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Magdeburg is the capital of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It is located on the Elbe river. As of 1999, its population was 245,500.

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Magdeburg was one of the most important medieval cities of Germany. Emperor Otto I stayed during most of his regency in the town and was buried in the cathedral after his death. Following is a chronicle of the town's history:

  • 805 First recorded mentioning in the Diedenhof Capitulary as Magadoburg. Although the settlement at the place had existed for centuries, the first mentioning of Magdeburg was under emperor Charlemagne, when he secured the small fishing and trading town.

  • 929 Henry I arranged with king Edward the Elder for Edward's daughter Edith (Editha, Eadgyth) to marry Otto I, son of Henry. At Otto and Edith's wedding she received Magdeburg as a Morgengabe. A Morgengabe is a Germanic customary gift received by the new bride from the groom and his family after the wedding night.

  • 937 A royal assembly at was held in Magdeburg. At the same time, the abbey of St. Maurice, later the cathedral, was founded.

  • 946 Queen Edith died and was buried in the abbey church crypt.

  • 968 At the Synod of Ravenna, Magdeburg is elevated to the status of archbishopric and Adalbert is consecrated first Archbishop.

  • 973 Emperor Otto I dies and is buried in the cathedral of Magdeburg.

  • 1035 Magdeburg is granted a patent giving the city the right to hold trade exibits and conventions. Many visitors from many countries trade in Magdeburg.

  • 1524 Martin Luther is called to Magdeburg, where he preaches and causes the city's defection from Catholicism. In the following years Magdeburg was considered to be a stronghold of Protestantism. The emperor outlaws the unruly town.

  • 1631 During the Thirty Years' War imperial troops storm the city and commit a massacre. About 20,000 inhabitants are killed. After the war only a population of 400 is left in the totally destroyed town.

  • 1654 Otto von Guericke made the Magdeburg hemispheres, two hollow shells with rings for attaching ropes, put them together with grease, and evacuated the air with a pump that he had invented some years before. Sixteen horses couldn't pull them apart.

  • 1945 After World War II Magdeburg is almost totally destroyed due to Allied air raids. It is considered to be the third most destroyed city of Germany (after Dresden and Cologne). American and Soviet troops occupy the city, but the Americans leave soon.

  • 1990 Magdeburg becomes the capital of the new state of Saxony-Anhalt within reunified Germany.

Cathedral of Magdeburg

The cathedral "Saint Catherine and Maurice" is the most impressive building of Magdeburg. With a height of 104 m it is the highest sacral building of eastern Germany.

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

The construction of the new church lasted 300 years. The cathedral St. Catherine and Maurice was the first Gothic sacral building of Germany. The steeples were not completed before 1520.

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

The place in front of the cathedral (sometimes called "new marketplace", Neuer Markt) 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 remains of the palace were excavated in the 1960s.

Other sights

  • Monastery "Unser Lieben Frauen" (literally "Our Beloved Lady"), 11th century, containing the church St. Mary.

  • Town hall (1698); there has been a town hall at the marketplace since the 13th century, but it was destroyed in the Thirty Years' War; the new town hall was built in a Renaissance style influenced by Dutch architecture.

  • Landtag; the seat of the government of Saxony-Anhalt is a Baroque palace built in 1724.

  • Monuments: there are monuments in the city depicting emperor Otto I (old marketplace, 1240) and Otto von Guericke (1907).

External link

Official Magdeburg homepage (English) (http://www.magdeburg-tourist.de/english.phtml)

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