The narrow alley between the cathedral and the Kleine Kirche church was probably only given the name Hexengang, Witch Alley, in the 19th century. Between high stone walls, on a red brick floor and without much incidence of light, the gloomy-looking path leads from the Große Domsfreiheit, the square north of the cathedral, to the river Hase. There, in the 16th and 17th centuries, accused witches were subjected to the water test: If the bound women sank, they were innocent; if they floated on the surface, the stake awaited them. The executioner controlled the fate by using the end of the rope to check how deep the women sank into the water. This story later gave rise to the tale that the women were led from their prison in Bucksturm Tower via the Hexengang Alley to the water test. However, this assumption is considered to be disproved, as the Hexengang Alley belongs to the area of the Catholic cathedral. However, the witch hunts were carried out by the Protestant magistrate of the city. In fact, the women were led past the cathedral on the right.
The original name of the alley Klapperhagen was based on the prohibition that people suffering from leprosy or the plague were not allowed to enter the cathedral. The sick were allowed to stay at the outer cathedral wall to listen to mass and thus pray for their salvation after death. According to the ideas of the Middle Ages, people felt closest to God the closer they were to the high altar. However, they had to draw attention to themselves and warn of their presence so as not to infect healthy people. The sick rattled their wooden musical instruments called ratchets, while they were in the alley, which thus received the name Klapperhagen, as klappern means to rattle.
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