Cottbus (Sorbian: Chóśebuz) is a city in the southeast of Brandenburg state, in Germany. It is the state's second-largest city and is considered one of the cultural centres of the Sorbs, a Slavic ethnic minority in eastern Germany. Cottbus sits on the southern edge of the famous Spreewald and north of the developing man-made Lusatian Lake District. After the flooding of the Cottbus-Nord surface mine, the city will lie on the shore of the one of the largest lakes in the district. Also to the north is the beautiful Schlaube Valley, which can easily be reached by day trip.
The name of the city comes from "Chotibuz" from the Sorbian (Wendish) language, which is itself a derivation of Choitische Budky, meaning approximately "pretty little houses".
Modern Cottbus is a small city, in what used to be East Germany, and due to high unemployment the city has suffered from the "brain drain" to more prosperous German cities. Its proximity to Berlin allows a lot of people to commute between the two cities. Today, it is most associated with coal mining, Communist-era prefabricated buildings, and the nearby Spreewald forest, but the city has much more to offer visitors than drab East German nostalgia. The city first reached a population of more than 100,000 (the lower limit for the German term "Großstadt") in the 1970s and while it seemed after reunification that it would lose the designation Großstadt once and for all, nowadays the population is slightly over 100,000 and rising again, fitting a Germany-wide trend of people moving into cities.
The city's history is inexorably linked to its expansion during the industrial revolution. Today, it offers a beautiful and well-preserved medieval core and its surrounding 19th century districts that arose during the city's textile boom. There are many parks in and around the old city center which give the city a "green" reputation. The Soviet-era suburbs do not have much to interest tourists, but significant efforts to refurbish these districts and make them more attractive are being undertaken.
Historically, Cottbus is renowned for three specialties: cloth, grain and beer, and "baumkuche" (lit. tree-cakes), a traditional circular layer cake that resembles tree rings.
Starting in around 1860, the arrival of the industrial revolution granted Cottbus huge economic benefits. The first clothmaking factory and the first military barracks were founded here during that time. Then, in 1865, the railroad connecting Berlin to Görlitz was built through Cottbus, which resulted in an industrial and economic boom. Other railway companies eventually connected their lines through the city as well, interconnecting the city with the nearby clothing mill towns of Guben and Forst, as well as Wroclaw.
Dr. Carl-Thiem, the father of trauma surgery in Germany, founded a private clinic in the city in 1885, where it still resides. In 1886, the first telephone system was installed, and after a merger of the three largest German carpet manufacturers, a public textile college was also founded.
- 1 [formerly dead link] Drewitz Airfield (a few miles north of the city). This airfield is available for charter flights and general aviation uses, but offers no regular commercial service.
The nearest airport with international service is Dresden, 100 km southwest. Berlin Tegel and Schönefeld airports are slightly further, but offer a larger choice of destinations.
2 Cottbus Station. Near Cottbus there is a railway station connected to the Intercity network (IC), with morning arrivals from Hamburg and Berlin, and evening arrivals from Norddeich via Berlin. Direct daily regional connections to Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, and Frankfurt (Oder) are also available. The train station is near a connection to the municipal streetcar network, and several bus lines stop at the station proper.
Cottbus can be reached on the regional bus network that serves Brandenburg and the surrounding areas, the Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg. The regional bus terminal is found in the city center, near connections to streetcar lines 1, 2 and 4.
Cottbus is on the federal Autobahn Route A15 (E36), which runs west to Lübbenau, where is connects with A13 (E55) running northbound to Berlin and southbound to Dresden with a and Spur towards Dresden. Eastbound, the route terminates at the border with Poland and connects on to the Polish highway network. This motorway has two exits to the city Cottbus-West (16), and Cottbus-South (17).
Secondary regional route connecting to Cottbus are B97 from Guben to Spremberg and Hoyerswerda, B115 from Bad Muskau and Görlitz to Lübbenau and Lübben, B122 from Forst, and B169 from Senftenberg
The Cottbusverkehr GmbH (Cottbus Transit Authority) operates a network of four streetcar lines and eight primary bus routes in the city, in addition to three nighttime bus lines. Late night service runs from 21:00 to 04:30 daily.
