Martin Luther was born in Eisleben on 10 November 1483, and the citizens of Eisleben began cultivating the memory of their greatest son in his birthplace very early on: already in the late 17th century, a public museum was set up for Luther pilgrims, making this house the oldest memorial to a single person anywhere in the German-speaking world.
Today, an exhibition in the historic structure and a modern building show how the future reformer grew up and how close the ties were between him, his parents and the region. That is because Martin Luther was always very conscious of his roots.
Luther’s parents moved from Möhra, in Thuringia, to Mansfelder Land because mining activities here offered Luther's father an opportunity to improve his position in his occupation and in society. Eisleben served as a temporary stopping point for the young family, before they continued on to Mansfeld a few months after Martin Luther was born.
The exhibition follows the path of the Luther family, with approx. 250 exhibits detailing the origin of the future reformer, the mining activities of his father, the piety and spirituality of the Middle Ages and Luther’s baptism. This baptism, which was the most important event for Luther during his time in Eisleben, is commemorated by a baptismal font from the 16th century from Luther’s baptismal church.
For Martin Luther, his baptism was the most important event of his life that he associated with Eisleben.
The long tradition of mining in the region is illustrated by two stone corbels crafted around 1290. These depict two people, Nappian and Neucke, working in a mine. Legend has it that they were the first two miners in Mansfelder Land.
The gravestone inscriptions in the Eisleben town cemetery are of a particularly artistic quality. The imagery is indicative of the people’s piety both before and after the Reformation, and depicts not only those who died and their families, but also scenes from the Bible with portraits of the City of Eisleben and its surrounding area. Luther also appears in some of the scenes.
In the historical building, the exhibition provides a vivid picture of domestic culture in the time around 1500. Wooden furniture and tile ovens offer an impression of how the family might have lived. They were produced according to historical models using the techniques of the time.
Hundreds of years of Luther remembrance in this location are focused on the ‘Schöne Saal’, or ‘beautiful hall’, which has served to commemorate Martin Luther since the Baroque period. It is furnished with twelve life-size portraits, as well as a sculpture of a swan whose form is unlike any other – a symbol of Martin Luther.
Even in the 17th century, the house in which Martin Luther was born in 1483 drew visitors and Luther pilgrims to Eisleben.
In 1689, the late mediaeval, half-timbered house was destroyed by a fire in the city. The house took on its current appearance as a result of the renovation work that followed the fire.
Since 2007, the historic building has been supplemented by a modern new structure and a visitor centre.