Torgau and the Reformation

Torgau was the political centre of the Reformation, and many important decisions were made here in the former capital of the Electorate of Saxony. Martin Luther stayed sixty times in the city. His reformist ideas were supported by the Electors at Hartenfels Castle and the rich bourgeoisie of Torgau.

“Wittenberg is the mother and Torgau the nurse of the Reformation”


Martin Luther preached in Torgau for the first time in 1521. After his courageous appearance in Worms, he was celebrated by the citizens of Torgau and found great support from them throughout his life. His teaching falls on fertile ground here. Around 60 stays of Martin Luther in Torgau are documented.


With the help of Leonhard Koppe, a councilor and merchant from Torgau, Katharina von Bora and eleven other nuns fled the Nimbschen monastery on the Easter Vigil of 1523. After a short stay in Torgau, nine of them made it to Wittenberg. For Katharina, Torgau was not only the first station on her way into civil life, but also the last station of her life. Fleeing from the plague, she had an accident on December 20 on the way from Wittenberg to Torgau and Stern. She found her final resting place in the town church of St. Marien in Torgau. In the house where she died, today at 11 Katharinenstrasse, is the only memorial to the wife of the great reformer. The exhibition in the Renaissance house tells of her eventful life at Martin Luther’s side and commemorates this courageous, strong woman, whose biography also provided material for numerous novels.


The first evangelical hymn book was created by the Torgau cantor Johann Walter in close cooperation with Luther and published in 1524. The tradition of Protestant church music is still cultivated in Torgau today with demanding concerts.


In 1526, evangelical princes formed the Torgau League to defend religious freedom.


Under the leadership of Martin Luther, one of the evangelical visitation regulations was drawn up in Torgau in 1527. Martin Luther personally came to Torgau in 1529 for the first school and church visitation.


In 1530, Luther, Melanchthon, Jonas and Bugenhagen drew up the Torgau Articles as the basis of the Augsburg Confession in the Superintendency building.


From his residence in Torgau, Elector Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous issued the protective edict for the printing of the complete edition of the Bible in Wittenberg in 1534.

On October 5, 1544, Martin Luther consecrated the Torgau Castle Church as the first Protestant church building. Its architecture still reflects the new principles of evangelical church teaching.


Johannes Luther, the eldest son, was sent to the Torgau Latin school in 1542, which had a very good reputation. The youngest son Paul Luther married Anna von Warbeck from Torgau.

Churches and Reformation Sites in Torgau

The town church of St. Mary with the grave of Katharina von Bora and the altarpiece “The Fourteen Holy Helpers” Lucas Cranach d. Ä., the castle chapel inaugurated by Luther, the hidden Nikolaikirche in the inner courtyard of the town hall. Discover Torgau’s treasures!