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Luther's safe haven and scriptorium

Luther Room
Luther Room at Veste Coburg (Photo: Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg)

From April until October 1530, Martin Luther sought protection at the fortress Veste Coburg. Elector John the Steadfast had left him behind in Coburg, on the way to Augsburg where the Augsburg Confession was to be proclaimed during the Imperial Diet. The Reformer had been excommunicated and was under imperial ban. To continue his journey would have put him in great danger.

A productive time

The Reformer was given to rooms next to the Great Hall. There, he wrote to Philipp Melanchthon and his family, worked at the translations of the Bible and of texts by Aesop, and composed more than a dozen programmatic treatises. The stay in Coburg became one of the most productive times of his life.

“Hedwig's Cup” once belonged to Martin Luther (Photo: Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg)

The so-called Luther Rooms at the fortress are a memorial to this stay. Today, the rooms contain portraits of the Reformer and his wife, painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder, as well as pictures, etchings, coins and medals that illustrate the events of these months, which were so fundamental to religious history.

The central exhibit is “Hedwig's Cup” from the 12th century, which belonged to Elizabeth of Thuringia and later contained her relics. Finally, it became part of the treasure of religious objects in Wittenberg. After the collection was dissolved, it came in the possession of Martin Luther

Luther memorabilia

Soon after Luthers death, visitors came to Coburg in order to see “Doctor Luther's rooms”. In the 19th century, the remembrance of the Reformer's stay gained increasing significance for the self-conception of the house of Saxony-Coburg. In 1844, in the context of the historicized refurbishment of the Veste, a heavily decorated “Reformer's Room” was built, which has partly been preserved and can be visited. When the last reigning Duke, Carl Eduard, took up his rule in 1905, his citizens presented him with the renovation of the Castle Chapel, which came to be called “Luther Chapel”.

Art collections of Veste Coburg

The art collections of Veste Coburg include weapons and suits of armour, hunting gear, carriages and sleighs, an extensive collection of glass objects, and other arts and craft items from the Renaissance to the present age. Old German art is also on display: eminent sculptures and paintings, including numerous works by Cranach and one creation by Grünewald. The Fortress's Print Room houses one of the largest collection of prints in Germany.