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Ss. John the Baptist and Lawrence`s Cathedral - Merseburg


Above the city of Merseburg, on the left bank of the Saale river, rises the architectonically impressive ensemble of cathedral and castle which are able to tell important historic facts. Present-day Merseburg Cathedral is a late Gothic hall church with a transept and four towers. It is mainly characterised by the early Romanesque cathedral building constructed by Heinrich II and provides visitors with insights into the different centuries and their significant achievements in art, culture and the church.
One of the most valuable works of art is Germany’s oldest bronze portrait tomb of Rudolf of Swabia (around 1080), the counterking of Heinrich IV.
The three-nave, four-bay crypt (first half of the 11th century) is an important result of early Romanesque architecture. It is one of the oldest, unchanged, preserved and most beautiful hall crypts in Middle Germany.
Merseburg Cathedral is known far beyond Germany for its organ which was renovated by Friedrich Ladegast in 1855. With almost 5700 organ pipes it is one of the biggest organs of Romanticism with one of the most beautiful sounds in Middle Germany.
Visitors can enjoy a marvellous view of the cathedral precincts and the Saale region when climbing up the imposing west towers which contain medieval bells.


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    History

    • Ss. John the Baptist and Lawrence`s Cathedral - Merseburg On a hill above the Saale river, located directly on the eastern border of the German Empire, Merseburg was a place of outstanding strategic importance. With Heinrich I (919-936) one of the most important palatinates of the Saxon kingdom developed here.

      The bishopric was first founded by Otto the Great in 968. Soon after, in 981, it was dissolved by the successor of Otto I, Otto II. The collegiate church, which was built by Heinrich I and dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, served as the first cathedral. By means of the new founding of the bishopric by Heinrich II (1002-1024) in 1004 the former standing of Merseburg was restored. However, the beginnings of the Merseburg cathedral foundation date back to the late 10th century.
      Heinrich II promoted the construction of a new cathedral which was consecrated in his presence on 1st October 1021. Thanks to the great assistance to the city and the bishopric by Emperor Heinrich II, Merseburg developed into one of the most important political centres in the empire at that time. At least 28 visits to Merseburg by Heinrich II for important court and feast days are proven. Today, it is particularly the topographically and architectonically outstanding ensemble of cathedral and castle, provided with their present appearance by Bishop Thilo of Trotha (1466-1514), which testifies to Merseburg’s former importance.
      After the Reformation, the former bishopric was taken over by the Saxon-Albertinian Kurhaus. With the transition of Merseburg to Prussia in 1815 the bishopric territory was placed under Prussian sovereignty. Today, Merseburg Cathedral (Protestant since 1561) together with Naumburg Cathedral and the collegiate foundation of Zeitz belongs to a foundation under public law, directed by seven canons.
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    Architecture and Furniture

    • Ss. John the Baptist and Lawrence`s Cathedral - Merseburg The cathedral’s dimensions and layout from this time have remained important until today despite several reconstructions. The lower areas of the east sections as well as the west towers are still from the original building. After repeated collapses of the sanctuary, two round towers flanking the chancel and serving as stabilisation as well as a hall crypt were built by 1042. At the same time the sanctuary was reconstructed.
      In 1230 the choir and transept were renovated in late Romanesque style and screen walls and a rood screen (which was taken down after the introduction of the Reformation) were constructed as a border. In connection with the construction of the vestibule, the square lower parts of the west towers were raised by octagonal storeys.
      The renovation of the cathedral under Bishop Thilo of Trotha in the 16th century caused a further radical change in structure. The main building was converted into a late Gothic hall and got most of its present-day appearance this way. The new hall had to be inserted between the east and west sections of the old church and had to be adapted to these in length, height and width. Slender octagonal pillar pairs bear the net vault and subdivide the room into one middle nave and two side naves (half the width of the middle nave) of four bays each.
      The baroque period also left deep traces. In the second half of the 17th century the cathedral was converted into the court church of the dukes of Saxony-Merseburg (1656-1738). Thus the uniformity of architecture and interior design as well as the vividness and balance make up an architectural ensemble of a special quality and attraction.