Due to the compact size of the city, most destinations are easily reachable by bicycle or on foot.
- 1 Fahrradservice Schenker, Beuchstraße 25 (Tram line 1 to the "Beuchstraße" stop), ☏ . M-F 09:00-18:00, Sa 09:00-16:00.
- 1 Cottbuser Postkutscher Tour (Cottbus Coachman), Berliner Platz (in front of City Hall). Tu Sa 10:00. Guided tours of the city by the Cottbus Coachman are available. Tours run about 2 hours. A climb up the Spremberger Tower is included. €6, €5 reduced.
- 2 Triebwagen 24 (Streetcar 24), Vetschauer Straße 70, ☏ . During daylight hours, reservation required. A traditional streetcar that began operation over 100 years ago. Visitors can take a tour of the city center. The tour is approximately 1½ hours. Group rate only. €114 for up to 20 persons, €149 for 20-40 persons).
- 3 Theater, Theater. A special travel offer for the culturally inclined couple, with the following services: Overnight stay in the Hotel am Theater with a romantic dinner and champagne breakfast. Attendance of a show at the State Theater, a guided tour of the old city or Branitzer Park. €99.
- 4 Cottbuser Tierpark (Cottbus Zoo), Kiekebuscher Straße 5 (Adjacent to Branitzer Park), ☏ . 09:00 to 18:00. The largest zoo in the state of Brandenburg featuring a large number of bird species, large predators and other animals. Adults €5.00, children €2.50.
- 5 Parkeisenbahn (Park Railroad). Apr 16-Jun 1, Sep 1-Oct 31: 10:00 to 17:40; July–August: 10:00-18:30; Christmas trips December 1–6. A light-gauge railway, built in the 1950s, that runs primarily in the summer months between the stations of Sandower Dreieck (with ample parking) and Friedenseiche. The nearly 4-km-long runs from the Sandow neighborhood, passing by the Football Stadium, stopping at the Cottbus Zoo, and then on into Branitzer Park to the "Peace Oak". From here, it is a short 15 minute walk to the Kiekebuscher Dam on the Spree river. €3, reduced fare €2, surcharge with steam locomotive €1.
- 6 Oberkirche St. Nikolai, Oberkircheplatz (Near the "Altmarkt" stop on Line 3). Daily 10:00-17:00. This Protestant church is still largely intact from the middle ages, except for a new spire which was repaired a few years ago. With the new spire, it now stands as the tallest church in the Lower Lusatia region. The church spire is open to the public. offering a scenic panorama of the whole city. Due to its excellent acoustics, this church is also a popular music venue. Spire access €1.
- 7 Schlosskirche (Castle Church), Spremberger Straße 5. This Protestant church was built in 1419 and is next to the pedestrian zone in the city centre.
- 8 Klosterkirche (Cloister Church), Klosterplatz 1, ☏ . M-F 09:00-11:00, Th 15:00-17:00. This Wendish church is attached to an old Franciscan monastery and is located along the north edge of the old city wall.
- 9 Kirche St. Maria Friedenskönigin (Church of St. Mary, Queen of Peace), Adolph Kolping Straße 17. Catholic church just south of the city centre.
- 10 Lutherkirche (Luther Church), Brauhausbergstraße 1. A Protestant church near the central train station.
Castles and palaces
- 11 Schloss Branitz (Branitz Castle), Robinienweg 5, ☏ . Tuesday-Sunday: Nov–Mar 11:00-17:00; Apr–Oct 10:00-18:00. The castle of Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau. It features two permanent exhibits and a regularly rotating theme exhibition of "... all that is different than elsewhere, fantastical, or fairytale" - Everything about the famous landscape artist, bookseller, and world-traveler, who lived from 1785 to 1871. The permanent exhibit featuring Carl Blechen (1789-1840), is also worth seeing. The castle is located in scenic Branitzer Park, which was created by the Prince in the English garden style. Castle: €5.50/€4.00 reduced. Estate: €4.50/€3.50 Stables: €3.50/€2.50. Comprehensive: €10.00/€7.00.
