This town is a monument to Luther’s reform spirit. In Torgau, the spiritual center of the German Reformation, Hartenfels Castle is the most significant building of the townscape, an outstanding masterpiece in one of Germany’s most beautiful Renaissance towns. This is where the »Torgau Articles« laid the foundation for the Augsburg Confession, where the first Protestant songbook was published, and where the Protestant rulers signed the »Torgau League of Princes«. This is also where Luther’s wife Katharina von Bora died and was buried in St. Mary’s Church. The castle courtyrad is dominated by the Large Spiral Staircase: This »impossible staircase« by the great architect Konrad Krebs supports itself without the aid of any central pillar.
Additional access information for wheelchair users and persons with reduced mobility:
- Castle chapel and courtyard are easily accessible for wheelchair users
- Lapidarium is only accessible with assistance: Access via Elbstraße, doorstep of 4 cm at entrance door, ramp (12% gradient, 4 m length) into cellar
After the death of Frederick the Wise, who had already turned Hartenfels Castle in Torgau into a residence, his brother John became Elector; he had already been co-regent since the death of their father Ernest. John had a positive attitude towards the Reformation and cultivated a friendly relationship with the Reformers, earning him his epithet “the Steadfast”. Under him, Torgau became the political center of the Reformation. In 1526, the League of Torgau was founded, an interest group of Protestant rulers. His eldest son, John Frederick “the Magnanimous” followed him in 1532. He completed the expansion of Hartenfels Castle, including the Great Wendelstein, the “incredible staircase” erected between 1533 and 1536, which is still something of a mystery for architects. It soars like a spindle without support over two stories. At the upper portal is the first graphic representation of Luther in a medal. In October 1544 Martin Luther officially opened Torgau’s Castle Church, the first newly-built Protestant church.