Anhalt in Germany is something like the heartland of the current German state of Saxony-Anhalt. Because even though Saxony-Anhalt is an artificially created federal state in Germany, parts of the state like Anhalt have a long history of their own. Anhalt was a duchy in Germany for several hundred years. Accordingly, there are also many historical places to discover here.
Places to see in Dessau
Before the Second World War, Dessau was considered one of the most progressive cities in Germany. Thus, not only were many industrial plants located here, but also the climate was progressive. This gave rise to some interesting Anhalt sights.
The Bauhaus is the master school par excellence for all design disciplines. Some of the best artists of their genres learned their trade here together with others. To this day, you can admire the impressive buildings of the Bauhaus in Dessau. UNESCO has not for nothing included the Bauhaus in the World Heritage Site. In our article about the Bauhaus Dessau we give an overview of the most important sights.
Hugo Junkers Technology Museum in Dessau
Hugo Junkers worked closely with the Bauhaus. The ingenious entrepreneur built up his company empire in Dessau. Because he was against the Nazis, they removed him from the company. Today, however, Dessau fondly remembers the mastermind who not only revolutionized aircraft construction. In the museum, of course, there is also a Ju88 on display, how could it be otherwise? This aircraft was one of the most important developments at Junkers-Werke, but by no means the only one.
Dessau city center with Market Square
Dessau, of course, also has a city center. During the war, the city was heavily destroyed. Therefore, the GDR government put many prefabricated buildings in the historic city center. Nevertheless, there are still some old buildings to see here. Besides the town hall, which was rebuilt true to the original, there is also the Marienkirche to visit. The late Gothic hall building dominates the center. From the tower you have a fantastic view, also on the nearby Elbe.
Castles in Dessau
In view of the Wörlitz Park (see below) and the Bauhaus, many visitors forget that in addition to the parks and palaces in Wörlitz, there are also palaces and gardens in Dessau, which are also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz.
Once laid out by Prince Johann-Georg von Anhalt starting in 1780, the Georgium Dessau is a true gem right in the center of the city. The English landscape garden is one of the most beautiful in the Garden Kingdom and the former palace now houses the Anhalt Picture Gallery.
The Luisium is the perfect alternative to Wörlitz Park. It is much less crowded here, especially on weekends. Nevertheless, there are also artificial ruins, bridges and some classicist buildings to see here, which remind of the splendor of the Princes of Anhalt.
Mosigkau Castle and Park
Mosigkau Castle dates back to Princess Anna Wilhelmine. She never married, but inherited quite richly and could therefore afford to have this magnificent ensemble built. The palace is also called the “little Sanssouci” because it was built in the finest rococo style. The palace park is also in no way inferior to the other gardens.
Hunter’s Bridge Dessau
Dessau is also a great place for a walk. A special destination is the hunting bridge. This covered wooden bridge leads over the Mulde and makes a very nice photo motif. Once the Mulde was one of the dirtiest rivers in Germany. But since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the water has been recovering and now has a healthy fish population again.
Dessau secret: Smokehouse Tower
Especially during the Corona pandemic, the tower of St. Mary’s Church was often inaccessible. Therefore, the free ascent on the Smoking Tower is a good alternative. From the 26 meter high tower you can see quite far, even if it is not directly in the center. By the way, it is called the Smoking Tower because sausages were smoked here in GDR times. For vegetarians and vegans reassuringly, the area was converted. The outdoor area even serves as a biotope, which was created by the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences in Dessau for rare plants.
Wörlitz Park is one of the most beautiful attractions in the East of Germany. The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park offers a real oasis of peace with artificial lakes, many different types of plants and beautiful buildings from the time of the Anhalter principality. Here you can easily imagine how the Anhalter princes once walked through the park and talked animatedly. The Wörlitz Palace or the Gothic House will definitely make beautiful backdrops for your photos.
