Close to the house where Luther died is the parish Church of St. Andrew (Marktkirche St. Andreas) where Luther frequently preached when he visited the town. In fact, his last four sermons were preached here shortly before his death. This late Gothic hall church dominates the market square with its twin bell towers.
Originally built in the early middle ages as a Romanesque structure the church was renovated in the fifteenth century following a fire that almost completely destroyed the original building. The church was rebuilt to create a relatively rare triple-naved hall church. Inside this dimly lit building are a number of impressive tombs and an richly carved altar. It also contains busts of both Luther and his close associate Philipp Melancthon (1497-1560).
|Statue of Luther with St. Andrew's Church in the background.|
Today the church is in dire need of renovation due to years of neglect during the communist era of the German Democratic Republic. Once these renovations, which are due to begin soon, are completed it will be a truly magnificent building rich in history.
A short walk down the hill from the market square leads to the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul which stands a few hundred yards from Luther’s birthplace. It is here that on St. Martin’s Day, 11 November 1483, the baby boy who grew up to become Martin Luther was baptized.
The church was first mentioned in local records in 1333. It is a three-aisled church which was extensively renovated in 1486. Today, once more, it is undergoing large scale renovations in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
Inside the church the visitor can see its impressive fan vault and the actual font which it is believed was used in Luther’s baptism. For years it was thought that the font was lost, but it was unearthed in a local garden in 1726. The inscription on commemorating Luther was added in the 18th century.
|The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul as seen |
when approached from Luther's birthplace.
A winged altar dates from the late 15th century while the main altar was added around 1500. It was dedicated to St. Anne the patron saint of miners. Significantly, when caught in a terrible thunder storm at Strotternheim, near Erfurt, the young Luther, who by that time was a university student, called upon St. Anne to save him. Shortly after surviving the storm, Luther entered a monastery to become a monk.
Before leaving Eisleben it is also worth visiting the Local History, or Heimat, Museum, located at Andreaskircheplatz 7. It has an interesting collection of mining tools from Luther’s time and provides a background to the life of Luther and his family.
|The winged altar in the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul|