St. John's Church is Magdeburg's oldest parish church. Official documents give testimony to the fact that a church stood there in 941.
In 1131, a three-nave and cross-shaped basilica was erected in Romanesque style on the church site and in the course of the 13th century two Romanesque towers were added to the building. The late Gothic annex dates back to 1453. Custom had it that famous patricians of the city were buried in St. John's Church. Even a member of the French Revolution, General Lazare Carnot, was buried here for a while.
The famous scientist and Lord Mayor of Magdeburg Otto von Guericke is supposedly buried in the family crypt under the church, however the exact location of his tomb cannot be verified.
The history of the church was marked by many changes. St. John's fell victim to many city fires and was destroyed when General Tilly's army invaded Magdeburg in 1631. However the citizen never tired of rebuilding the church. The church left a special mark on the city's history during the Reformation period when Martin Luther held a sermon in the overcrowded church. In the wake of his flaming speech most of the parishes of the city converted to Protestantism and in the following years Magdeburg assumed a decisive role as one of the most important protestant strongholds in Germany. A Luther memorial in front of the building commemorates this historical event.
St. John's Church also fell victim to the disastrous air raid of January 16, 1945. The ruin was left as it was to recall the terror of the war. However, 46 years later, on January 16, 1991 a committee was created to promote the restoration of the church. In 1999 the building was roofed again. Today St. John's Church is open to the public and has become a popular venue for a wide variety of unusual events.