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Melanchthon House, Wittenberg

Facade of the Melanchthon House, a fine Renaissance mansion of 1536. View all images in our Melanchthon House Photo Gallery.
The Study Room and Death Chamber on the first floor.
Another view of the Study Room and Death Chamber of Melanchthon.
Wall with cupboards and locking wooden chest in the Study.
Display of original Reformation manuscripts.
The Students' Room.
Coat of arms dated 1538 in the Students' Room.
Other side of the Students' Room.
Collegienstrasse, looking west from the Melanchthonhaus.

The Melanchthonhaus is the grand Wittenberg home of Philipp Melanchthon, Martin Luther's right-hand man and the greatest scholar of the early Reformation. It was purpose-built for the reformer and his family in 1535-39 and he lived here until his death in 1590.

History

Philipp Schwartzerd arrived in Wittenberg as a professor of Greek in 1519, at the tender age of 21. Because of his expertise in Greek and humanist leanings, he was given the name Melanchthon by his humanist great-uncle. It is simply a Greek form of his German surname: both mean "black earth."

Already influenced by the Christian humanist ideas of Erasmus and others before his arrival in Wittenberg, Melanchthon became a follower of Luther's theology in Wittenberg. He lacked Luther's confidence and had a strong distaste for conflict, but Melanchthon had a sharper intellect and was primarily responsible for the articulation of the Protestant doctrines. The Augsburg Confession, the Lutheran statement of faith, was written mostly by Melanchthon.

In 1520, when Melanchthon got married, he bought himself a house on Collegienstrasse. The small half-timbered house had fallen into disrepair when, in order to link the famous teacher with the University of Wittenberg, Elector Johann Frederick commissioned a new house for him in 1535. The elector's treasury contributed half of the cost (500 florins) and the university donated 250 florins.

The three-story mansion was complete enough for the family to take up residence in the autumn of 1536, but was not fully completed for another three years. The architect is unknown, but one of the builders was Melancthon's brother-in-law.

After Melanchthon's death, the house was first used by his daughter and son-in-law, then by professors, teachers, craftsmen, and even refugees of war. The successive inhabitants adapted the house to their own needs - in some places there are 20 coats of paint over the original layer! Only minor changes were made to the architecture itself. The staircase was moved to its present position at the turn of the 18th century.

In 1897, the Prussian state acquired the building. In 1898-99 renovation works recreated the study and death chamber on the middle floor. In 1996-97 the Melanchthonhaus was extensively renovated and opened again with a modern permanent exhibition.

What to See

The Melancthonhaus is one of the finest remaining Renaissance houses in Wittenberg. Its tall white facade with a finger-like gable overlooks Collegienstrasse in central Wittenberg.

Since it was purpose-built for a famous scholar along with his family and guests, the house was very spacious and finely appointed. There was a large reception room on the ground floor and the two upper floors have large rooms for study and living. The kitchen is believed to have been in the middle of the ground floor.

Like the Lutherhaus, the well-preserved house of Melanchthon functions as a museum with excellent modern displays on the reformer's life and career, including many manuscripts and historical prints. The highly informative signs are in both German and English.


Quick Facts on the Melanchthon House

Site Information
Names:Melanchthon House; Melanchthon House, Wittenberg; Melanchthonhaus
City:Wittenberg
State:Saxony-Anhalt
Country:Germany
Categories:Museums; Historical Sites
Faiths:Christianity; Lutheran
Feat:Reformation History
Styles:Renaissance
Dates:1535-39
Status:museum
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Wittenberg, Germany
Coordinates:51.864643° N, 12.651556° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of the Melanchthon House

Below is a location map and aerial view of the Melanchthon House. 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.

References

  1. Personal visit (March 11, 2008).
  2. Excellent signs in the museum.
  3. Melanchthonhaus - Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt

More Information

Article Info

Title:Melanchthon House, Wittenberg
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:06/10/2010
Permalink:www.sacred-destinations.com/germany/wittenberg-melanchthonhaus/germany/wittenberg-luther-house
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