A Town On The Ohre

A Town On The Ohre

I am part of the region Sachsen-Anhalt. I am only 15 km from the capital city, Magdeburg. Within my city walls are about 10.500 inhabitants over an area of 3.220 hectars. You can reach me through interstate B189 from Magdeburg, highway A2 from Berlin to Hannover, or through public transportation with the tram.

View about the house of masters My history began with documentation by Thietmar, the Bishop of Merseburg, the Count of Walbeck, and joint-owner of the Wolmirstedter Palace in 1009. Extensive archaeological findings and written records confirms that early Stone Age people lived in the area of the Elbe and Ohre. Chronicler Einhardt (under Karl the Great) reported in the Franconian Annals, that the soldiers of the Franconian kings were quartered three times in this area between the Elbe and the Ohre.

The River Elbe acted as the border for many centuries and characterized the hard life of inhabitants. That changed in 1300 when the Elbe dug itself a new riverbed. The palace was built into a castle, and so, it became the summer residence of many Magdeburger bishops. Among those, two Archbishops, Otto and Dietrich, who gave the most for my development, resulted in the modest affluence of my citizens.

During their reign and residence at the castle, I earned the priviledge to Stadtrecht, the right to be a city. Unfortunately, documentation about this historical and meaningful event was lost or destroyed by many people of this century.

My city flag carries the picture of the holy Katherina. She, and the holy Pankratius, were patron saints of the St. Katherina cloister, which was first mentioned in writing in 1228. There are numerous ornamental stories about Katherina von Alexandrien, who is the patron saint in many religious buildings. Historically documented is this:

In the fourth century, our time, in Alexandrien lived a very pretty and intellectually advanced princess. On the occasion of a visit from the Roman Emporer Maxentius, she lead him in heated debates over philosophy and religion. Maxentius was less interested in the discussions than he was in Katherina herself. It was difficult for him to accept her rejection so he had her arrested. When she refused to denounce her Christian beliefs, and also when she converted the soldiers of the Kaiser to Christianity, the torture chamber was deployed. As a result of Katherina von Alexandrien’s resistance was the wheel of the device broke, and Maxentius had her beheaded. As a martyr of the Catholic Church, she was later pronounced holy.

The best time, in the 16th century, began when the Administrator Joachim Friedrich extended the caste so people can take up residence there. For a few decades, he took care of the archbishopric Magdeburg, which had been converted to Protestantism, until he overtook the royal family of Brandenburg.

In 1564, 100 families lived within my city walls. The 30 Years War mercilessly destroyed 4/5 of all houses. In 1646, I counted only 24 houses and 12 inhabitants in my territory. When I now think back on the dark time of the Middle Ages-war and disease ruled my streets. And that was not enough! I was forced to survive torture practices and witch burnings. The last act of witchcraft was on May 6, 1667-the burning of the pyre.

Her name was Maragete Bilz. She was from the neighboring town of Barleben and accused of witchcraft. The execution sites were the gallows, the “mesh” and the castle domain. Law is still practiced today at the castle. Instead of people saying “We’re going to court” they say, “We’re going up the mountain.”

The great structual ensamble on the castle mountain competes with the courthouse, with its impressive edifice erected high above the surrounding roofs. A thin tower of St. Katherine’s Church towers over the scene. The chapel, as well, is a marvelous example of architecture in brick gothic which Ernst von Magdeburg had built in 1480. Today it is used as a concert hall. Let’s not forget the manor house, built in 1770 once the home of the area landlord, is now the city hall, restored in its old style. Here my cultural foundation was found. The last building on the mountain was a barn was built in 1846, which functions as a museum along with city hall to house exhibitions.

What other sights can I recommend to you? I’ll show you on a small tour. Won’t you please join me?