      The choir stalls at the screens of the crossing, which were carved by Caspar Schockholtz in 1446, represent scenes from the Old and the New Testament.
      Bishop Thilo of Trotha (1466-1514) chose the northern wing of the transept as the chapel for his tomb. Both his tomb, which is below the blind arcades of the choir screen with portraits of 42 bishops of Merseburg, and his memorial tablet, which is on the eastern wall, are productions of the famous Vischer’s workshop in Nuremberg.
      One of the dominating baroque design elements is the organ with its richly ornamented organ case which was carved in the 17th century. Friedrich Ladegast inserted completely new organ workings with almost 5700 pipes and 81 stops in the old baroque case. Merseburg’s cathedral organ inspired Franz Liszt to compose important pieces to play on it.
      Attached to the south of the cathedral is the cloister with the adjacent chapter house and the Michaeliskapelle chapel where the former retable of the Heinrich’s altar by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1535/1537) can be found. The renovation of the chapter house and the two new showrooms in the basement provide the possibility to permanently present valuable documents, manuscripts and rare prints from the holdings of the cathedral’s library from September 2006 on, among which are the world-famous Merseburg Incantations (Merseburger Zaubersprüche).
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    Regular guided visits

    • March - October
      Monday - Thursday: 11.00 | 13.00
      Friday - Saturday: 11.00 | 13.00 | 15.00
      Sunday/religious holiday: 13.00 | 15.00

      Ascent of the Tower
      Friday - Sunday/religious holiday: 14.00

      November - February
      Monday - Thursday: 11.00
      Friday - Saturday: 11.00 | 13.00
      Sunday/religious holiday: 13.00

      Guided tours for groups
      Duration: 60 min | 90 Min;
      Fees: 50,00 € | 70,00 €;
      Participants: max. 35;
      Reservation for groups required;
      English tours upon reservation;
      Special themed tours;
      Fees for tours beyond opening hours: 75,00 € | 105,00 €

      Prices
      Adult | in group of more than 15 persons: 6,50 € |6,00 €
      Apprentice, Student | in group of more than 15 persons: 4,50 €|4,00 €
      Pupil | school class: 3,00 €| 2,50 €
      Families: 17,00 €
      Audioguide: 3,00 €
      Public guided tour: 3,00 €
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    Audioguide

    • A fascinating Journey through the Middle Ages and the Beginnings of Europe

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    • 0 Intro Transromanica

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    • 1 Welcome to Ss. John the Baptist and Lawrence's Cathedral

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    • 2 United Cathedral

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    • 3 The Beginning

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    • 4 - 0 Entrance Hall

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    • 4 - 1 Tomb of Hagen

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    • 4 - 2 Kunigunde Altar

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    • 5 Under Organ

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    • 6 - 0 The Nave

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    • 6 - 1 Seating and Pulpit

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    • 7 Triumph Cross

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    • 8 - 0 Ladegast Organ

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    • 8 - 1 History of Organ

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    • 9 Tietmar of Merseburg

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    • 10 - 0 Tumba Epitaph

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    • 10 - 1 Legend of Raven

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    • 11 Crypta

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    • 12 Rudolf von Schwaben

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    • 13 Seating in Choir

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    • 14 High Altar

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    • 15 Vestry

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    • 16 Baptismal Chapel

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    • 17 Covered Walk

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    • 18 Goodbye

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    • 19 Travel Recommendation

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Object
Ss. John the Baptist and Lawrence`s Cathedral
Domplatz 7
06217 Merseburg
Deutschland
03461 – 21 00 45
E-mail
Website

Organization:
Vereinigte Domstifter
Domplatz 19
06618 Naumburg
Deutschland
03445 - 23 01 100
E-mail
Website

Tourist Information:
Tourist Information Office
Burgstrasse 5
06217 Merseburg
Deutschland
0461-21 41 70
E-mail
Website


Highlight Cathedrals

Opening Hours:

March - October
Monday - Saturday: 9.00 - 18.00
Sunday/religious holiday:   11.00 - 18.00

November - February
Monday - Saturday: 10.00 - 16.00
Sunday/religious holiday: 12.00 - 16.00
24 December: 9.00 - 12.00
31 December:  9.00 - 14.00


Ss. John the Baptist and Lawrence`s Cathedral - Merseburg

Ss. John the Baptist and Lawrence`s Cathedral - Merseburg