The Jewish-Medieval Heritage in Erfurt

  • The western facade of the Old Synagogue. On the left side, parts of the northern facade are to be seen.

    The Old Synagogue

    With a start of construction around 1094, the Old Synagogue is one of the oldest, largest and best preserved medieval synagogues in Europe. With its construction history it mirrors the history of the Jewish community of Erfurt until the year 1349.

  • Parts of the walls of the medieval mikveh. Remains of a small vaulted cellar room, surrounded by its bronze-coloured protective building.

    The Mikveh

    In Europe, only few Jewish ritual baths have been preserved. Among the monumental mikvaot of its era, the Erfurt Mikveh represents a so far singular type.

  • House with a stone facade, roughly plastered, with several windows in different sizes.n Fenstern in diversen Größen

    The Stone House

    Erected in the mid-13th century, this secular building can be related to Jewish owners and is one of the few buildings of its time Europe-wide with an originally preserved painted room ceiling.

  • Tombstone with Hebrew inscription

    The Tombstones

    To date, approximately 100 tombstones from the former Jewish cemetery have been rediscovered. They originate from the 13th to 15th century and thus from a period from which Jewish tombstones have very rarely endured.

  • A view of the entire Erfurt Treasure trove: coins, silver ingots, beakers and a ewer as well as jewellery: rings, brooches, dress ornaments etc.

    The Erfurt Treasure

    With a total weight of nearly 30 kg, the treasure from Michaelisstraße is globally unique in size and composition. Its most outstanding object is a Jewish wedding ring from the second quarter of the 14th century.

  • Double page of a medieval hebrew manuscript. Several columns of text and a large ornamented initial on the top of the left page.

    The Manuscripts

    The 15 Hebrew manuscripts were written between the 11th and 14th century and used to belong to the medieval Erfurt community.

  • Nearly square-shaped document with large seal tied to it with a cord at the bottom.

    The Erfurt Jewish Oath

    The oldest surviving written form of an oath for Jews in German is, simultaneously, the earliest written testimony of the Erfurt community.

  • Bronze lamp with a slim, tall shaft decorated with motives from the Old Testament..

    The Bronze Lamp

    Since the Middle Ages, bronze hanging lamps are known from Jewish contexts. Yet very rarely have such lamps been preserved. Having been made around the year 1160, the Erfurt Bronze Lamp so far is the oldest known example of this type.

In the largely intact medieval Old Town of Erfurt, one-of-a-kind constructional testimonies to the important Jewish community from the late 11th to the mid-14th century have been preserved. This edificial evidence is complemented and further upgraded by a globally unique abundance of original objects. Together, they offer valuable clues to Jewish community and everyday life as well as to the coexistence of Jews and Christians in medieval cities – as profoundly and documented by such a large number of authentic evidence as at no other known site.

For this reason, the Thuringian State Capital of Erfurt has decided to seek inclusion on the list of Unesco World Heritage for its medieval Jewish Heritage.
In 2014, the site "Old Synagogue and Mikveh in Erfurt - Testimonies of Everyday Life, Religion and Town History between Change and Continuity" was added to the German Tentative List for future World Heritage Sites. This means that the application for inclusion in the World Heritage List may be officially submitted to Unesco in a few years.

Sponsors

Sparkassen S und Schriftzug Sparkassen-Kulturstiftung Hessen-Thüringen

The realisation of this website has been kindly funded by the Cultural Foundation of Sparkasse Hessen-Thuringia.