We begin on the eastern border, in the direction of Samswegen. There we will find the “Auerbachs Mühle” Hotel, complete with a 140 year-old windmill. From here, you have the perfect view of the low lying area of the Ohre. When you arrive by train, just outside the train station is a map. It will show the way to my city center. You will like the stores along the pedestrian alley. That is certainly different from the old ways of trading under the sky in 1590.

church Also worth seeing is St. Katherine’s Church, built in 1876. She is a work of beauty on the outside in 19th century new gothic brick style. It is now a cloister, which officially opened on Novemeber 29, 1987. The cemetery slabs of the old church are still seen today next to the front steps of the cloister. The church organ was opened on December 17, 1989. It has two sets of keys, 21 registers and 1,558 pipes. The organ is used in religious services at the cloister and offers organ concerts as well.
With a little luck, you can hear the excellent acoustics of the church hall. The passion music of the brass choir of Barleben, the organ concert of Bendrich Janecek of Sweden, the Black Sea Cossack Choir, or the concerts of the Kreis music school always offer musical enjoyment of different styles. On church property we are reminded of the old cemetery by the numerous gravestones. The new cemetery, located between August Bebel Street and Farleber Street, displays several historical sarcophag covers, headstones and plots.

As I said, I am not young anymore, as you can tell from the fisherman’s wharf. This alley is the oldest and narrowest of all my streets. It reminds me of the past. 300 years ago there was a water pump here, also know as “the Great Water Art.” At the time, the pump supplied most of my 173 inhabitants, their animals, the brewery, the city offices, and the pastures with fresh water. When you look down this little alley you get the impression that the houses on each side are so close that they support each other.

On my southern periphery, right on highway B189, is my Elbeu region. Coming from Barleben on the right side, you have a view of an old, but well-maintained building. It is my former customs office, which stood near the Elbe for about 700 years. Not far from there you will find an old church, designed in romanesque style. By the way, no less a person than Friedrich the Great gave financial support in 1758 to restore the church towers destroyed in the 30 Years War. Today a small inscription above the front door reminds us of this gift

Bogs or Heaths?

I have both to offer. Whoever wants to go roaming through the heaths, I can recommend a path from my city region Mose, on the way to Colbitz through Lindhorst. Before you begin your hike, you can get suitable refreshments at the restaurant Landgasthof Mose. And then off through the forest and meadows of the pine forest.

Not far from me is the Colbitz-Letzlinger heaths.
From this region, covering an area of 35,000 hectars, I obtain my healthy and tasty drinking water. Here we have the largest lime tree forest in Europe, with an expansion of 185 hectars. The end of June and the beginning of July is a paradise here for nature lovers, since all the late lime trees are in bloom at this time.

garden Take a nice long walk and stop at the restaurant Waldgasthof Rabensol. If you go a little further northeast, you’ll come to Zielitz. Here there is a part of the “Kali und Salz GmbH Salzgitter”, a chemical plant that worked at the time with potassium and its salts. It is towered over by the “Kalimanscharo”, a hill made from the excess stones of the potassium plant, which you can tour. 1964 began the building of the potash work and 1973 was the beginning of the promotion of white gold. At this time the construction of new buildings took place, and so, over the years, I became the living center for the mountain workers.

Naturally, I can recommend a visit to the capital city of the region. On your way, you should stop at the Rothensee Canal. It is 5km from my eastern border, was built in 1938, and joins the Elbe with the Mittelland Canal. From the Elbe, the ships enter a trough and are there raised to the level of the canal. Depending on the level of the water of the Elbe, the difference in height is usually 6-11 meters. This show is always a great experience for children. The Rothensee locks perform an important function within the water traffic from the Mittelland Canal and the Elbe and the Elbe-Havel Canal. The heart of water traffic will be a new canal bridge. Measuring 918 meters, it will be the longest in Europe. A guided tour through the Rothensee canals is offered.

I encourage you to take a trip down the Elbe and through the canals to Wolfsburg. A good place to start would be Petriförder in Magdeburg, the docks of the “Weißen Flotte.” Or a tour through the locks of the canal, or a cruise for tax free shopping, or a moonlight tour, or whatever you choose.

And that concludes our tour through my walls and my surroundings. So, please visit me sometime.


Wolmirstedt on the Ohre


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