HALBERSTADT, a town of Germany, in the Prussian province of Saxony, 56 m. by rail N.W. of Halle, and 29 S.W. of Magdeburg. It lies in a fertile country to the north of the Harz Mountains, on the Holzemme, at the junction of railways to Halle, Goslar and Thale. Pop. (1905) 45,534. The town has a medieval appearance, many old houses decorated with beautiful wood-carving still surviving. The Gothic cathedral (now Protestant), dating from the 13th and 14th centuries, is remarkable for the majestic impression made by the great height of the interior, with its slender columns and lofty, narrow aisles. The treasure, preserved in the former chapter-house, is rich in reliquaries, vestments and other objects of medieval church art. The beautiful spires, which had become unsafe, were rebuilt in 1890-1895. Among the other churches the only one of special interest is the Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady).
8 3 o a basilica, with four towers, in the later Romanesque style, dating from the izth and 13th centuries and restored in 1848, containing old mural frescoes and carved figures. Remarkable among the other old buildings are the town-hall, of the 14th century and restored in the i?th century, with a crypt, and the Petershof, formerly the episcopal palace, but now utilized as law courts and a prison. The principal educational establishment is the gymnasium, with a library of 40,000 volumes. Close to the cathedral lies the house of the poet Gleim (<?..), since 1899 the property of the municipality and converted into a museum. It contains a collection of the portraits of the friends of the poet-scholar and some valuable manuscripts. The principal manufactures of the town are sugar, cigars, paper, gloves, chemical products, beer and machinery. About a mile and a half distant are the Spiegelsberge, from which a fine view of the surrounding country is obtained, and the Klusberge, with prehistoric cave-dwellings cut out in the sandstone rocks.
The history of Halberstadt begins with the transfer to it, by Bishop Hildegrim I., in 820 of the see founded by Charlemagne at Seligenstadt. At the end of the 10th century the bishops were granted by the emperors the right to exercise temporal jurisdiction over their see, which became one of the most considerable of the ecclesiastical principalities of the Empire. As such it survived the introduction of the Reformation in 1542; but in 1566, on the death of Sigismund of Brandenburg (also archbishop of Madgeburg from 1552 to 1566), the last Catholic bishop, the chapter from motives of economy elected the infant Henry Julius of Brunswick-Luneburg. In 1589 he became duke of Brunswick, and two years later he abolished the Catholic rites in Halberstadt. The see was governed by lay bishops until 1648, when if was formally converted by the treaty of Westphalia into a secular principality for the elector of Brandenburg. By the treaty of Tilsit in 1807 it was annexed to the kingdom of Westphalia, but came again to Prussia on the downfall of Napoleon.
The town received a charter from Bishop Arnulf in 998. In 1113 it was burnt by the emperor Henry V., and in 1179 by Henry the Lion. During the Thirty Years' War it was occupied alternately by the Imperialists and the Swedes, the latter of whom handed it over to Brandenburg.
See Lucanus, Der Dom zu Halberstadt (1837), Wegweiser durck Halberstadt (2nd ed., 1866) and Die Liebfrauenkirche zu Halberstadt (1872); Scheffer, Inschriften und Legenden halberstddtischer Bauten (1864); Schmidt, Urkundenbuch der Stadt Halberstadt (Halle, 1878); and Zschieschc, Halberstadt, sonst undjetzi (1882).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)