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In Autumn 1508, Martin Luther came for the first time to Wittenberg, the city which was to become his most important place of work. 500 years later, in September 2008, the Luther Decade was solemnly opened in the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

With "Luther – the Arrival" the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the city's most famous son was celebrated at many locations in Wittenberg. On September 20th, citizens and guests of the city greeted Martin Luther at the banks of the river Elbe. As it was customary in the 16th century, the monk had come across the river by boat. The laying of the foundation for the Luther Garden was also part of the opening ceremony.

Worldwide radiation

As a symbol for the worldwide radiation of the Reformation and for the connection, networking and reconciliation of Christian churches all over the world, parishes from around the globe became "godparents" for one of the 500 trees that are planned to be planted in the Luther Garden. Highlights of the celebrations were the festive service, the celebration in the monastery and a theatre play performed by the theatre project Pan.Optikum.

The beginning of the Luther Decade was the main focus of the Reformation Day in 2008. Apart from the traditional meeting of confirmation candidates , the first conference of the Decade was already held a few weeks after the opening. The conference "Reading the Traces – Effects of the Reformation" dealt with the meaning of the Reformation as a cultural factor and formulated future topics.

Luther Medal

For the first time, the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany bestowed its Luther Medal. Every year, until the Reformation anniversary in 2017, eminent representatives of German Protestantism shall be honoured with the medal. The first laureate was the Protestant theologian and songwriter Prof. Dr. Klaus-Peter Hertzsch, Jena..

All over Germany, many art projects, concerts and special exhibitions marked the beginning of the Luther Decade. The exhibition "Luther's lost property" of the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle (Saale) presented newly discovered relics of the Luther family from Luther's childhood home in Mansfeld and from the Luther House Wittenberg.