The old and venerable Cathedral is Magdeburg’s landmark.
Under the Ottonian dynasty, Magdeburg thrived and prospered and became the most important political and religious town of the German empire at the beginning of the 10th century. As early as 937, Otto the First founded a Benedictine Monastery in Magdeburg which was dedicated to St. Maurice. In 955, he then commissioned the erection of a monumental cathedral on the former site of the monastery church. and only a few years after Otto the First was crowned Holy Roman Emperor, Magdeburg became an Archbishopry.
In 1207, the Ottonian cathedral suffered extensive damage in a devastating town fire. Just two years later reconstruction work began on the site of the former building and is the first Gothic cathedral on German soil was erected as a three-aisle French style basilica with a chapel crown. Still today, Magdeburg Cathedral is considered one of the largest church buildings to be found in Germany. No other German Cathedral succeeds in enchanting its visitors with such magnificent widths and light-flooded naves.
Despite all the troubles time and history inflicted upon the cathedral, the remains of a crypt, the tomb of Otto the Great as well as various exhibits such as antique columns, the baptismal font and bronze grave markers dating back to the Romanesque predecessor can still be admired. As far as the building itself is concerned, only the well-preserved southern aisle of the cloister walk dates back to Romanesque times.
Further attractions are early Gothic sculptures dating back to the 13th century including the group ‘Clever and Stupid Virgins’ and a statue depicting St. Maurice. The statue is in fact considered to be the first realistic depiction of an African in Europe at that time – and like the other sculptures it has become an internationally renowned piece of art.