European Culture Route Fortified Monuments - FORTE CULTURA®
Torgau and Castle Hartenfels
Experience living history in the Saxonian Elbe and land fortress!
The only partly preserved large fortification system in Saxony
The Renaissance city Torgau with castle Hartenfels was the political centre of the Reformation during the 16th century in Germany. Here the first political alliance of reformed electors between Hesse and Saxony was formed. Martin Luther travelled more than 60 times to Torgau and ordained the first Protestant castle church. The Torgau article, written in 1530 by Luther, Melanchthon, Jonas and Bugenhagen were the groundwork for the famous statement of faith “Confessio Augustana”.
Already fortified as Saxonian Elbe and land fortress in the 17th century, Torgau was, from 1810 on Napoleon’s order, further fortified to the large fortification system as a member or the Rhenish Confederation. After Napoleons’ catastrophic Russia military campaign in 1812 and his defeat in the Battle of Leipzig in 1813 Torgau was besieged and finally captured by Prussia. They rebuilt it to a Prussian river and border fortress the Prussian way against Saxony. But with the development of explosive tracers by the end of the 19th century, the fortifications became ineffective and the fortress status was given up in 1889.
As a result, parts of the Torgau fortress like Fort Zinna and the bridge head barracks became famous prison locations during the Nazi and post war times until 1950. Exhibitions and memorials inform in different places about this dark chapter of the city’s history. Fort Zinna has been a prison location until today.
But in the today again idyllic Torgau old city visitors can find more than 500 memorials of the late Gothic, the Renaissance and the Baroque. Together with the still preserved fortification and the fortified castle Hartenfels it forms a European-wide unique urban ensemble. The city Torgau is also a stop on the international Elbe bike path, at the Luther path in Saxony and the Fürstenstraße of Wettin.