Luther's Birth Place
Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483 in Eisleben, Germany. It wasn’t long before the citizens of Eisleben created a memorial to Eisleben’s most famous son in the house where he was born: At the end of the 17th century a public museum was opened for Lutheran pilgrims. This means that the house is the oldest memorial site dedicated to a single person in the entire German-speaking world. Today, the exhibitions are housed in the historical building and in the modern building and detail the Reformer’s close relationships with his parents and the entire region. Martin Luther was always aware of his origins.
Exhibition: I come from here – Martin Luther and Eisleben
Luther’s parents came from Möhra in Thuringia and moved to Mansfeld Land so that his father could find occupational and social advancement in the local mining industry. Eisleben was just an intermediate stop for the young family and they moved on to Mansfeld after the birth of their son Martin.
Mining and baptism
The exhibition follows the trail of the Luther family. Around 250 exhibits narrate the Reformer’s background, his father’s work in the mining industry, the piety and spirituality of the middle ages as well as Luther’s baptism. A 16th century baptismal font from his baptistery details what was the most important event for Luther in Eisleben.
The long tradition of mining in the region is also depicted in the form of two stone brackets made in 1290. They show two men, Nappian and Neucke, working in the mining tunnels. Legend says that they were the first miners in Mansfeld Land.
Piety and spirituality
The epitaphs in the Stadtgottesacker cemetery in Eisleben are particularly artistic. The memorial images show the piety of the people before and after the Reformation and depict scenes from the bible with views of the town of Eisleben and the surrounding area as well as images of the deceased and their families. Luther also appears in these scenes sometimes.
The exhibition in the historic building gives a lively impression of the way of life in the 1500s. Furniture made from wood and wood burning stoves give visitors a sense of how the family lived. They were based on historic examples and made using old techniques.
The “Beautiful Hall”
Hundreds of years of commemorating Luther in this place are concentrated in the “Beautiful Hall” that has been a memorial room for Martin Luther since the Baroque period. On display are twelve life-sized portraits as well as a unique sculpture of a swan—the symbol of Martin Luther.
History of the house
St. Petri Church, Luther Charity School and Birthplace, ca. 1830
As early as the 17th century, visitors and pilgrims came to Eisleben to visit the house where Martin Luther was born in 1483. However, the late medieval half-timbered house was largely destroyed in the town fire of 1689. The house took on its present-day appearance during the renovation works and was rebuilt as a Luther memorial. The historic building was expanded in 2007 with a modern building and visitor center.
In 1861/1862, a school was built adjacent to the Birthplace in Seminarstrasse 2. This became part of the Luther Memorials Foundation in 2005. The interior of the building was completely gutted in 2015/2016 and renovated incorporating the original slag block facade.
In 2016, with the Luther Archive, the Luther Memorials Foundation received its first storage and archive rooms in Eisleben. The Luther Archive stores collections of the Foundation and the Tower Library of the St. Andreas Church. The building also provides space for events and cultural education.
Timeline of the house’s history
Martin Luther was born in 1483 in a late medieval half-timbered house in what is known today at the Lutherstrasse in the Petriviertel area.
After his family moved away, the house was privately owned for 200 years.
In 1583, the Birthplace was marked with a memorial plaque depicting a full-length image of Luther. The plaque has survived to this day.
The town fire of 1689 destroyed a large part of the building. Then, the town of Eisleben purchased the plot and built the Luther Memorial that can be seen today.
In 1693, the Birthplace was opened as a charity school for children in need and as a lasting veneration of Luther. The school closed in the 20th century. The top floor of the building was converted into the so-called “Beautiful Hall” displaying portraits of Luther and Melanchthon as well as the electors of Saxony. This public gallery turned the Birthplace into one of the first history museums in the German-speaking world. The upkeep of the building was financed through donations and irregular subsidies from the town treasury.
In 1817, the Prussian King Frederick William III transferred the responsibility for Luther’s Birthplace to the State. The building was renovated and turned into a museum. The king founded the Luther Charity School which is located near the Birthplace.
Luther’s Birthplace became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
The Birthplace was completely refurbished from 2005 to 2007 and expanded with a new building that connects it to the charity school, as well as a visitor center on the opposite corner of the street (Design: Springer Architekten, Berlin).
2007: Saxony-Anhalt State Prize for Architecture
2008: Commendation as part of the German Urban Development Prize
2009: Acknowledged by the German Architecture Museum as one of the top 24 buildings in Germany
2009: Hannes Meyer Prize, Association of German Architects, State Association for Saxony-Anhalt
2010: Nike prize for the Best Creation of Space, Association of German Architects