Clinging to a scenic stretch of the Elbe, 84km southeast of Magdeburg, the neat little town of Wittenberg is so inextricably associated with Martin Luther that it renamed itself LUTHERSTADT WITTENBERG. It was here that in 1508 the Augustinian monk arrived to study at the university of a relatively obscure three-thousand-strong town and ended up sparking off one of the most important philosophical debates in world history, catapulting the town to prominence and triggering the Protestant Reformation. Now Wittenberg basks in the glory of its golden era by celebrating the homes, workplaces and graves of the cast of characters who together created the Protestant Rome. Among them were professor and theologian Philipp Melanchthon, who added intellectual clout, and painter and printmaker Lucas Cranach the Elder, who, with his son, created a tangible image for the whole movement, which could be widely disseminated thanks to the recently invented printing press. Elector of Saxony Frederick the Wise, who shielded them all from the Papacy, lies buried in the town’s Schlosskirche.
Fittingly all the main festivals in Wittenberg revolve around Luther: the big events are the celebration of Luther’s marriage in early June and Reformation Tag on October 31, which celebrates the publication of his 95 theses. Collegienstrasse, Wittenberg’s high street, becomes Schlossstrasse at its western end. Together they join virtually every sight in town.