The Jewish-Medieval Heritage of Erfurt

  • Showcase at Google Arts & Culture

    Google now lists the Jewish-Medieval Heritage of Erfurt on their "Arts & Culture" gallery, showcasing the current UNESCO world heritages

    Image: © Screenshot Google Arts & Culture
  • 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.

    Picture: © Papenfuss, Atelier für Gestaltung
  • 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.

    Picture: © Peter Seidel
  • 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.

    Picture: © TLDA, W. Streitberger
  • 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.

    Picture: © Papenfuss
  • 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.

    Picture: © TLDA
  • The Manuscripts

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

    Picture: © Papenfuss, Atelier für Gestaltung
  • 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.

    Picture: © Papenfuss, Atelier für Gestaltung
  • 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.

    Picture: © Papenfuss, Atelier für Gestaltung

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" was added to the German Tentative List for future World Heritage Sites. At the beginning of 2021, the World Heritage application "Jewish Medieval Heritage of Erfurt" including the management plan was submitted to Unesco via the Thuringian State Chancellery, the Conference of Ministers of Culture and the Federal Foreign Office. Now the review will be carried out by ICOMOS, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, which will examine the written application, but also evaluate the situation on site and then give its expert vote - which in turn will be the basis for the Unesco Commission's decision in summer 2022. The decision to include Erfurt's application on the World Heritage List was made by the World Heritage Committee in September 2023 at its 45th meeting in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh. The “Jewish-Medieval Heritage in Erfurt” has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since September 17, 2023.


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.