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Magdeburg ( ; Low Saxon: Meideborg, ), the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhaltmarker, Germanymarker, is situated at the Elbe River and was one of the most important medieval cities of Europe. Emperor Otto I, the first Holy Roman Emperor, lived during most of his reign in the town and was buried in the cathedral after his death. Magdeburg's version of German town law, known as Magdeburg rights, spread throughout Central and Eastern Europe. The city is also well-known for the 1631 Sack of Magdeburg, which hardened Protestant resistance during the Thirty Years' War.

History

Founded by Charlemagne in 805 as Magadoburg (probably from Old High German magad 'maid, virgin'), the town was fortified in 919 by King Henry I the Fowler against the Magyars and Slavs. In 929 the city went to Edward the Elder's daughter Edith, through her marriage with Henry's son Otto I, as a Morgengabe — a Germanic customary gift received by the new bride from the groom and his family after the wedding night. Edith loved the town and often lived there; at her death she was buried in the crypt of the Benedictine abbey of Saint Maurice, later rebuilt as the cathedral. In 937, Magdeburg was the seat of a royal assembly. Otto I also continually returned to it and was also buried in the cathedral. He granted the abbey the right to income from various tithes and to corvée labor from the surrounding countryside.

The Archbishopric of Magdeburg was founded in 968 at the synod of Ravennamarker; Adalbert of Magdeburg was consecrated as its first archbishop. The archbishopric under Tilly included the bishoprics of Havelberg, Brandenburg, Merseburg, Meissen, and Zeitz-Naumburg. The archbishops played a prominent role in the German colonization of the Slavic lands east of the Elbe river.

In 1035 Magdeburg received a patent giving the city the right to hold trade exhibits and conventions, the basis of the later family of city laws known as Magdeburg rights. These laws were adopted and modified throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Visitors from many countries begin to trade in Magdeburg. In 1118 a fire almost destroyed it.



In the 13th century, Magdeburg became a member of the Hanseatic League. With more than 20,000 inhabitants Magdeburg was one of the largest cities in the Holy Roman Empire. The town had an active maritime commerce on the west (towards Flanders), with the countries of the North Seamarker, and maintained traffic and communication with the interior (for example Brunswickmarker). The citizens constantly struggled against the archbishop, becoming nearly independent from him by the end of the 15th century.

In 1524 Martin Luther was called to Magdeburg, where he preached and caused the city's defection from Catholicism. The Protestant Reformation had quickly found adherents in the city, where Luther had been a schoolboy. Emperor Charles V repeatedly outlawed the unruly town, which had joined the Alliance of Torgau and the Schmalkaldic League. Because it had not accepted the "Interim" (1548), the city, by the emperor's commands, was besieged (1550-1551) by Maurice, Elector of Saxony, but it retained its independence. The rule of the archbishop was replaced by that of various administrators belonging to Protestant dynasties. In the following years Magdeburg gained a reputation as a stronghold of Protestantism and became the first major city to publish the writings of Luther. In Magdeburg, Matthias Flacius and his companions wrote their anti-Catholic pamphlets and the Magdeburg Centuries, in which they argued that the Roman Catholic Church had become the kingdom of the Anti-Christ.

In 1631, during the Thirty Years' War, imperial troops under Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly, stormed the city and committed a massacre, killing about 20,000 inhabitants and burning the town in the sack of Magdeburg. The city had withstood a first siege in 1629 by Albrecht von Wallenstein. After the war, a population of only 400 remained. According to the Peace of Westphalia (1648), Magdeburg was assigned to Brandenburg-Prussia after the death of the current administrator, August of Saxe-Weissenfels, as the semi-autonomous Duchy of Magdeburg; this occurred in 1680.

In the course of the Napoleonic Wars, the fortress surrendered to French troops in 1806. The city was annexed to the French-controlled Kingdom of Westphaliamarker in the 1807 Treaty of Tilsit. King Jérôme appointed Count Heinrich von Blumenthal as mayor. In 1815, after the Napoleonic Wars, Magdeburg was made the capital of the new Prussianmarker Province of Saxonymarker. In 1912, the old fortress was dismantled, and in 1908, the municipality Rothensee became part of Magdeburg,



Near the end of World War II, the city of about 340,000 became capital of the Province of Magdeburg. The Magdeburg/Rothensee plant that produced synthetic oil from lignite coal was a target of the Oil Campaign of World War II. The impressive Gründerzeit suburbs north of the city, called the Nordfront, were destroyed as well as the city's main street with its Baroque buildings. Post-war the area was part of the Soviet Zone of Occupation and many of the remaining pre-World War II city buildings were destroyed, with only a few buildings near the cathedral restored to their pre-war state. Prior to the reunification of Germany, many surviving Gründerzeit buildings were left uninhabited and, after years of degradation, waiting for demolition. From 1949 on until German reunification on 3 October 1990, Magdeburg belonged to the German Democratic Republicmarker.

