Destination Germany: Naumburg and its grand old cathedral

This week we are going to take a trip to my area of Germany, the state of Saxony Anhalt. If you go to the south you will find a town that is the center of the 'castle district' as well as the center of the northern wine growing area in the country. This is the town of Naumburg. And what we are going to focus on is one of its major attractions, the Naumburg Cathedral.

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The town dates back to around 1000 AD and was an important trade route crossing until the Leipzig Fair became popular and the traffic diverted away from the town. Now it is a medium to small city but has a powerful atmosphere. Much of the city has since become modern but there is still an medieval old town in the which is a big draw of visitors. And in the middle of this area is the Naumburger Dom which is a Protestant Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul.

Naumburg. Click to enlarge. Image: Muns / Wikimedia

While many cathedrals have a long history, Naumburg's is particularly old. It started as a castle, founded by Ekkehard I over 1000 years ago which made this entire city what it is today. At the time it was pretty small compared to the huge Gothic structure it has become today.

You may find old churches and even cathedrals in many large and small towns across Germany, but this one is massive. Not only is there a museum inside the church, it is big enough that there are guided tours daily. That with the surrounding gardens, Romanesque and early Gothic architecture, as well as the surrounding town makes the Naumburg Cathedral really stand out.

The permanent exhibition tells about the church and region throughout history. It also showcases the art, paintings and sculptures, that reside there. One of the most famous being the west choir statues titled “the most beautiful women of the middle ages”.

You know the story of Snow White and the seven dwarves right? Well, then you remember the evil queen who was the main antagonist who tried to kill Snow White because she was jealous of her beauty. Disney actually modeled their cartoon of the evil queen after one of the statues in this cathedral in Naumburg - the statue of Countess Uta von Naumburg.

Click to enlarge. Image: Torsten Maue / Flickr

Alongside the permanent display, there are almost always art and history exhibitions that are only there for a limited time. It is in an area of the cathedral called the treasure vault.

Right now there is a show that highlights masterpieces of contemporary stained glass. But if you want to catch this exhibit you have to act fast. It will only be up until the middle of March.

But, starting in May, a show entitled Lines between earth and sky will be starting. This is a show on burial culture which showcases grave plate engravings of the 13th to 17th centuries.

As for the gardens around the cathedral, they are quite remarkable and usually changing with the season. Visitors can walk around this outdoor area to view all sides of the building. There is also a nice outdoor cafe to stop have a coffee while you soak up the atmosphere!