Brandenburg an der Havel is the third-largest town in the German state of Brandenburg. The town of some 72,000 inhabitants (2019) focuses on culture, gardens and tourism, having hosted the federal horticultural show in 2015.
Brandenburg an der Havel (sometimes called Brandenburg City to distinguish it from the eponymous state) is considered the nucleus or cradle of the historical Margraviate and today's State of Brandenburg. It was populated first by Slavs, then conquered by the troops of German King Henry I in 928 or 929. 20 years later, Otto I established the Bishopric of Brandenburg that held both religious and secular power in the region. During the 983 Great Slav Rising, it was reconquered by pagan Slavs, until Albert the Bear founded the Margraviate of Brandenburg in 1157, populating it with Christian, German-speaking settlers. The Brandenburg cathedral was started in 1165.
From the 12th to 18th century, Brandenburg actually consisted of two cities, separated by the River Havel and each protected by its own walls: one centred around the castle, serving as the capital of the secular Margraviate of Brandenburg; and one containing the cathedral, being the residence of the religious Prince-Bishopric of Brandenburg. After the Reformation, the Bishopric was annexed by the Margraviate. The Hohenzollern dynasty moved the capital of the Margraviate to Berlin after 1415, nevertheless Brandenburg an der Havel long claimed to be the higher-ranking city due to its old age. During the Thirty Years War, Brandenburg was severely damaged, lost most of its population and importance.
The town experienced a second boom during industrialisation. The Brennabor works were a famous producer of bicycles, prams, cars and motorcycles; and the town's population doubled within a few decades. Under East Germany's communist rule, Brandenburg again was a site of heavy industries, having major steelworks and mills. After reunification, it was deindustrialised, many people lost their jobs and moved away.
Berlin's most famous landmark, the Brandenburg Gate, is named after Brandenburg an der Havel.
Brandenburg is on the Berlin–Magdeburg railway route, but intercity trains rarely stop here. Instead it is served by half-hourly regional express trains from Potsdam (taking 20–25 minutes) and Berlin (45–55 minutes), hourly from Magdeburg (50 minutes) and Frankfurt (Oder) (two hours).
The closest airport is Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER IATA), 90 km east of Brandenburg. It takes about 1 hr 20 min to go from the airport to Brandenburg by train (via Potsdam Park Sanssouci).
Brandenburg is on the B 1 highway, 70 km from Berlin's Brandenburg Gate and 40 km west of Potsdam. From the Autobahn A 2 (Berlin–Hanover) you may take the exits Brandenburg or Wollin.
The Verkehrsbetriebe Brandenburg an der Havel (VBBr) operate three tramways, eight urban buses and five night bus lines. The price for a single ticket is €1.70; for a day ticket €3.60.
- 1 St Peter and Paul's Cathedral (Dom Sankt Peter und Paul zu Brandenburg). A first cathedral was erected in the mid-10th century, but it was lost during the Great Slav Rising. The present building was started in 1165, built from bricks and designed in a late-Romanesque to early-Gothic style. It is considered the "cradle" of Brandenburg and "mother" of all churches in the state. The cathedral is on an island (Dominsel) in the River Havel which also contains the cathedral's enclosure, the former knight academy, curiae, cathedral canon's houses and the Gothic St Peter's Chapel.
- 2 St Catherine's Church (Katharinenkirche). The city's biggest church (bigger than the cathedral), main parish church of the "New Town"; three-aisled, late-Gothic hall church with beautifully decorated ceiling. The organ has a lavishly decorated Baroque façade.
- 3 St Gotthard's Church (Gotthardkirche). Main church of the "Old Town"; served as the bishop's church before the completion of the cathedral. The westwork's base is Romanesque, while the church's main parts are Gothic.
- 4 St John's Church (Johanniskirche). Former Franciscan monastery; late-Gothic, two-aisled hall church built from bricks. It was severely damaged during the Second World War; the ruin was repaired after 2013, and is used partly as a church, partly as an event location.
- 5 Town hall of the Old Town (Altstädtisches Rathaus). Imposing brick Gothic town hall with ornated gates, Roland statue. On the Old Town's marketsquare is the Ordonnanzhaus (an early 14th-century brick building, one of the oldest secular buildings in Brandenburg), the Renaissance Sekretariats- und Syndikatshaus and the Baroque Inspektorhaus.
- Remains of the medieval city fortifications of the Old Town and New Town:
- 6 Steintorturm, Steinstraße (Tram 1 or 2 "Große Gartenstraße"), ☏ +49 3381 584501. Apr–Oct: Tu-Su 13:00-17:00. Mightiest of the New Town's gate towers; hosts a museum of local history. Admission €3 (children free).
- 7 Neustädtischer Mühlentorturm. Late-Gothic gate tower, built from bricks.
- 8 Rathenower Torturm. Oldest gate towers of the Old Town.
- 9 Plauer Torturm.
- 10 Millenial bridge (Jahrtausendbrücke). Bridge over the River Havel, connecting the Old with the New Town. It was completed in 1929, celebrating the millennial anniversary of the city.
- 11 Archeological Museum at St Paul's Monastery (Archäologisches Landesmuseum Brandenburg im Paulikloster), Neustädtische Heidestraße 28, ☏ +49 3381 4104112. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00, closed on Mondays, New Year, Good Friday, Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve. Presents 10,000 archeological findings from 50,000 years of history. It's in a 13th-century Gothic former Dominican monastery. Admission €5 (reduced €3.50).
- 12 [dead link] Industrial museum (Industriemuseum Brandenburg), August-Sonntag-Straße 5 (Tram 2 "Am Stadion / Industriemuseum"), ☏ +49 3381 304646. Tu-Su holidays 10:00-17:00 (March–October), 10:00-16:00 (November–February). Disused steelworks, containing the last open hearth furnace in Western Europe and an exposition about the former vehicle builder Brennabor. Part of the European Route of Industrial Heritage. Admission €5 (reduced €3).
- 13 Museum im Frey-Haus, Ritterstraße 96 (Tram 1 "Nicolaiplatz", Tram 2 or 6 "Ritterstraße/Museum"), ☏ +49 3381 584501. Tu-Su holidays 13:00-17:00. Branch of the museum of local history, displays historical images of Brandenburg and old toys. Admission €3 (children free).
- Brandenburger Theater, Cultur Congress Centrum, Grabenstr. 14, ☏ +49 3381 511-121. Drama, musical and dance theatre, youth and amateur theatre, concerts, readings, puppet theatre and cabaret.
- Brandenburger Symphoniker, Cultur Congress Centrum, Grabenstr. 14, ☏ +49 3381 511-131. Symphony orchestra, regularly performing at the Cultur Congress Centrum, but also visiting other places in and outside the state of Brandenburg
- City Hotel Pension Brandenburg, Große Gartenstraße 2, ☏ +1 3381 325652.