Discover Merseburg Cathedral at the top of the hill, an important symbol of the history and the cultural heritage of the city. Since its existence, it has gone through major changes and reconstructions, presenting an early Romanesque style that switched to a Gothic one. Nevertheless, it is one of the best models of preserved Romanesque architecture out there. If you are an architecture follower, you don't want to miss out.
A testament to the history
Located in the south of Saxony-Anhalt, the Merseburg Cathedral was built in 981 in the hill of the Castle of Merseburg overlooking the river Saale. It was sanctified by King Henry. But the Romanesque construction didn't start till 1015 when it was commanded by Bishop Thietmar. In the 1500s, under Bishop Thilo von Trotha command, the nave was rebuilt using a Gothic style, which is also reflected in one of the eastern towers. From all the 43 Bishops that reigned the diocese of Merseburg, Thilo Von Trotha is well-known for the legend of the Raven. You can read about it in the description of the Castle of Merseburg.
What you'll see
Today, the church is owned by the Roman Catholic congregation and it features altars from the 16th century and a bronze grave memorial of Rudolf of Rheinfelden – the oldest European pictorial grave slab of the Duke of Sabia. A Romanesque crucifix and a 12th-century baptismal font can also be found in the interior. The hall crypt of the church was built between 1015 and 1042. It is one of the oldest ones as well as highly preserved still available in the world – a striking looking piece. The paintings you will observe inside are from new ones made in the 20th century by Charles Crodel who created them with similar medieval tones.
The famous Organ
The church is most famous for the renowned Ladegast Organ – completed in 1855 by organ builder Friedrich Ladegast. With a Baroque façade, it contains 5687 pipes. This instrument plays an important role in the history of German Romantic music. The builder used Barker machines in his organs, a technique he learned when he was in Paris. He also included more flues compared to other builders of the century. When you hear the melody that comes out, it is a full, round sound that is typical of Romantic instruments. It will be your lucky day if you attend a mass service when it's playing, otherwise, make sure you travel in September for the Merseburg Organ festival, when the city is taken back to the medieval ages.