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Birthplace of Thomas Müntzer
The theologian and peasant leader Thomas Müntzer was born in the Harz town of Stolberg in 1489. The minting of coins had a long tradition in the town which is made evident by his surname Müntzer which means ‘coiner’ in English. Martin Luther came to Stolberg on 21 April 1525 and preached against the rebelling peasants from the pulpit of St. Martin’s Church. However, without success. On 2 May 1525, the same rebellious peasants managed to force their way into the town in the southern Harz and compelled Count Botho of Stolberg to accept their demands. On a hillside overlooking the city stands the so-called Luther Beech (Lutherbuche) tree memorial. Legend has it that in 1525, on the Friday after Easter, Luther and his friend Wilhelm Reifenstein went on a hike in the mountains near Stolberg. The beech tree marks the spot where the two of them were supposed to have looked down upon the town. It is said that Luther used the occasion to compare Stolberg’s townscape to a bird, describing Stolberg Castle (Schloss Stolberg) as its head, the market square as its rump and the three alleys leading to it as its wings and tail respectively.
The spectacular landscape of the Southern Harz region and medieval charm of the town of Stolberg with its half-timbered houses offer plenty of sightseeing options – Stolberg is a lovely destination for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the history of Central Germany. Many prominent individuals who were born in Stolberg or visited, lived or worked here have left their mark on the history of Europe. Thomas Müntzer is one of them.
The parish church in Stolberg still features a glass window containing an image of Martin Luther as well as paintings of both Luther and Melanchthon. On the site of the house where Thomas Müntzer was born – the original burned down in 1851 – in what is now called Thomas-Müntzer-Gasse, stands the Thomas Müntzer House. A commemorative plaque on a modern half-timbered house honours the theologian and former leader of the peasant uprising.
The local history museum, the "Kleines Bürgerhaus", is a typical late Gothic building and exhibits everyday items and other examples of home furnishings to show how people lived from the seventeenth to nineteenth century. Stolberg Castle, originally constructed in the thirteenth century and formerly the residence of the princes and counts of Stolberg, stands above the town on a hill with steep drops on three of its sides. The view that visitors have over the southern Harz range from the Große Auerberg (579m) is one-of-a-kind. Atop its peak stands a wooden observation tower, the so-called Joseph Cross, which was built in neo-Gothic style in the form of a double cross.
Things to see in Stolberg (Harz)