Luther’s refusal to recant at the Diet of Worms in 1521 has left clear traces worldwide, both in history and in the present. Emperor Charles V had Luther summoned to appear at the Diet in Worms in 1521 and wanted him to recant his writings.
In 1517, the Augustan monk Dr. Martin Luther (1483 - 1545) wanted a discussion on 95 theses that named malpractices of the church. In the following years, he published a number of documents that were felt to be heretical. In these writings, he rejected the teachings and practices of the church that diverged from the Gospel, and he demanded reform. The Pope had him declared an outlaw.
Emperor Charles V had Luther summoned to appear before the Imperial Diet. He wanted Luther to recant his writings. Luther rejected this demand because they could not be refuted on the basis of the Bible. The Emperor imposed an imperial ban on Luther, but this proved ineffective. Elector Frederick of Saxony, Luther’s local secular ruler, gave him protection.
Since none of the buildings where Luther stayed or appeared have survived, there are monuments and commemorative sites in the city as reminders of Luther’s appearance at the Diet.
The city library has a Luther Library with more than 650 documents from the time of the Reformation, including some by Luther and by Melanchthon. The most valuable of these is a parchment Bible from the year 1541 with a handwritten entry by the reformer himself.
Take a look
Luther liked to drink wine and had a special weakness for wine made from Malvasia grapes. Wine from this very old grape variety can be tasted at a winery very near Worms :
The Luther tour in Worms takes you to five places in the city centre that have a connection with the Imperial Diet of 1521 and the early years of the Reformation in Worms: the Seminary of St. John, the Luther Monument, the Bishop’s Palace (Schlossplatz and Heylshof Gardens), the Holy Trinity Church and St. Magnus’ Church.
The most important commemorative reminder of Luther and the Imperial Diet of 1521 is the Luther Monument (Lutherdenkmal) on Lutherplatz. Unveiled in 1868, it is a representation in stone of Luther’s hymn “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” (one of the many English translations is “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”), framed by bronze figures. Together with the International Reformation Monument in Geneva (the Reformation Wall), it is considered to be the largest reformation monument worldwide.
Between the months of May and October, you can follow the Educational and Interactive Walkway from the Heylshof Gardens to the city library, which takes you past a number of artistic representations connected with Martin Luther’s stay in Worms.
The place where Martin Luther was interrogated by the emperor and the empire is today in the attractive landscaped parkland of the Heylshof Gardens.
1521 - Luther in Worms
Martin Luther stayed in Worms for only 10 days during the Imperial Diet, but his interrogation before Charles V changed the world as it was then. The themed tour gives information about this event and about the atmosphere in the city.
You will visit the following sights:
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