- 12 Schloss in Cottbus (Cottbus Castle), Magazinstraße 1. The former city castle (first mentioned in the 10th century!) is now the seat of the district courthouse, but is still beautiful in its own right, with its imposing 46-meter spire springing from the peak of the castle hill. The castle grounds feature a waterfall on the back side of the hill.
- 13 Gerber Cottages, Uferstraße 16 (Take Line 3 to Sandower Brücke station). The Gerber houses are the oldest private buildings in Cottbus. There were erected, respectively, in 1727, 1760, and 1860.
- 14 Konservatorium (Conservatory), Puschkinpromenade 14, ☏ .
- 15 Neue Rathaus (New City Hall), Puschkinpromenade 1. Built between 1934 and 1936.
- 16 Staatstheater Cottbus (State Theater), Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 23, ☏ . This theater was designed by the Berlin architect Bernhard Sehring and completed in 1908. It is the sole remaining art nouveau theater in Europe.
- 17 Spremberger Turm (Spremberg Tower), ☏ . W-M 11:30-18:00. A fortified tower preserved from the old city wall, overlooking the medieval city core. €1.
- 18 Elektrizitätswerk (Old powerhouse), am Spreeufer 1. The 19th-century power plant, near the old city castle, provided hydroelectric power for the city's many textile mills. It was later home to a discotheque, which has subsequently closed due to neighborhood complaints, but guided tours can still be made by special arrangement.
- 19 Weltspiegel Cottbus (World-Mirror Cinema Cottbus), Rudolf Breitscheid Straße 78, ☏ . Opened to the public in 1911. One of the few cinemas of this era still operating, featuring impressive art nouveau architecture.
- 20 Apothekenmuseum (Pharmacology Museum), Altmarkt 24 (Line 3 to "Altmarkt" station.), ☏ . Tours Tu-F 11:00 and 14:00, Sa Su 14:00 and 15:00. Unusual exhibit of pharmacy facilities and related historical objects from the 18th through the 20th century. Guided tour only. €4.00/€2.00 reduced.
- 21 Dieselkraftwerk Kunstmuseum (Diesel Power Plant Art Museum), Am Amtsteich 15, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. A technologically significant historic structure, which in was constructed in 1928 to satisfy the city's ever-increasing electrical demand, utilizing (then-unique) diesel power generation. The restored building now houses the Brandenburg state art collection, featuring exhibits of photography, painting, sculpture, and posters. €5.00/€2.50 reduced, free entry the first Monday each month.
- 22 Flugplatzmuseum (Airfield Museum), Dahlitzer Straße. Mar–Oct: Tu-F 10:00-16:00, Sa Su 10:00-17:00; Nov–Feb Tu-Sa 10:00-16:00. The Cottbus Airfield is over 90 years old, with more than 20 airplanes, helicopters, and service vehicles in its outdoor public viewing area.
- 23 Raumflugplanetarium Cottbus, Lindenplatz 21, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Projection planetarium, built in 1974 and named in honor of Yuri Gagarin, it has been modernized and now offers daily shows and educational content featuring 3,000 stars from the northern and southern hemisphere skies.
- 24 Museum der Natur und Umwelt (Natural History Museum), Bahnhofstraße 52, ☏ , fax: . Tu-Th 10:00-17:00, Sa Su 14:00-17:00.
- 25 Wendisches Museum (Wendish Museum), Mühlenstraße 12, ☏ , fax: . Tu-F 08:30-18:00, Sa Su 14:00-18:00. Exhibits on Wendish/Sorbian art, culture, music, and traditions. €2.50 adult, €1.50 reduced, €0.75 children.
Sports and fitness
- 1 FC Energie Cottbus, Ludwig Leichhardt Allee 1. Despite the city's moderate size, Cottbus' football (soccer) club has enjoyed some success in both the 1st and 2nd divisions of the Bundesliga (professional soccer association) and has a strong regional fan following.
- 2 Lagune, Sielower Straße 19, ☏ . This new sports and recreation complex features a 50m indoor pool, spa, sauna, and outdoor pool. €5.
