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Saxony-Anhalt Travel Guide

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Schloss Wernigerode (© Frank -
Wernigerode Castle in the Harz mountains.


Saxony-Anhalt was the most industrialised region of the German Democratic Republic. The reunification of Germany caused the closing of many factories, which reduced pollution, but swelled the unemployment figures dramatically. Economic plight has prompted half a million people to leave the state since 1990.

Nevertheless, Saxony-Anhalt is full of good surprises for visitors. The beautiful Harz mountains, with its half-timbered towns and its majestic castles, is one of Germany's most touristic region. The numerous palaces and English styles parks and gardens around Dessau are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as are Dessau's Bauhaus buildings. The Saale-Unstrut valley, in the southeast part of the state, produces most of Germany's sparkling wine.

Saxony-Anhalt covers an area of 20,447 km² (7,895 sq mi), approximately the same size as Slovenia or Israel, and has a population of 2.34 million (a bit more than Slovenia).

Famous people from Saxony-Anhalt include (chronologically): Holy Roman Emperor Otto I, the religious reformer Martin Luther, the composer Georg Friedrich Händel, the philosopher Novalis, the founder of modern geography Carl Ritter, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, the Nobel Prize physicist Polykarp Kusch, and the Nobel Prize biologist Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard.

The present British and Belgian royal families descend in patrilineal line from the House of Wettin, which originated in the village of the same name along the Saale River.


Attractions are listed geographically, from west to east (left to right) and north to south (top to bottom).

North & Centre

Stendal (photo by Nutzer-Nephantz! - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)
outstanding Lined with half-timbered houses, Stendal is a pleasant historic town and the unofficial capital of the rural Altmark region. Once a prominent member of the Hanseatic League, until the plague and the Thirty Years' War put and...Read more
Tangermünde (© Uwe Graf -
very good Tangermünde is a walled medieval town at the confluence of the Elbe and the Tanger Rivers. Preferred residence of Emperor Charles IV (1316-1378), then of the Hohenzollern electors of Brandenburg, Tangermünde combines Romanesque...Read more

Magdeburg (© Uwe Graf -
good Magdeburg is the capital of Saxony-Anhalt and its largest city. Founded by Charlemagne, and favoured residence of Emperor Otto I, Magdeburg was one of Germany's most important medieval cities. Its medieval town laws, known as the...Read more

West (Harz)

Quedlinburg (© Klaus Rose -
must-see Quedlinburg is an exquisite half-timbered town that grew around a 10th-century imperial abbey for women. A real time capsule, this medieval jewel was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1994...Read more
Wernigerode (© Dirk Schönau -
must-see The touristic half-timbered town of Wernigerode is situated at the northeastern edge of the Harz Mountains, at the foot of the Brocken (1141 m), the highest peak in Central Germany. Seat of the Principality of ...Read more
Stolberg (© Erik Schumann -
outstanding Founded in the year 1000 as mining settlement deep in the Harz mountains, Stolberg became the seat of a county in 1210, then of the Principality of Stolberg-Wernigerode. The pocket-sized town is dominated by the grand...Read more
Town hall, Schierke (photo by Alma - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)
very good Schierke is a pretty mountain village and an access point to the Harz National Park. In 1914 and 1934 it was the site of the German Skeleton Championships...Read more

Other attractions

very good Gernrode
very good Thale


Bauhaus in Dessau
outstanding Between 1925 and 1933 Dessau was the focal point of the modernist Bauhaus school of architecture and art. Many fine examples of Walter Gropius' buildings can be visisted, some decorated by Kandisky, Klee, and other masters...Read more
Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm
Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm (© LianeM -
must-see Created in the 18th century by Duke Leopold III of Anhalt-Dessau, the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz is one of the first and largest English parks in continental Europe. Spreading on 142 km² within the Middle Elbe Biosphere...Read more
Wittenberg (© spuno -
outstanding Wittenberg is famous for being the birthplace of Martin Luther and of the Protestant Reformation. It is here that, in 1517, Luther wrote and nailed his 95 theses denouncing the abuses and corruption of the Roman...Read more

Southeast (Saale)

Wettin Castle
Wettin Castle (photo by David Meisel [Parexus at de.wikipedia] - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Germany license)
very good Burg Wettin is is the ancestral home of the House of Wettin, a powerful a dynasty of counts, dukes, prince-electors and kings, who have ascended the thrones of Saxony, Great Britain, Belgium, Poland, Portugal, and Bulgaria...Read more
Halle an der Saale
Market square, Halle (photo by White shark - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)
very good State capital and chemical powerhouse under the GDR, Halle is a clashing mix of graceful historical buildings and modern eyesores. The city's name derives from the Celtic word for salt, and Halle's saltworks operated for over...Read more
Schloss Neuenburg, Freyburg
very good Freyburg lies at the centre of the Saale-Unstrut, the northernmost wine growing region in Europe. Overlooked by Neuenburg Castle and slopes of vineyards, Freyburg is home to one of the world's largest wine companies...Read more
Naumburg (© anyaivanova -
very good A pretty town in the wine country, Naumburg is known mostly for its enormous Gothic cathedral, unique for having two choirs, and housing some of Germany's oldest stained-glass windows. Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche...Read more

Other attractions

good Rudelsburg Castle

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