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Martin Luther got to know the cathedral city on the Elbe at an early age. In 1497, at the age of thirteen, he attended the Brethren of the Common Life School in Magdeburg. In order to earn his keep, he purportedly went through the city begging and singing, which was not at all uncommon at that time. 1524 proved to be of vital importance for Magdeburg and the Reformation: At the request of Mayor Nicolaus Sturm, Martin Luther came to the city in June of that year in order to preach. The response that his stay triggered was overwhelming. Due to the enormous crowds at his sermon in the church at the Augustinian monastery (now called the Walloon Church) on 24 June 1524, the sermon was repeated in St. John’s Church two days later.
Famous names dominate the more than 1.200-year history of the Ottostadt Magdeburg. The city was Emperor Otto the Great’s favourite residence, and Otto von Guericke – who invented the air pump – once determined the fate of the city as its mayor. But the name Ottostadt,which Magdeburg has only recently adopted, actually alludes to much more: an attitude towards life, hospitality. A very warm welcome indeed!
St. John’s Church is the oldest parish church in Magdeburg, and is a Romanesque-style, three-aisle cruciform basilica from 1131.
The history of the church is extremely eventful. Although the church was destroyed several times by fires in the city as well as by Count Tilly’s forces during the siege of the city in 1631, it was always rebuilt. St. John’s Church is also closely tied to Martin Luther’s activities in the city. On 26 June 1524 he held a famous sermon in the overcrowded church.
The Walloon Church is a High Gothic three-aisled hall church. As a former monastery church belonging to a mendicant order, its appearance is quite simple. The first stone was laid in 1285 by monks of the Order of St. Augustine, who founded the St. Augustine Monastery.