There is a Saturday market in Oberkirchplatz from 07:00 until about midday. You can buy delicacies from the nearby Spreewald, sold in person by the producer. A slimmed-down version of the market takes place on Wednesdays in front of the city hall and on Thursdays in the Sprem (shopping area near the Old Market). Elsewhere, the Blechen-Carre is a large shopping centre containing the usual retail chains to be found across Germany.
Meanwhile, dedicated shopaholics should explore the old town, where there are many small shops and specialist boutiques.
- Gipfelstürmer, Karl-Liebknecht Straße 10, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The "Trailblazer" is a well-stocked outdoor shop. You can find everything here for outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain climbing, biking, as well as maps.
- In the hamlet of Hornow at Spremberg (about 20 km south-east of Cottbus) chocaholics are guaranteed to find something in the fine Felicitas confectionery store, which sells real homemade chocolates.
- Brau und Bistro, Altmarkt 18, ☏ .
- Die Suppenbar, Sandower Str. 3 (Altmarkt), ☏ , fax: . M-F 11:00-17:00.
- Coffeelatte, Altmarkt 13, ✉ email@example.com.
- Da Capo, Marktstraße 14. Eiscafé
- Deniro, Schillerstraße 65, ☏ . Italian
- Stadtwächter, Mauerstr. 1, ☏ .
- Da Nando, Deffkestraße.
- Roma, Marktstraße 7.
- Mythos, Sandower Str. 54, ☏ . M-Th 17:00-24:00; F Su 11:30-14:30, 17:00-24:00.
- Asado, Karl-Liebknecht Str. 25, ☏ . Tu-Su 17:30-23:30. Steakhouse & tapas.
- Restaurant Shiva, Oberkirchplatz 5, ☏ . 11:30-15:00, 17:00-23:00.
- Primo (Lindner Congress Hotel).
- Jugenherberge Cottbus, Klosterplatz 2-3, ☏ , fax: .
- Hotel Ostrow, Wasserstraße 4.
- AHORN - Hotel & Restaurant, Bautzener Straße 134/ 135}.
- Hotel Willmersdorfer Hof, Mauster Straße 11.
- SORAT Hotel Cottbus, Schlosskirchplatz 2, ☏ .
- Lindner Congress Hotel Cottbus, Berliner Platz (next Stadthalle).
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Vetschauer Straße 12 (opposite Hauptbahnhof).
The city of Cottbus is surrounded by a dense network of cycle paths that can quickly take you deep into attractive countryside. For the adventurous, a selection of bicycle tour routes of varying distances can be found in a dedicated German Wikivoyage article.
Only a few kilometers north of the city is the Spreeaue, a 400-acre area along the course of the Spree river has been reclaimed as a nature reserve. Meadows and traditional villages invite you to explore on foot or by bike.
Burg (Spreewald), the southern gateway to the Spreewald, lies about 15 km northwest of Cottbus. The route there runs through the low-lying, rural Spreewald foothills. The Spreewald is very well developed for tourism and offers an ideal starting point for boat, paddle and bike rides. Lübben and Lübbenau are two other major points of departure to visit the Spreewald area.
Klinger Lake lies about 15 km east of Cottbus, on the edge of a former open-cast lignite mine. The lake is still being filled and will be a major feature in the future Lower Lusatia Lake District. Many former lignite mines have fallen victim to changing economic circumstances, and are now gradually being repurposed. The lake's bizarre landscape is reminiscent of the lunar surface and has a certain gruff charm. Another minor attraction is the former Klinger Raubritter gate.
About 40 km north-eastern in the former hat-making town of Guben you can find the Plastinarium, the demonstration workshop of the internationally renowned/notorious "Body Worlds" exhibitor, Gunther von Hagen. Daily 10:00-18:00 (last entrance 16:00), admission starting from €12 per person, concessions €8. Uferstraße, 03172 Guben, ☏.
About 20 km west of Cottbus in Slawenburg Raddusch you can find a mock castle built as part of an international building exhibition. The model houses a museum and reflects castles of 1000 years ago built by the then Lusizi (ancestors of today's Sorbian/Wendish minority). Opening times from April to October 10:00 to 18:00, November to March 10:00 to 16:00. A15 exit Vetschau.