Vockerode Power Plant
The first part of the Vockerode power plant was built as early as 1937. It survived the war unscathed, but the equipment went to the Soviet Union as reparations. In the 1950s, the power plant was rebuilt and supplied the region with electricity in the years to come until shortly after reunification. Here, lignite from the nearby opencast mines was used to generate electricity. Unfortunately, the power plant is currently not accessible. Nevertheless, it is possible to take a look around the area. It should also soon be possible to visit the Vockerode power plant again. I was there before the turn of the millennium and was very impressed by this unique industrial monument.
The Golpa-Nord open pit mine was once one of the most important lignite mines in the region. Several power plants were supplied with coal from here. The open pit mine was shut down in 1991. Then, in 2000, the remains of the site became a project for the EXPO in Hanover. Ferropolis – the city of iron – was created. In addition to the museum, half a dozen of the huge pieces of equipment from the open pit mine can be found here, one of which is completely walkable. There are also some works of art to see here. Campers can spend the night at the campground when a festival like Melt is not taking place here.
Places to see in Bitterfeld-Wolfen
Bitterfeld was once the dirtiest town in the GDR. Residents of that time reported that laundry hung out to dry got black spots. Shortly before reunification, the film “Bitteres aus Bitterfeld” showed how polluted the area was and how dangerous it was to live here. After reunification, the worst of the dirt was closed or remediated, and large parts of the surrounding area were cleaned up and renaturalized. Some of the most beautiful Anhalt sights bear witness to this.
The Goitzsche is one of the flooded open-cast mines in the region and has become a real attraction. Thousands of people flock to the lake with its distinctive landmark, the water level tower, in summer. There are beach bars, restaurants and a harbor for sailboats. Who would have thought that in 1990?
Wolfen Film Museum
At the Wolfen Film Museum you can learn more about the history of the Wolfen film city. The film factory in Wolfen once produced film material for the entire GDR and for export. Agfa was already producing here before the Second World War. The exhibition is about the chemical processes and how photos and films were produced in analog.
Arch of Bitterfeld
On a hill near the Goitzsche you can find another important sight of Bitterfeld. The so-called Bitterfelder Bogen (Arch of Bitterfeld) is an observation tower that stands almost like a bridge on the hill. From here you have a fantastic view of the region. The way to the top is barrier-free, but cannot be shortened. But it is definitely worth it!
Building 041 – City Hall Bitterfeld-Wolfen
Both Agfa and ORWO are unfortunately now history as photo and film factories in Germany. However, some of the factory buildings have been preserved. The industrial monument of Building 041, formerly the factory’s central laboratory and later the administration, has been renovated and serves as the town hall of the twin town of Bitterfeld-Wolfen. It is considered an outstanding example of the German movement of Neues Bauen of the 1920s and 30s.
The Reformation began in Wittenberg. It is here that the reformer Martin Luther is said to have nailed the 95 theses to the door of the castle church in 1517. Whether this really happened is still not clear. But the city is undeniably beautiful. Not only the castle church, but also the castle, the Cranach House, the Luther House, the Melanchton House and the city church of St. Martin belong on the visit program for the best Anhalt sights. Wittenberg is also home to a building created by artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser: He transformed a typical GDR panel-building school into a real work of art. And the Piesteritz factory housing estate is a real masterpiece of post-World War I architecture.
Bernburg is one of the cities in Saxony-Anhalt and even in Eastern Germany, which should deserve much more attention. Because besides the impressive castle, there is a beautiful and cozy old town to see here. One of the highlights of the city is the Capitol cinema in Bernburg. It is one of the best preserved art deco cinemas in Germany and is run by a Dutch family on their own.
But Bernburg also has its dark sides. In GDR times it was considered the epitome of psychiatry because of the clinic there, but during the Nazi era it was home to a killing facility. Thousands of handicapped people were murdered here as part of Aktion T4, also known as the euthanasia program. Aktion T4 was the rehearsal for the Holocaust. At the Bernburg Memorial you can learn more about this sad chapter of German history.