Exploring Naumburg Cathedral

Discoveries between the Elisabeth Chapel and the roof trusses

By State Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

State Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt

Cathedral Garden, comprehensive view from the south (2010) by Birgit PätzigOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Imagine yourself: You are in the Elisabeth Chapel of Naumburg Cathedral. Above you rises the north-west tower. Such a heavy tower needs mighty masonry. It is so thick that it creates a constant climate in the Romanesque Elisabeth Chapel. That is why the chapel was used as a depot in post-medieval times. It was not until 2007 that it was opened to the public again: on the occasion of the 800th birthday of St. Elisabeth. Now the chapel is a "room of silence".

Elisabeth Chapel (1245) by unknownOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

The first two floors of all four towers of Naumburg Cathedral contain chapel or treasure rooms, which, due to the relatively early construction of the towers, are among the earliest rooms that were completed in the new building of the 13th century and accordingly still display a rich repertoire of late Romanesque formal language. On the first floor of the northwest tower is the chapel of St. Elizabeth of Thuringia, canonized by Pope Gregory IX in 1235.

Probably already a year later relics of the saint came to Naumburg, where a separate chapel was established for her. To this day, one of the oldest sculptures of the saint from the time shortly after her canonization has been preserved here. The skull has a sepulcrum, which once housed relics.

Elisabeth Chapel, Elisabeth window “farewell” (2007) by Neo RauchOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

In the saint's jubilee year of 2007, the chapel received new stained glass windows, based on designs by the well-known Leipzig artist Neo Rauch, ...

Elisabeth Chapel, Elisabeth window (2007) by Neo RauchOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

... depicting scenes from the life of St. Elizabeth (saying goodbye to her husband before leaving for the Crusade, giving clothes to the poor, and caring for the sick).

Baptistery (13th century) by late Romanesque workshopOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Baptistery

The baptistery is located in the chapel room under the southeast tower of the cathedral church. The stoned saint shown there is considered the first Christian martyr (arch-martyr). The chapel belongs to the four oldest patron saints, which are already handed down in the predecessor building of the 11th century (besides Peter and Paul, St. John and the altar of the cross). It ends with a semicircular apse, which was part of the Romanesque exterior façade in the 13th century. In modern times, the room served at times as a sacristy and since the 19th century as a baptistery.

Baptistery, Kuzio window (2014) by Thomas KuzioOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

In the apse there is a window assembled in 1938 from medieval fragments coming from Meissen; donation of the canon Tilo von Wilmowsky. In the south wall there are two windows by the artist Thomas Kuzio from 2012.

Baptistery, rear window (2014) by Thomas KuzioOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Immediately after passing through the main portal, the baptistery (also called St. Stephen's Chapel) opens on the side with a Romanesque baptismal font. The candlestick was created by the Magdeburg artist Heinrich Apel in 2003. It bears Apel's motto "Lux vita est" - "Light is life". Those who wish can light a light there for their personal wishes.

Baptistery, Apel candlestick (1970s) by Heinrich ApelOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Exhibition “Path and Works of the Naumburg Master”, Bamberg rider (2000s) by Casting by Michael ImhoffOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Exhibition: "Way and works of the Naumburg Master".

An exhibition on the upper floor of the Westklausur - located directly in the cathedral grounds - makes it possible to follow the creative path of the Naumburg master from France to Germany. It provides astonishing insights into the work and career of one of the most extraordinary artists of the 13th century. Artfully crafted duplicates of the Bamberg Rider or the Mainz West Luter, church models, capitals and manuscripts as well as 3D animations of the color reconstructions vividly demonstrate the special features of the Naumburg Master as well as his rootedness in French cathedral art.

Exhibition „Weg und Werke des Naumburger Meisters“ (“Path and Works of the Naumburg Master”) (1249) by Naumburg MasterOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Gargoyle from the Naumburg west choir - with approx. 210 kg the heaviest exhibit of the exhibition.

Exhibition „Weg und Werke des Naumburger Meisters“ (“Path and Works of the Naumburg Master”) (2015) by conceptualisation by Holger KundeOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Cathedral treasure vault (13th century) by unknownOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Cathedral Treasure Vault

In the cathedral treasure vault, the sacred treasures of the cathedral are duly staged. Even entering the room is an experience, as it impresses with an area of about 285 m² and is one of the largest Romanesque vaults in central Germany.

