Inside the monastery is a permanent Luther exhibition, the restored monastic cell of Brother Martin, and a Reformation Library with rare books. And you can sleep here, too! The Augustinerkloster includes a conference center with 51 comfortable guest rooms (far cushier than Luther's ascetic lifestyle).
History of Augustinerkloster
The Augustinerkloster was founded by Augustinian monks (an order that follows the Rule of St. Augustine) who settled in Erfurt in the 13th century. The church and the majority of monastery buildings were constructed between 1276 and 1340.
By the time Martin Luther joined the order on July 17, 1505, the Augustinerkloster was a respected center of Catholic learning with a theological college and an extensive library.
Luther was a monk here from 1505 to 1511. In early 1505, he had just received a Master of Arts from the University of Erfurt and was planning to enter law school in accordance with his stern father's wishes. But on July 2, 1505, Luther was caught in a terrible thunderstorm and feared he would be struck dead by lightning. He called out to St. Anne, patron saint of his father's profession of mining, "Help me! And I'll become a monk."
Luther survived, as we know, and faithfully kept his vow: he joined the Augustinerkloster in Erfurt on July 17. Like all new monks, Luther began as a novice and then took his monastic vows in 1506.
In 1507, Luther was ordained priest and began studying theology at the University of Erfurt. In 1512, he received his doctorate and became a professor at the University of Erfurt. (See Luther in Erfurt for more on this period of Luther's life.)
After the Reformation came at the hands of their Brother Martin, the Augustinian Monastery of Erfurt was secularized (the last monk died in 1556). Over the next few centuries, the buildings were used for a grammar school, a library, an orphanage, and a government assembly hall. In 1646, the monastery was damaged by a lightning bolt, which is ironic since Martin Luther became a monk here after being saved from a thunderstorm that terrified him!
After centuries of lying dormant, the monastic church was restored and reconsecrated in 1851. During World War II, the Augustinerkloster was the site of a great tragedy. A British bombing raid on February 25, 1945, destroyed much of the monastery, killing 267 people who had taken shelter in the cellars beneath the library. Reconstruction began in 1946 and was completed in 1957.
A seminary occupied the restored buildings from 1960 until 1993. The Lutheran Church subsequently completed restoration work on the church where Luther took his vows and turned the monastery's east and west wings into a conference center.
Today, the monastery is also home to seven sisters of the Casteller Ring Community, a Protestant religious order in the Benedictine tradition whose members take vows of poverty, obedience, and celibacy.
What to See at Augustinerkloster
Although many monasteries were simply left abandoned after the Reformation, the Augustinerkloster in Erfurt is not one of them! It is a working Lutheran church and cloister that offers regular worship services, a 60,000-volume historical library, guided tours, a café, and a conference center with 51 guest rooms.
For Luther pilgrims, the main attraction of the Augustinerkloster is Luther's monastic quarters. The "Bible - Monastery - Luther" exhibit opened in 2002 and occupies the former monks' quarters. The monks studied or worked in their cells but slept outside their cell doors in the hall. One cell has been furnished as it might have looked in Luther's time, except of course for the portrait of Luther on the wall!
The Augustinian Church is the oldest part of the monastery, occupying the site of a parish church of St. Phillip and St. Jacob that was built in 1131. The church and the monastery buildings date from 1276-1340, although they were much restored after the extensive war damage. The church is attractive, with three aisles and a noteworthy collection of original Gothic stained-glass windows (early 14th century), one of which portrays the life of St. Augustine in multiple scenes.
In the summer, the Augustinerkloster's hosts 10pm concerts in the church or the monastery courtyard.
The guest rooms are modern and comfortable, and have no TV or radio on principle. As of 2006, a single room is €45 and a double room is €38 per person per night. Breakfast is included.
Quick Facts on Augustinerkloster
|Names:||Augustinerkloster · Augustinian Monastery|
|Categories:||monasteries; Reformation history sites|
|Faiths:||Lutheranism; Augustinian Order|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||50.981445° N, 11.030080° E|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Augustinerkloster|
- The Rough Guide to Germany 6.
- Evangelisches Augustinerkloster zu Erfurt - official site (German only)
- The Augustinian Monastery in Erfurt - Routes to Luther
- Augusinterkloster - Europe for Visitors
- Photos of Augustinerkloster - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Augustinerkloster, Erfurt
Below is a location map and aerial view of Augustinerkloster. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.