Quedlinburg Cathedral, Germany

The first church here was founded, as was the town and Castle, by Henry the Fowler sometime before 922 AD. After Henry’s death in 936 his widow, Mathilde, founded a religious community for Nuns on the Castle Hill. This became Quedlinburg Abbey which was dedicated in 1129. A male Abbey was founded in the town, but this is now gone.

The twin towers which dominate the Abbey Church date back to the 1129 foundation, but much of the rest dates to the 1400s when Quedlinburg joined the Hanseatic League. There was frequently dispute between the Abbey and the town as to who ran Quedlinburg. In 1477 Abbess Hedwig broke the resistance of the town and Quedlinburg was forced out of the Hanseatic League.

In 1539 the town and Abbey converted to Protestantism and it is thought that this was the time when the Abbey began to operate as a Cathedral also.

From the 17th to the 19th Century the town and its Castle and Abbey/Cathedral were passed back and forth between arguing factions of Saxony, Brandenburg and Prussia. The Abbey was “secularised” in 1802 at which point it ceased its Abbey function and became purely a Cathedral. The last Abbess was Sofia Albertina who died in the early 19th Century.

With the cult of Henry the Fowler becoming an obsession for the Nazis during World War II the Castle and Cathedral of Quedlinburg were turned into shrines. Himmler, in particular, was fascinated by Henry and considered himself to be a reincarnation of the first German King. The Cathedral was closed from 1938 until liberation in 1945 when the Protestant Bishop returned to his seat and the Nazi regalia was removed from Quedlinburg.

Quedlinburg fell into East Germany (just) and so was off the tourist trail until Reunification when it was back, once again, in Saxony-Anhalt.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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