The Dom had its beginnings in 937 with an abbey, and the cathedral was constructed over a 300 year
period starting in 1209. The first cathedral burned on Good Friday 1207 in a city fire. Archbishop
Albrecht II von Kefernburg erected a new cathedral on the site in 1209, but the old crypt remains.
The Dom was continuously constructed and refined over the span of 300 years, ending sometime
after 1274, but briefly resuming under Archbishop Otto von Hessen. The Dom was opened in 1363,
and construction stopped again until 1477 under Archbishop Ernst von Sachsen. The construction of
the cathedral was completed in 1520.
The Magdeburger Dom (the Cathedral of Magdeburg) is one of the oldest Gothic cathedrals and one
of the tallest cathedrals in eastern Germany. The Dom has always been the landmark of Magdeburg,
and is home to graves of several figures of ancient European royalty, among them Emperor Otto I
the Great who funded the first church and Eadgyth (Edith) of England, possibly the oldest member
of the English royal family whose remains have survived.
Allied bombing completely destroyed the windows. During most intense firebombing on January 16,
1945, bombs hit the cathedral's west side, causing horrific destruction and destroying the organ.
When Magdeburg became a leader in the Protestant reformation, the priests of the cathedral
converted to Protestantism, holding the first Protestant mass here in 1567. In 1631, during the Sack
of Magdeburg, only the 4000 citizens who sought refuge in the cathedral survived the carnage. The
cathedral survived the burning of the city, but only after being forcibly re-dedicated as Catholic.
However, the Protestants shot out its beautiful windows, but
Tilly's Catholic forces re-took the
cathedral before leaving the city. At the end of the Thirty Years War, Magdeburg had a population of
only 400 left of its 20,000 people. It became a large fortress and a part of Brandenburg until 1806
when it was given to Napoleon who used the cathedral as a horse barn. After French occupation
ended in 1814, Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia had the cathedral was repaired and its windows
restored.
The Magdeburger Dom
The Dom before and after 1945
Magdeburg in 1900, above, in 1639 at top and in 1945, below
The rest of Magdeburg fared even worse. The violent firebombing demolished the city and killed
thousands before it was sentenced to decades of communist slavery.
A Bismarck-Monument stood in lovely Scharnhorst Square in Magdeburg. In 1951, the old
monument was dismantled on "ideological grounds" per the orders of the communist government.
This street, originally named in honor of the great Prussian General Gerhard von Scharnhorst, was
renamed "Haeckel Street" by the communists and Scharnhorst Square was renamed "Peace Place".
"Let God sort them out....."