The Torgau Castle
This photo was taken from the seats that the Elector and his family occupied during the daily church services at the Torgau Castle. Elector John Frederick the Magnanimous, one of the great heroes of the Reformation era, had the chapel constructed. He was a lifelong student of Luther, regarding Luther as his spiritual father. When he was taken into captivity in 1547 and imprisoned he was offered the return of properties like his Torgau Castle complex in exchange for renouncing his Lutheran faith and confession. He steadfastly refused. When you visit the Torgau Castle and read about its history and consider the enormous wealth it represented, and then realize that this was but one of many castles and properties John Frederick owned, all which he lost, you begin to appreciate more fully just how courageous he was and how costly his confession was.
When the Elector was in residence there were daily services, attended in the morning by all the persons in the castle compound who could attend, followed by the main meal of the day, served to all the Castle residents and staff: over 400 people when the Elector was in residence. The electoral family seats in the chapel were accessible by a private entrance into the chapel from the Elector’s living quarters in the castle. The pulpit you see, on the right, would have put the preacher at eye level with the Elector. This church was one of the first designed by Lutherans for the Lutheran Divine Service. Martin Luther preached the dedicatory sermon, in the pulpit you see. The next photo is of the Elector’s seating area. You can see the doorway they used behind the seats. The photo of the church interior was taken, standing, in the middle of the seating area for the Elector.
Here are photos of the carvings on the Castle Church pulpit. They depict: Christ cleansing the temple, Christ in the temple as a child, and Christ washing his disciples feet. All vivid reminders of the duties and obligations of the Elector as a pious Christian ruler.
Here is a shot of the pulpit, looking toward the elector’s seating area.
Here is a photo of the Torgau Castle complex from the exterior, followed by one taken from a window in the Castle Church, of the interior of the castle.
Here is a closer view of the unique spiral staircase, said to be the most magnificent achievement of Northern German Renaissance architecture. It is built without any supporting structures.
A final view of the Torgau Castle Church, ground floor, looking toward the “altar” which is in fact a free standing table, as Luther had indicated should be used in Christian services of the Lord’s Supper.