Cathedral treasure vault, Cranach altar detail Mary Magdalene (15th century) by Lucas Cranach the Elder and his WorkshopOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

The inner wings of the Cranach altar show on the right the saints Jacobus the Elder and Mary Magdalene as well as the Naumburg bishop John III of Schönberg as donor and on the left the saints Philip and Jacobus the Younger as well as the Naumburg bishop Philip of Wittelsbach as donor. The depiction of Saint Mary Magdalene on the Naumburg altarpiece is considered one of the most beautiful representations of women in the work of Lucas Cranach.

Cathedral treasure vault, Apel door (1970s) by Heinrich ApelOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Door designed by Heinrich Apel

Cathedral treasure vault, Johannesschüssel head (13th century) by unknownOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

The head of the Naumburg St. John's Bowl is one of the oldest surviving Western European works of this type of image. The St. John's bowl, used as a reliquary, hung above the altar of St. John the Baptist in the north transept of Naumburg Cathedral until the 18th century.

Cathedral treasure vault, altarpiece of the Three Kings (1415/1420) by Franco-Flemish influenced painterOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

The precious retable comes from the Epiphany Chapel, which was founded in 1416 by the Naumburg Bishop Gerhard II von Goch as a family foundation. It is the oldest preserved wooden retable in Naumburg and at the same time one of the most important. In the center of the magnificently designed triptych is the manger scene with the holy three kings in Bethlehem.

The individual scenes in the background of the picture with landscapes, a castle, a mill and a town as well as the repeatedly appearing cortege of the kings convey the impression of a long journey through different countries. In the foreground, the richly dressed saints have already reached Bethlehem and are offering their gifts. In the stable sits Mary, also in a costly robe as queen (of heaven), with the Christ child in her arms. Further off to the side, Joseph sits at a table.

Marienkirche (11th century, renewals 19th century) by unknownOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

St. Mary's Church

From the eastern cathedral square, the picture of an ecclesiastical triad of the cathedral church, Epiphany Chapel and St. Mary's Church presents itself. All three churches can be traced back to older predecessors and were only formed into an apparently harmonious complex of Gothic sacral architecture through alterations or extensions in the course of the 14th and 15th centuries. On the left southern side of the cathedral square stands the Gothic choir of St. Mary's Church. The oldest parish church in Naumburg probably stood here in the 11th century even before the first cathedral was built. It was elevated to a collegiate church in 1343 and generously renovated in the Gothic style. In the fire of 1532 the church burned down completely except for the choir. Today's building is mainly the result of renovations in the late 19th century and serves as a heated winter church and function room. The most important piece of equipment is an organ from the Eule company in Bautzen, which is based on the Italian Renaissance.

Dreikönigskapelle, inside (1416) by unknownOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Inside it impresses with a rare spring vault and a stained glass window with the scene of the holy three kings from the 19th century. Also from the 19th century is the collection of the so-called Nazarene pictures from the donation of a Naumburg canon.

Dreikönigskapelle, Three Kings (1416) by unknownOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Between St. Mary's Church and the cathedral's east choir rises the steep roof of the Epiphany Chapel, which dates back to a donation made by Naumburg Bishop Gerhard II of Goch in 1416. However, the chapel occupies only the upper floor of the building and was built on top of the St. Nicholas Chapel on the first floor, which probably already existed in the 11th century and today houses the cathedral store. The Epiphany Chapel can be reached via an external staircase from the Cathedral Square and serves as a room of silence.

Marienkirche, organ (19th century) by organ building company Eule from BautzenOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Today's building essentially dates back to renovations in the late 19th century and serves as a heated winter church and event space.
The most important piece of equipment is an organ from the Bautzen company Eule, modeled on the Italian Renaissance.

Marienkirche, gargoyle (11th century) by unknownOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

On the left southern side of the cathedral square stands the Gothic choir of St. Mary's Church. This was probably the site of Naumburg's oldest parish church as early as the 11th century, even before the first cathedral was built. It was elevated to a collegiate church in 1343 and generously renovated in the Gothic style. In the fire of 1532 the church burned down completely except for the choir.