In 1990 Magdeburg became the capital of the new state of Saxony-Anhaltmarker within reunified Germany. The city center was rebuilt almost exclusively in a modern style. In recent years, a community currency, the Urstromtaler, has gone into circulation alongside the euro.

Main sights and culture

The cathedral's twin spires, seen from the courtyard
Unser Lieben Frauen Monastery

Cathedral

Magdeburg's most impressive building, the Protestant Cathedral of Saints Catherine and Maurice, has a height of 104 m: the highest church building of eastern Germany. It is notable for its beautiful and unique sculptures, especially the "Twelve Virgins" at the Northern Gate, the depictions of Otto I the Great and his wife Editha as well as the statues of St Maurice and St Catherine. The statue of St Maurice (ca. 1250),holding a sword and wearing chainmail, is one of the few where Maurice is displayed as a black man with African features. Given that Maurice was an Egyptian, it is surprising that there are not more such representations. It is in fact the oldest depiction of a black person in Europe. St Catherine is dressed like a young teenage girl from the time of the statue's creation would have been - the equivalent to a girl in jeans and T-Shirt today. (Quite a scandal then.)

The predecessor of the cathedral was a church built in 937 within an abbey, called St. Maurice. Emperor Otto I the Great was buried here beside his wife in 973. St. Maurice burnt to ashes in 1207. The exact location of that church remained unknown for a long time. The foundations were rediscovered in May 2003, revealing a building 80 m long and 41 m wide.

The construction of the new church lasted 300 years. The cathedral of Saints Catherine and Maurice was the first Gothic church building of Germany. The completion of the steeples took place only in 1520.

While the cathedral was virtually the only building to survive the massacres of the Thirty Years' War, it nevertheless suffered damage in World War II. It was soon rebuilt and completed in 1955.

The place in front of the cathedral (sometimes called the Neuer Markt, or "new marketplace") was occupied by an imperial palace (Kaiserpfalz), which was destroyed in the fire of 1207. The stones of the ruin served for building the cathedral. The presumptive remains of the palace were excavated in the 1960s.

Sports

Magdeburg has a proud history of sports team, with football proving the most popular. 1. FC Magdeburg currently play in the Regionalliga Nord. Defunct clubs SV Victoria 96 Magdeburg and Cricket Viktoria Magdeburg were among the first football clubs in Germany. 1. FC Magdeburg is the only East German football club to have won a European club football competition.There is also the very successful handball team, SC Magdeburg Gladiators who are the first German team to win the EHF Champions League.

Other sights

  • Unser Lieben Frauen Monastery (Our Beloved Lady), 11th century, containing the church of St. Mary. Today a museum for Modern Art. Home of the National Collection of Small Art Statues of the GDR (Nationale Sammlung Kleinkunstplastiken der DDR).
  • The Magdeburger Reiter ("Magdeburg equestrian", 1240), the first equestrian sculpture north of the alps. It probably shows Emperor Otto I.
  • Town hall (1698). This building stood on the marketplace since the 13th century, but was destroyed in the Thirty Years' War; the new town hall was built in a Renaissance style influenced by Dutch architecture. It has been renovated and reopened in Oct 2005.
  • Landtagmarker; the seat of the government of Saxony-Anhalt with its Baroque facade built in 1724.
  • monuments depicting Otto von Guericke (1907), Eike von Repkow and Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben.
  • Ruins of the greatest stronghold of the former Kingdom of Prussiamarker.
  • Rotehorn-Park.
  • Elbauenpark containing the highest wooden structure in Germany.
  • St. John Church (Johanniskirche)
  • The Gruson-Gewächshäusermarker, a botanical garden within a greenhouse complex
  • The Magdeburg Water Bridge, Europe's longest water bridge
  • "Die Grüne Zitadelle" or The Green Citadel of Magdeburg, a large, pink building of modern architecture designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser and completed in 2005.
  • Jerusalem Bridge.


Magdeburg is one of the major towns along the Elbe Cycle Route (Elberadweg).

People



Twin Towns - Sister Cities

Magdeburg is twinned with:


See also



References

  1. Pospelov, Geograficheskiye nazvaniya mira (Moscow: Russkie slovari, 1998), p. 252.
  2. Germans take pride in local money


External links




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