation. Luther was living here when he wrote his 95 Theses.
The Augusteum is an expansion to the original building that was constructed after Luther's death to house a Protestant seminary and library which still exist today. Since 1996, both buildings have been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
When the University was opened in 1503, the monks of the Order of Saint Augustine were given land previously belonging to the Heiligegeisthospital (Hospital of the Holy Spirit) located near the Elster Gate. There, they began building a cloister, known as the Black Monastery because of the color of the monks' habits, which was to be a residence hall and academy for the Augustinians studying in Wittenberg. In 1507, after his ordination as a priest, Martin Luther was sent by Johann von Staupitz to continue his study, and he took up residence in a cell in the southwest corner of the new monastery. By 1512, he had graduated as a Doctor of Theology and was part of the theological faculty of the University of Wittenberg, having the official position of Doctor of Bible. He began developing and preaching the basic tenets of the Protestant Reformation and published his 95 Theses while teaching here.
Luther lived with the Augustinians in the Black Monastery until 1521, when he was forced to hide at Wartburg Castle due to political tensions surrounding the Protestant Reformation. As the Peasants' War gained strength, parts of the Wittenberg University, including the monastery, were abandoned. In 1524, after Luther had returned to Wittenberg, the Electorate of Saxony gave the empty residence halls of the Black Monastery to the Luther family, where he lived until his death in 1546. It was here that, beginning in 1531, Martin Luther held his influential Table Talks with his students. Luther taught and wrote throughout his time there, including many revisions of his translation of the Bible. He also expanded and added to the Lutherhaus, most notably building the Katharinenportal, a carved entryway that was a birthday present to his wife.
After Luther's death in Eisleben, the Lutherhaus was sold back to the university in 1564 by his heirs. Within a year, major remodeling was begun to turn the Lutherhaus into a boarding school. The imposing exterior spiral staircase was added, the refectory was given a new vaulted ceiling, and the great hall, which had been Luther's lecture hall, was redecorated and modernized. The Lutherstube, Martin Luther's living room, was left as it was, although it was frequently used to host important guests.
In 1760, Wittenberg was attacked by Austria during the Seven Years' War, and many important buildings were severely damaged. Although the Lutherhaus survived with only minimal damage, it was the beginning of a period of decay. Between 1761 and 1813, it was used as a military hospital, particularly due to the Napoleonic Wars. Afterwards, it was given to the Royal Seminary, as the Wittenberg University was dissolved to become part of the University of Halle-Wittenberg. However, the crown was not able to use the building, and it became a free school for the poor and continued to deteriorate. Finally, the dreadful state of the building became too much to ignore, and Friedrich August Stüler was hired to restore and rebuild the Lutherhaus between the years of 1853 and 1856.
The Lutherhaus is currently the world's largest museum relating to the Reformation. It contains many original objects from Luther's life, including his pulpit from the Stadtkirche, his monk's habit, several paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder, and numerous bibles, pamphlets, and manuscripts.References:
The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.
The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.
In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.
In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.
After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.
In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.
In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.