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Naumburg Cathedral

The Naumburg Cathedral is one of the most important historical monuments from the High Middle Ages in Europe. The two choir screens that separate the choirs from the nave are one of the most interesting parts of the church. It is the only church in the world with two choir screens from the High Middle Ages. The most interesting part of the cathedral is the West Choir, which has a choir screen and 12 statues of the church’s donors. The figure known as Uta was made by the Naumburg Master, and it is said to show the “most beautiful woman of the Middle Ages.”

Naumburg Cathedral

The Naumburger Dom used to be the church for the Bishopric of Naumburg-Zeitz. It is in the town of Naumburg, which is in the southern part of Saxony-Anhalt in the district of Burgenlandkreis in east-central Germany. Most of the church building is from the 13th century. The church was built in 1028, when the bishop’s seat was moved from Zeitz. It was built next to an old parish church. So, it is the old Catholic Diocese of Naumburg-Zeitz’s first church. In 2018, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

During the Reformation, both Naumburg and its church turned into Protestant places. Even now, Naumburg Cathedral is still a Protestant parish church. Naumburg Cathedral is still a Protestant parish church, and it is on the Romanesque Road in Saxony-Anhalt, which is a route for tourists. Since 1999, Naumburg Cathedral and the scenery of the rivers Saale and Unstrut were important in the High Middle Ages. The Naumburger Dom St. Peter and St. Paul is a famous example of late Romanesque architecture in Germany.

Naumburg Cathedral History

At the turn of the 9th and 10th centuries, Naumburg’s history starts. Eckard I, the Margrave of Meissen, built a house on a rock about 25 meters (82 feet) above the right bank of the Saale river, near where the Unstrut meets the Saale. The location of this castle, which was originally called “Neweburg” and later changed to “Naumburg,” was chosen because it was close to a lot of busy commercial roads.

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It was also near the historic eastern border of “East Francia,” or the “Kingdom of Germany,” and the lands of the Polabian Slavs, which became part of the Saxon Eastern March. In 1002, Ekkehard was killed at Pohlde Abbey in the Harz hills, but he couldn’t be buried there yet because neither the castle nor the attached abbey were done. Once this was done, his sons, the Meissen margraves Hermann and Ekkehard II, had his body and the bodies of his ancestors moved to the Georgenkloster in Naumburg.

In the western part of the area around the castle, Ekkehard’s sons started a small parish church. It was a church dedicated to Mary and was first recorded in 1021 in the Merseburg bishopric chronicle. In 1028, the two brothers helped convince King Conrad II and Pope John XIX to move the bishop’s seat from Zeitz to Naumburg. They did this by saying that the castle would protect the see better than Zeitz could.

Naumburger Dom

In 1044, when Bishop Hunold of Merseburg was in charge, the church was dedicated, and Peter and Paul were chosen as its patron saints after they were given that honor at Zeitz Cathedral. Around 1210, work began to rebuild the church. Only the crypt remained from the old building, and it lost its apse but grew to the east and west so that it now goes under both the new choir and the crossing.

Bishop Engelhard was in charge of building this new church from 1207 to 1422. But it didn’t stay in this late-Romanesque style for long. By the middle of the 13th century, an early-Gothic west choir had replaced the old parish church. It was most likely built by 1260. Soon after, one floor was added to the western towers. Around 1330, the Romanesque apse had to be torn down so that the high Gothic rectangular east choir could be built.

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In the 14th and 15th centuries, more floors were added to the western towers, and in 1416, the Dreikönigskapelle was blessed. In 1532, a fire burned down the cathedral’s roofs. After that, the eastern towers were built. The fire also burned down the three-aisled nave of the Mary-dedicated college church next to the cathedral, leaving only the choir. The two temporary cloisters, one to the south and one to the north of the cathedral, are there because the college church has its own.

Before the college church burned down, the clergy of the cathedral lived in the northern cloister, which no longer exists. Nicolaus von Amsdorf, the first German Protestant bishop, moved there in 1542 as part of the Reformation. After his Catholic “antibishop,” Julius von Pflug, died in 1564, the Electors of Saxony ran the Catholic Naumburg diocese until it was disbanded in 1615.


Works of art for the inside:

The Stifterfiguren by the artist known as “Naumburger Meister” or “Master of Naumburg” are probably the most famous piece of art in the church. They are also often called the most famous piece of early Gothic sculpture in Germany. The twelve life-size sculptures (eight men and four women) are in the western choir. They show nobles who helped build the church. From northeast to southeast, the following people are thought to be shown by the sculptures:

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  1. Count Konrad of Camburg, who was the nephew of Ekkehard II and Hermann I.
  2. Countess Gepa or Adelheid von Gernrode.
  3. Uta von Ballenstedt, the Margravine, and Ekkehard II, the Margrave of Meissen, as a pair.
  4. Count Thimo of Wettin, Konrad’s brother.
  5. Thimo’s nephew, Count Wilhelm of Camburg and Brehna.
  6. Count Sizzo of Schwarzburg, Wilhelm’s cousin.
  7. Count Dietmar.
  8. Margravine Reglindis and Herman I of Meissen, who was Ekkehard’s brother, as a couple.
  9. Count Dietrich of Brehna, Thimo’s nephew, and his wife, Gerburg.

The statues were made out of Grillenburg sandstone in the middle of the 1300s. Ten of the figures are part of the walls, while the other two stand alone. They used to be painted, but the bits of paint that can still be seen today are from repairs done between the 16th and 19th centuries.

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