When Queen Mathilde established a women's convent here in 961, she also inspired the development of the town. Nordhausen, which is almost 1,100 years old, boasts the only other cathedral in Thuringia besides Erfurt. Around the year 1000, the cathedral foundation received an important donation, making Nordhausen a place of pilgrimage. We believe that Mathilde's great-grandson, Emperor Otto III, gave a rare relic of the cross: a splinter from the cross of Jesus. The title "Kirche zum Heiligen Kreuz" was first recorded in 1267. During the Thirty Years' War the cathedral was so badly looted and damaged that the canons had to sell the precious relic of the Cross.
It was not until 1927, on the occasion of the 1,000th anniversary of the city, that the cathedral parish obtained another valuable cross reliquary from the later Pope Pius XII. This is displayed in the cathedral in a richly decorated golden cross reliquary, which is a replica of the original. Thanks to extensive renovations, the cathedral, with its extremely interesting architectural history, now shines in renewed splendour. The crypt, which was built around 1130, is the only still complete ensemble from Romanesque times in Nordhausen. Elements from several eras can be seen in the cathedral: the early Gothic choir area with its filigree carved choir stalls, the high Gothic nave with its impressive height of 18 metres, the Baroque high altar from 1726 or the panel painting "Madonna mit der Akelei" (Madonna with the Aqueligia), which was painted around 1420, the most valuable painting in the cathedral. The Dom zum Heiligen Kreuz in the old town of Nordhausen is open daily and offers regular guided tours.