The Idea

Shortly after the start of the new millennium, the Lutheran World Federation already began to consider what their contribution to the 500-year Reformation Jubilee in 2017 might be. It quickly became clear that instead of the division between churches, their “unity in reconciled diversity” would stand as the thematic center. The quote attributed to Martin Luther, “if the world collapsed tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree today” led to the idea of planting trees: 500 trees for 500 years of the Reformation.

And so the idea of a “Luthergarten” in Wittenberg came about. Different tree species symbolize the diversity of Christian churches. The one garden in which the trees grow stands for their common bond. As the trees grow, the garden continually changes shape. Likewise, the inspiration of the Reformation should keep going all around the world. The Luthergarten as an international, ecumenical, and living monument points to the jubilee year of 2017 and beyond.

The Council of the City of Wittenberg made public land available for the tree plantings at the Andreasbreite (1st location), at the New Town Hall (2nd location), and at the Luther House (3rd location). The city additionally is responsible for the long-term maintenance and care of the Luthergarten.

The Architectural and Horticultural Concept

Renowned landscape architect Dr. Andreas Kipar designed the basic concept of the one garden in three locations in Wittenberg. The Luther Rose emblem set into the ground at the first location (“Andreasbreite”) forms the center of the garden. There the first five trees were planted, which stand for five Christian World Communions (Anglicans, Reformed, Methodists, Catholics, and Orthodox). The tree for the Lutheran World Federation stands at the entrance to the Luther Rose.

Altogether, 35 different species of trees from various continents around the world were planted in the Luthergarten. Of note is the decision to use the linden tree, a species with great symbolism. Traditionally, linden trees were planted in the village square in many villages throughout Germany and Europe. The village community gathered in the shade of the linden tree.

Visitors to the Luthergarten may also experience a sense of belonging to a global village community when they are surrounded by the linden trees of the five large church communions. In addition, linden trees line paths in all three locations of the Luthergarten.

2008

The cornerstone of the Luthergarten is laid in a ceremony on September 20th, 2008.

2009

The central Luther Rose is completed. The trees for five Christian World Communions (Anglicans, Reformed, Methodists, Catholics, and Orthodox) are planted.

2009

The first 25 tree plantings in the Luthergarten are celebrated on November 1st, 2009, including the tree for the Roman Catholic Church (Cardinal Walter Kasper, 2nd from right).

2010

The paths are laid.

2012

The garden is being developed by the dedication of specialists as well as volunteers like this group during “spring cleaning” in the Luthergarten.

2013

The Luthergarten is introduced at the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in South Korea.

2014

The Lutheran World Federation participates in redesigning the playground at the Luthergarten.

2015

The Luthergarten is growing – the second location of the Luthergarten at the New Town Hall ("Neues Rathaus") is inaugurated.

2015

The Lutheran World Federation signs an agreement with the Philipp Melanchthon Protestant Secondary School to harvest the fruit in the Luthergarten.

2016

Over 300 trees are already planted. People from diverse cultures and continents participate with a tree in the Luthergarten.

2016

The Heaven’s Cross is inaugurated on June 15th, 2016. From left: Joachim Gauck, Federal President of Germany; Bishop Munib Younan, President of the Lutheran World Federation; and Dr. Reiner Haseloff, Ministerpräsident of Saxony-Anhalt.

2017

500 Years of the Reformation: The Lutheran World Federation takes part in the “World Reformation Exhibition” in the Luthergarten.

2017

The third location is inaugurated: the Luthergarten at the Luther House.

2018

On Reformation Day (October 31st), the last tree plantings in the Luthergarten are celebrated.

2019

The Lutheran World Federation celebrates September as “Season of Creation” – this year a Creation Festival in the Luthergarten is celebrated with the Protestant Secondary School for the first time.

2020

With the project “Luthergarten 500+,” people from around the world are invited to plant trees and be part of the growing international network of the Luthergarten.

2021

Tours in the Luthergarten on “Day of the Open Monuments”

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