Landeshauptstadt Dresden - 08.03.2018 14:45:26 Uhr 27.09.2022 01:23:58 Uhr
Katharina Luther knew Torgau to be a political focal point of the Reformation: the former residence of the Elector attracts visitors with its rich history.
© Torgau Information Centre, Photo: Dirk Brzoska

Following the footsteps of “die Lutherin” through Torgau

Idyllic scenes along the Elbe River, a small town with a big history: that is my Torgau. By your leave, my name is Katharina von Bora – better known as "die Lutherin". Even if I spent most of my life with my husband, the reformer Martin Luther, in Wittenberg, Torgau was always a familiar home for me. This is where our sovereigns lived, this is where I found shelter in the last days of my life. Come with me on a walk through the town!

Tips from Katharina von Bora

  • Today Dresden is the capital of Saxony, but back in my day Torgau was the residence of the Electors of Saxony. More than 100 kilometres separates the two cities, the Elbe River connects them. On the banks of the Elbe River here in Torgau looms Hartenfels Palace which was built during the Renaissance. The Torgau Palace Chapel was the first newly built Lutheran church and was consecrated by my husband in 1544.

  • In the former chambers of the Elector of Saxony in the Hartenfels Palace thou canst see a permanent exhibition on John Frederick I, called John the Magnanimous – the ruler who felt closely bound to my husband. The characteristics that an Elector had to have in those times are listed in the title of the exhibition, which is called "Standfest. Bibelfest. Trinkfest." ("True to his principles, true to the bible, true to his liquor.") that was John Frederick I.

  • From this period, we also have the tradition of the Torgauer Geharnischten. The Elector made use of this militia in 1542. The "Auszugsfest der Torgauer Geharnischten" (roughly "The Festival of the Attack of the Armoured Militia") is held in commemoration of this event. This year it is being celebrated from 10 until 13 May, for the 291st time, including an impressive parade. Today, no one has to fear the "Geharnischten" (the "Armoured ones") any more. For over 300 years now they have only been – a very impressive – parade troop.

  • And speaking of impressive: that can also be said of the architecture that makes up most of Torgau’s old city and which ranges from Gothic to Renaissance. Taketh your time for a pleasant stroll! The Torgauer Museumspfad (Torgau Museum Route) connects several historic buildings. The former chancellery of the Elector of Saxony is now the City and Cultural History Museum. Very much worth seeing are the Bürgermeister-Ringenhain-Haus (Mayor Ringenhain House) and the historic Handwerkerhaus (craftsman’s house). These two houses show how the poor and the rich people used to live. There, where I spent my time in Torgau, thou canst now see the Katharina-Luther-Room. In the city church St. Marien there is an epitaph in my memory.

  • After the Electors of Saxony took up residence in Dresden things became a bit quieter in Torgau. But the city still made history. On 25 April 1945 American and Soviet Troops met at the Torgau bridge across the Elbe River. This was an important signal for the end of World War II. This meeting in Torgau, which went into the history books, is commemorated with the annual Elbe Day. From 27 to 29 April there is live music on the banks of the river and cultural events in the city in commemoration of this event.