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Sachsen-Anhalt

Luther's place

Osterwieck
Confessions in truss

Confessions in truss

Osterwieck

During the Age of the Reformation, this small city at the foothills of the Harz Mountains played a pioneering role. Its residents were among the first to adopt Luther’s teachings and a Lutheran preacher was called to the city as early as 1535. The beams of the half-timbered houses in Osterwieck bear the earliest Protestant inscriptions: Short phrases, biblical quotations, psalms. The tradition was started by the mayor of the time, Michael Steggeler, who had the inscription "VDMIAE = Verbum Dominum Manet in Aeternum" ("But the word of the Lord endureth for ever") carved on his house.

Experience Osterwieck

Today, forty-one of these inscriptions can still be found carved into the sill-beams and parapets of around 400 timber-framed houses (Fachwerkhäuser) located in the historic city centre. Osterwieck is also home of one of the very first Protestant churches, St. Stephan’s town church. Between 1552 and 1557, St. Stephan’s was rebuilt on the site where a previous nave had been demolished and was subsequently consecrated in the name of Protestant Christianity. This house of prayer contains a more than 500-year-old Gothic altar as well as a number of epitaphs and plaques commemorating the town’s nobility and its wealthy burghers. The oldest house in Osterwieck is the former town hall, which now home to the museum of local history. The exhibitions on display serve to guide visitors along the path of the city’s history, beginning with prehistoric exhibits from well before it was founded.

City and Tourist Information Osterwieck

Am Markt 10
38835 Osterwieck

Phone: +49 (0)39421 793555
Mail: stadtinformation@stadt-osterwieck.de
Web: www.stadt-osterwieck.de

To read on

www.st-stephani.de

What to see in Osterwieck

timber-framed houses

Talking Houses

In Osterwieck, the houses speak. Not verbal - but if they could, they would have a lot to tell. At a total of 43 houses in the Old Town Osterwiecks you can see house inscriptions from the time of the reformer. However, they do not confine themselves as usual to information on the edification of the house, but convey very clear messages.

Fachwerk plays a big role in Osterwieck. A total of 400 half-timbered houses are protected monuments from the late gothic and renaissance period. Here are the so-called "fan rosettes" to see. At Osterwieck's "Old Bailiwick" they are dated to the year 1533 and are thus likely to be the oldest surviving fan rosettes according to the current state of research.

But much more interesting than the architectural style are the house inscriptions. After this is first handed down from Braunschweig in 1530, also the Osterwiecker confessed in 1533 in Latin and German with Protestant foreign exchange, Bible quotations, psalms to the Protestant faith - quite an impudence to their sovereign, Cardinal Albrecht, who was not only bishop in Halberstadt but also Archbishop of Magdeburg and Archbishop and Elector in Mainz. Again and again one finds "Verbum domini manet in aeternum" - to German: "the word of the gentleman remains in eternity" - this was nevertheless the motto of the Schmalkaldic federation of the Protestant princes and cities. Here in Osterwieck it is 1534 for the first time at a house on the Schulzenstraße 9 handed down. The naked boy with his head over a skull symbolizes the "transience of the earthly" over the "eternity of the word of God".

"He who fears the Lord has a strong fortress" and "alone" God's word is eternal "is even said at Schützenstraße 2 - this is" Osterwiecker Reformation "par excellence! The ornaments at the beginning and at the end of the text quotes are called magic knots - they symbolize infinity.

House inscriptions are filigree carvings that have been either positively or negatively carved into the timber of the framework. Originally they were not highlighted in color, but lived protected by an oil painting, only the play of light and shadow - as can be seen on the wooden panels on the not yet restored "Old Post" in Nicolaistraße 2 well. Had not been carved here, but only worked with color, the almost 500 years old inscriptions could - long since faded - no longer recognize.

It is written in the house of Sun-clover 40: "Cast your request upon the Lord, he will take care of you, and he shall not forsake the righteous, nor go to his seed for bread" (Ps 37:25). "It is all in the blessing of God" (Luther's title of Psalm 127). The many inscriptions in German would not have been possible without the translation of the Bible by Martin Luther.

"The High House" in Nicolaistraße 30 towers over the neighboring houses on three floors. On it is written the Bible saying, "The fear of the Lord makes the heart happy, and gives joy and pleasure forever." (Jesus Sirach 1:12) and the popular saying, "Do nothing without a turn, so do not go after it."

contact information

www.hausinschriften-thiele-wolfenbuettel.de

books (in german)

HARZFORSCHUNG 21: Osterwieck – Frühe Mission und frühprotestantische Bilderwelten
ISBN 3-936872-63-5

HARZFORSCHUNG 26: Osterwieck – die Fachwerkstadt aus dem Reformationsjahrhundert
ISBN: 978-3-86732-075-7

Osterwieck – die Stadt des Fachwerks und der Reformation
ISBN 978-3-00-049328-7

Die frühprotestantische Kirche St. Stephan in Osterwieck
ISBN 978-3-00-051687-0

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Married couple Thiele, Osterwieck

Liselotte Thiele and her late husband Dr Klaus Thiele spent many years researching these inscriptions. The couple were passionate advocates for the conservation and renovation of the Stephanikiche (Church of St Stephen) and many other Reformation-era buildings. The city of Osterwieck owes a debt of gratitude to the couple from Wolfenbüttel.

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Contact information

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Sachsen-Anhalt mbH
Am Alten Theater 6
39104 Magdeburg

Phone: +49 391/568 99 80
tourismus@img-sachsen-anhalt.de
www.sachsen-anhalt-tourismus.de

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