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Merseburger Schloss
Merseburger Schloss
Coat of arms of Merseburg
Coat of arms
Merseburg   is located in Germany
Coordinates: 51°22′0″N 12°00′0″E / 51.36667°N 12.00000°E / 51.36667; 12.00000Coordinates: 51°22′0″N 12°00′0″E / 51.36667°N 12.00000°E / 51.36667; 12.00000
Country Germany
State Saxony-Anhalt
District Saalekreis
 • Lord Mayor Jens Bühlingen (CDU)
 • Total 54.73 km2 (21.13 sq mi)
Population (2013-12-31)[1]
 • Total 33,432
 • Density 610/km2 (1,600/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 06217
Dialling codes 03461
Vehicle registration SK, MER, MQ, QFT

Merseburg ([ˈmɛɐzəbʊrk]) is a town in the south of the German state of Saxony-Anhalt on the river Saale, approx. 14 km south of Halle (Saale). It is the capital of the Saalekreis district. It had a diocese founded by Archbishop Adalbert of Magdeburg. The University of Merseburg is located within the town.



Historical affiliations

Bishopric of Merseburg 1004-1565
 Electorate of Saxony 1565-1657
Duchy of Saxe-Merseburg 1657-1738
Poland-Saxony 1738-1763
 Electorate of Saxony 1763-1806
Kingdom of Saxony 1806-1815
 Kingdom of Prussia 1815-1871
 German Empire 1871-1918
 Weimar Republic 1918-1933
 Nazi Germany 1933-1945
 Allied-occupied Germany 1945-1949
 East Germany 1949-1990
 Germany 1990-present

Pre-history and Middle Ages[edit]

Merseburg was first mentioned in 850. King Henry the Fowler built a royal palace at Merseburg; in the 933 Battle of Riade, he gained his great victory over the Hungarians in the vicinity.

Thietmar of Merseburg, appointed in 973, became the first bishop of the newly created bishopric of Prague in Bohemia. Prague had been part of the archbishopric of Mainz for a hundred years before that. From 968 until the Protestant Reformation, Merseburg was the seat of the Bishop of Merseburg, and in addition to being for a time the residence of the margraves of Meissen, it was a favorite residence of the German kings during the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries. Fifteen diets were held here during the Middle Ages, during which time its fairs enjoyed the importance which was afterwards transferred to those of Leipzig. Merseburg was the site of a failed assassination attempt on Polish ruler Bolesław I Chrobry in 1002.[2] The town suffered severely during the German Peasants' War and also during the Thirty Years' War.

Merseburg in 1650

17th century to 20th century[edit]

From 1657 to 1738 Merseburg was the residence of the Dukes of Saxe-Merseburg, after which it fell to the Electorate of Saxony. In 1815 following the Napoleonic Wars, the town became part of the Prussian Province of Saxony.

Merseburg is where the Merseburg Incantations were rediscovered in 1841. Written down in Old High German, they are hitherto the only preserved German documents with a heathen theme. One of them is a charm to release warriors caught during battle, and the other is a charm to heal a horse's sprained foot.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Merseburg was transformed into an industrial town, largely due to the pioneering work done by Carl Bosch and Friedrich Bergius, who laid down the scientific fundamentals of the catalytic high-pressure ammonia synthesis from 1909 to 1913. Enterprises, too, blazed a trail in the course of the transformational process. Ultimately, a chemical park emerged at nearby Leuna which is one of the most modern sites of its kind in Europe with high ecological standards.[citation needed]

Merseburg was badly damaged in World War II. In 23 air raids 6,200 dwellings were completely or partly destroyed.[3] The historic town centre was almost completely destroyed.

Briefly part of Saxony-Anhalt after the war, it was then administered within the Bezirk Halle in East Germany. It became part of Saxony-Anhalt again after reunification of Germany.

Historical population[edit]

Like many towns in the former East Germany, Merseburg has had a general decline in population since German Reunification despite annexing and merging with a number of smaller nearby villages.

Population of Merseburg (from 1960, population on 31 December, unless otherwise indicated):

1834 to 1933

  • 1834: 08,830
  • 1875: 13,664
  • 1880: 15,205
  • 1890: 17,669
  • 1925: 25,630
  • 1933: 31,576

1939 to 1984

  • 1939: 38,058
  • 1946: 33,978 1
  • 1950: 38,441 2
  • 1960: 47,199
  • 1981: 50,932
  • 1984: 48,399

1990 to 2007

  • 1990: 43,815 3
  • 1995: 41,576
  • 2000: 37,127
  • 2005: 34,581
  • 2006: 34,411
  • 2007: 34,039 4

from 2008

  • 2008: 34,623
  • 2009: 34,313
  • 2010: 35,419

Data source from 1990: Statistical Office of Saxony Anhalt
1 29 October
2 31 August
3 3 October
4 14 July 2008


Venenien was annexed into Merseburg on 1 January 1949. The parish Kötzschen followed on 1 July 1950. Since 30 May 1994, Meuschau is part of Merseburg.[4] Trebnitz followed later. Beuna was annexed on 1 January 2009.[5] Geusa is a part of Merseburg since 1 January 2010.[6]

Main sights[edit]

Saale, Cathedral, and Palace

Among the notable buildings of Merseburg are the Merseburg Cathedral of St John the Baptist (founded 1015, rebuilt in the 13th and 16th centuries) and the episcopal palace (15th century).

The cathedral-and-palace ensemble with its palace garden (Schlossgarten), Merseburg House of Trades with a cultural stage and the German Museum of Chemistry, Merseburg, all bear witness to Merseburg’s history. The Merseburg Palace Festival with the Historical Pageant, the International Palace-Moat Concerts, Merseburg Organ Days and the Puppet Show Festival Week are events celebrated every year.

Notable residents[edit]

International relations[edit]

Merseburg is twinned with:


  1. ^ "Bevölkerung der Gemeinden – Stand: 31.12.2013" (PDF). Statistisches Landesamt Sachsen-Anhalt (in German). April 2014. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Eckardt Götz (1980) Schicksale deutscher Baudenkmale im zweiten Weltkrieg, Band 2, p. 332, Henschelverlag, Berlin
  4. ^ Gemeinden 1994 und ihre Veränderungen seit 01.01.1948 in den neuen Ländern, Verlag Metzler-Poeschel, Stuttgart, 1995, ISBN 3-8246-0321-7, Herausgeber: Statistisches Bundesamt
  5. ^ StBA: Änderungen bei den Gemeinden Deutschlands, siehe 2009, 1. Liste
  6. ^ StBA: Änderungen bei den Gemeinden Deutschlands, siehe 2010

External links[edit]