Cloister (13th-14th century) by unknownOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Cloister

The cathedral cloister consists of two wings (south and west) and three and a half cloister wings (east wing only in part) - is from the time of the new construction of the cathedral (about 1220 to 1250). The vaults have different ages. In the 14th (perhaps already in the 13th) century, St. Mary's Church was incorporated into the cloister. The south wing consisted of the kitchen and refectory (ground floor) and the cathedral school (upper floor), the west wing of the service cellar, chapter house (ground floor) and dormitory (upper floor); in the east wing there was originally a syndicate or court house. In 1940 the gatehouse was rebuilt. Remarkable is the special case of a second enclosure on the north side of the cathedral church, of which remains are still recognizable.

Cloister (13th-14th century) by unknownOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Cloister, monkey Simius (13th-14th century) by unknownOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Cathedral Garden, comprehensive view from the south (2010) by Birgit PätzigOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Cathedral Garden

The Naumburg Cathedral Garden adjoins the cathedral in the southwest - an area of almost one hectare with many trees, paths and water invites visitors to stroll and linger. The cathedral garden, which was not open to the public until June 2011, combines old ponds, the bastions of the medieval immunity wall and gardens of the former canons' houses.

Cathedral Garden, pond (2010) by Birgit PätzigOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Thus, in harmony with the complete redesign of the cathedral garden, a restful and harmonious ambience was created that embeds the cathedral harmoniously in its surroundings.

Cathedral Garden, wine (2010) by Birgit PätzigOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Cathedral Garden, garden of the Naumburg Master from above (2010) by Birgit PätzigOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Within the park, adjacent to the west choir, the "Garden of the Naumburg Master" brings the native flora closer to the visitor in natura.

Cathedral Garden, garden of the Naumburg Master (2010) by Birgit PätzigOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

It served the sculptor-architect of the west choir, donor figures and west rood screen in the 13th century as a model for the capitals, friezes and keystones of the west rood screen and the west choir.
More than 150 original capitals, which are decorated with botanically precisely determinable filigree foliage, can be found at the rood screen and in the west choir of the cathedral.

Cathedral Garden, school garden bed (2010) by Birgit PätzigOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Flowerbed maintained by classes of the Cathedral High School.

Naumburg Cathedral, towers east (13th-16th century) by unknownOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

The small cathedral church from the time of the relocation of the bishop's seat soon no longer met the requirements of an important cathedral and trading city like Naumburg, which is why plans for major structural changes matured in the second half of the 12th century. The starting point was most likely the installation of the crypt under the east choir of the church. At first, the new construction of the eastern parts of the cathedral still seemed to be based on the dimensions of its predecessor.

Cathedral Garden, comprehensive view from the south (2010) by Birgit PätzigOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

But only a few years later, at the turn of the 12th and 13th centuries, the decision must have been made in favor of a ground plan that was significantly enlarged in the longitudinal axis. An attempt was made to integrate the components that had already been built by then into the new concept in as pleasing a manner as possible. Nevertheless, the change of plan can still be seen today in the conspicuous expansion of the crypt and in the system of the eastern nave piers.

Naumburg Cathedral, towers west (13th-16th century) by unknownOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

The climb continues to the viewing platform of the top floor of the northwest tower, which is located at a lofty height of 52 meters. Here you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the panorama of the city of Naumburg and its charming surroundings during a romantic sunset. Public tours of the tower are offered from March to October from Friday to Sunday and on holidays from 3 pm.

Gargoyle (13th-16th century) by unknownOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Gargoyle of an apostle at the east choir

Roof truss (13th-16th century) by unknownOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

The roof truss of the Naumburg Cathedral fascinates with its historical roof and vault construction up to the well preserved bell ringing.

Evangelist chapel, Erfurt altar from the Erfurt Angermuseum (13th century) by unknownOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

The Evangelist Chapel is the chapel room under the southwest tower of the cathedral church (ca. 1220s). The current name comes from wall paintings, the remains of which were still visible in the 19th century. Three windows in the chapel are by the artist Jochem Poensgen from 2013. The altarpiece is from the 16th century, originally from Naumburg and sold by the Othmar parish to the Angermuseum in Erfurt in 1915 (currently on loan from the Angermuseum).

Abbey Archive (13th-16th century) by late Romanesque workshopOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

The holdings of the Naumburg Cathedral Archives and the Naumburg Cathedral Library are among the most important in Saxony-Anhalt in terms of cultural history and are of international standing.

Abbey Library (13th-16th century) by late Romanesque workshopOriginal Source: Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

The written testimonies gathered here (charters, copial books, files, inscription plates, incunabula, etc.) represent a centerpiece of the historical tradition of Saxony-Anhalt.

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