Luther often visited Altenburg to visit Georg Spalatin or passed through on his journeys to Leipzig, Zeitz or Coburg.
In 1522, the citizens of Altenburg asked Prince Elector Frederick III of Saxony to appoint a Protestant priest. In 1525, Georg Spalatin became the priest at the parish church of St Bartholomew; today it is the oldest church in Altenburg and a solid reminder of the Reformation period. Georg Burkhardt, who later changed his name to Spalatin to reflect the place of his birth in Spalt, Franconia, was Luther’s right-hand man. While Luther preached Reformatory ideas, Spalatin implemented them into everyday life. Spalatin acted as an intermediary between the Prince Elector and Luther and used his skilful diplomacy to ensure that his friend Luther was not handed over to the Pope and the Emperor.
Luther’s great-great-grandson died in Altenburg in 1677 and is buried at the Church of the Brethren.
Gnandstein Castle was owned by the von Einsiedel family until 1945. The von Einsiedels were one of the oldest Saxon noble families who were open to Reformatory, Lutheran ideas. There is proof of intensive correspondence between Martin Luther, Georg Spalatin and other supporters.
Martin Luther referred to the von Einsiedels as ‘… a rare and unique light in the darkness of the confused nobility of this century’. In the castle’s late gothic chapel, images of Luther preaching testify of these events.