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Magdeburg, capital of Germany's state of Sachsen-Anhalt, is situated at an elevation of 50 m on the river Elbe. The first mention of Magadoburg is found in a document of AD 805. The town proper, together with monastery St. Mauritis; was founded by King (later Emperor) Otto I in 937. The monastery received important privileges in 965. The first cathedral was built by Otto I in 955 and Magdeburg became the seat of an Archbishop in 968. The formal charter of the town's rights of 1188 (Magdeburger Stadtrecht) became the basis for many town charters during the following centuries. Magdeburg joined the Hanse federation of trading towns around 1300. The town grew steadily and already by around 1460 could boast 14 churches and a fortification with 14 gates. The residence of the Archbishops was moved to Halle in 1503, and the Reformation was introduced to all churches of Magdeburg in 1524. Despite being banned by the Empire in 1547, Magdeburg defended its Protestant faith in 1550/51. The first Protestant mass in the cathedral was held in 1567. However, Magdeburg was conquered and almost completely destroyed by the Imperial troops under general Tilly in 1631. After the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1648, the former status of Magdeburg as a Free Imperial Town was not reinstated. In 1680, Magdeburg became part of the Electorate of Brandenburg and was transformed into the strongest Prussian fortress. After a short period of French government as part of the Kingdom of Westphalia, Magdeburg became the capital of the Prussian Province Saxony in 1815. During the late 19th century, Magdeburg became a centre of machine industry. The fortifications were dismantled in 1870, and the formal status of a fortified city was dropped in 1912. At the end of World War II, on 16 January 1945, Magdeburg was largely destroyed by an allied bomb raid. Almost 60% of the whole town and 90% of the old town centre were destroyed. After the war, parts of the old town were renovated.
The Dom (Cathedral) Sankt Katharina und Mauritius [left, no. 1155; right, no. 803] was erected on the foundations of the original cathedral that had been founded by Otto I in 955 and was destroyed by a fire in 1207. The chancel and its chapels were built from 1209 until 1220. The second building period of 12201235 included parts of the chancel and the nave. Finally the nave was extended to reach its present length of 120 m between 1274 and 1363. For more than 100 years no further works were carried out. The church was finished by the addition of the towers (104 m high) in 14771520. The church still retains some parts of the older, Romanesque church, most notably the tomb of Otto I (912973, King 936; Emperor 962). After World War II the cathedral was reopened in 1955.
A famous figure of Magdeburg's history is the inventor Otto von GUERICKE (16021686). He is most famous for his experiments using copper half-spheres to produce an experimental vacuum proving the finiteness of air pressure and calculating its magnitude. An original pair of these half-spheres, built in 1663 and intended for a presentation at the court of the Elector of Brandenburg, is held in the German Museum (Deutsches Museum) at Munich. Guericke also was elected mayor of Magdeburg in 1646.
The Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum [near left, no. 1507] was built in 19041906. It was named for Emperor Friedrich III, the second German emperor (ruled 99 days from 9th of March to 15th of June, 1888). The building suffered heavy damages in 1945. Today it is named Kulturhistorisches Museum (Museum of Cultural History). Its most famous exhibit is the 'Magdeburger Reiter', the oldest stand-alone equine monument north of the Alps. It was created around 1240 and is thought to represent Emperor Otto I (912973, king 936, emperor 962). The monument was destroyed during World War II but was restored after the war.
The famous Baroque composer Georg Philipp Telemann (16811767) was born in Magdeburg.
The music festival 'Magdeburger Telemann-Festtage' was founded in 1962.