Nikolaus Cusanus

Valuable records of a great scholar


Some people are truly remarkable and ahead of their time. One of these was Nikolaus von Kues, the son of a rich merchant and Moselle skipper. He was born in Bernkastel-Kues in 1401 and studied mathematics, physics, astronomy, medicine, ancient philosophy, law and theology. As a priest and scientist, he rose to the highest ranks of public life in his day and was even considered a serious candidate for the election of the Pope, but he died in 1464. His grave can be found in the San Pietro in Vincoli church in Rome, but his heart rests in the Mosel.

The universally educated philosopher, theologian and mathematician was one of the first German humanists of his era. At his birthplace in Kues, he completed his main philosophical work “De docta ignorantia”, which stands like a boundary marker between the Middle Ages and the modern age. His work replaced medieval theology and its geocentric view of the world with a new interpretation of how the world works. This stretched further than Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler and has proven to be fundamentally true even in the light of the modern astrophysics of one Albert Einstein.

Today, the rooms of the house in which he was born house the permanent “Nikolaus von Kues (1401 - 1464) - Life and Work in Pictures” exhibition, and are used for art exhibitions, religious discussions, lectures, music and more.

A further testimony by the great scholar can be found in Bernkastel-Kues: A “Poorhouse Hospital for Old and Weary Men” of all social classes, designed according to the monastic model. The late Gothic monastery complex has never been destroyed and still functions as a home for the elderly (and is now open to women), Nikolaus von Kues having generously endowed it materially, and bestowing such wise statutes that it can still exist today.

It’s worth taking a look at the cloister, the Gothic chapel containing the cardinal's tomb slab and a winged altar from the Cologne school, the rococo convent hall and the library, which is considered one of the most valuable private libraries in the world.

Parts of the former farm buildings now house a viticultural centre.


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