Station: [25] Conduit Water

The water feature here in the courtyard...

... harks back to Elector Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous and one of the ideas he came up with. In the 16th century, Wittenberg's supply of fresh water wasn’t wholly reliable. So the elector developed some headwaters north of the town in 1542 and ‘43 and had a master conduit-maker lay a simple water pipe to his castle. In those days, conduits were made of tree-trunks that had been hollowed out.

Impressed by this innovative idea, seven wealthy Wittenberg residents, including Lucas Cranach the Younger, founded a conduit water company to scout for more springs. They tapped a spring in the Fläming region and had wooden pipes laid to channel the water to Wittenberg, making use of the natural gradient. Here in town, they initially built fountains on seven sites where local residents could fetch fresh water. One of those fountains supplied by the conduit is here in this Cranach Court, while there’s another at the Cranach Court Markt number 4. However, please note that the water coming out of the pipe these days isn’t drinking water.

In the immediate vicinity of the Cranach Court Markt number 4, you can still see remnants of the old wooden conduit. Take a close look at the floor of the passageway associated with the brewery at Markt number 7.

As you leave the Court, take a look at the façade. The portal features the coats of arms of former owners on either side of the passageway. On the right is the Cranach coat of arms with the winged serpent, while the one the left belonged to one Polycarp Leyser. He was court preacher and a superintendent in the Lutheran church. As son-in-law to Lucas Cranach the Younger, he owned the Court after the artist’s death.  

The Cranach Court Markt number 4 is less than a minute’s walk from here. Simply turn right along Schloss-Strasse until you reach number 4!


All depictions: © Dagmar Trüpschuch und Cranach Stiftung