Coordinates: 51°21′16″N 11°59′34″E / 51.35444°N 11.99278°E / 51.35444; 11.99278
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Merseburg Castle
Merseburg Castle
Coat of arms of Merseburg
Location of Merseburg within Saalekreis district
SaxonyThuringiaBurgenlandkreisHalle (Saale)Anhalt-BitterfeldMansfeld-SüdharzSalzlandkreisBad DürrenbergBad LauchstädtBarnstädtBraunsbedraFarnstädtKabelsketalLandsbergLeunaWettin-LöbejünMerseburgMüchelnNemsdorf-GöhrendorfObhausenPetersbergQuerfurtSalzatalSchkopauSchraplauSteigraTeutschenthal
Merseburg is located in Germany
Merseburg is located in Saxony-Anhalt
Coordinates: 51°21′16″N 11°59′34″E / 51.35444°N 11.99278°E / 51.35444; 11.99278
 • Lord mayor (2022–29) Sebastian Müller-Bahr[1]
 • Total54.73 km2 (21.13 sq mi)
88 m (289 ft)
 • Total34,335
 • Density630/km2 (1,600/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
Postal codes
Dialling codes03461
Vehicle registrationSK, MER, MQ

Merseburg (German: [ˈmɛʁzəbʊʁk] ) is a town in central Germany in southern Saxony-Anhalt, situated on the river Saale, and approximately 14 km south of Halle (Saale) and 30 km west of Leipzig. 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. Merseburg has around 35,000 inhabitants.



The town Merseburg consists of Merseburg proper and the following four Ortschaften or municipal divisions:[3]

Administrative reforms[edit]

Venenien was incorporated into Merseburg on 1 January 1949. The parish Kötzschen followed on 1 July 1950.[4] Since 30 May 1994, Meuschau is part of Merseburg.[5] Trebnitz, previously part of Kreypau, followed in 2003.[6] Beuna was annexed on 1 January 2009.[7] Geusa is a part of Merseburg since 1 January 2010.[8]


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, 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. After Ekkehard's treacherous death on April 3, 1002, Bolesław I Chrobry took Merseburg and Meissen, and then Milsko with Bautzen and Strehla, with the help of the local Slavic population. The German princes accepted the sovereignty of the Polish prince in these areas. Some historians believe that since the convention in Gniezno, the Brave might have had certain rights to the German throne after Otto III, guaranteed by some succession document. Merseburg was later the site of a failed assassination attempt on Polish ruler Bolesław I Chrobry in 1002.[9] 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. The nearby Leuna works continue this tradition of chemical industry.[10] The Merseburger Tageblatt was published as a local newspaper in Merseburg.

Merseburg was badly damaged in World War II. In 23 air raids, 6,200 dwellings were completely or partly destroyed.[11] 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 the reunification of Germany.


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
  • 2012 33,520
  • 2015 34,052

from 2016

  • 2016 33,931
  • 2017 34,197
  • 2021: 34,785
  • 2022: 35,815

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


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 also features a palace garden.

Other sights include the Merseburg House of Trades with a cultural stage and the German Museum of Chemistry, Merseburg.

Arts and culture[edit]

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.


Merseburg station is located on the Halle–Bebra railway. Leipzig/Halle Airport is 25 kilometers away. Merseburg is connected with the Halle (Saale) tramway network. A tram ride from Halle's city centre to Merseburg takes about 50 minutes.

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Merseburg is twinned with:[12]

Notable people[edit]

Ernst Haeckel in 1906


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Merseburg". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 18 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 173–174.
  1. ^ Bürgermeisterwahlen in den Gemeinden, Endgültige Ergebnisse, Statistisches Landesamt Sachsen-Anhalt, accessed 10 November 2022.
  2. ^ "Bevölkerung der Gemeinden – Stand: 31. Dezember 2022" (PDF) (in German). Statistisches Landesamt Sachsen-Anhalt. June 2023.
  3. ^ Hauptsatzung der Stadt Merseburg, § 15, April 2019.
  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. ^ Gebietsänderungen vom 01.01. bis 31.12.1994, Statistisches Bundesamt
  6. ^ Gebietsänderungen vom 01.01. bis 31.12.2003, Statistisches Bundesamt
  7. ^ Gebietsänderungen am 01.01.2009, Statistisches Bundesamt
  8. ^ Gebietsänderungen vom 01. Januar bis 31. Dezember 2010, Statistisches Bundesamt
  9. ^ UAM, O. autorze Paweł Kubiak Rekonstruktor X. w Hevding drużyny słowian i wikingów Vergild Student (20 May 2013). "Konflikty Bolesława Chrobrego z Henrykiem II od roku 1002 do pokoju poznańskiego". Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  10. ^ "InfraLeuna Producers". InfraLeuna GmbH. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  11. ^ Eckardt Götz (1980) Schicksale deutscher Baudenkmale im zweiten Weltkrieg, Band 2, p. 332, Henschelverlag, Berlin
  12. ^ "Partnerstädte". (in German). Merseburg. Retrieved 25 February 2021.

External links[edit]