Stendal is a town in the north of the German state of Saxony-Anhalt.
Stendal is the biggest town in the Altmark region. The town was founded in 1160. From its inception, it belonged to the Margraviate of Brandenburg that later developed into the Kingdom of Prussia. During the 14th to 16th century, Stendal was a member of the Hanseatic League and—despite being more than 150 km off the nearest seashore—had its own seafarer guild.
The 18th-century archeologist and art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1768) was born and went to school in Stendal. He significantly evoked a revival of classical antiquity and thereby paved the way for the Neoclassical movement in different arts. The Winckelmann Society that preserves his heritage has its seat in Stendal. The French writer Marie-Henri Beyle (1783–1842) was an admirer of Winckelmann and therefore chose the pseudonym "Stendhal" as a bow to his idol. Incidentally, Beyle/Stendhal lived in the region for a short time, serving in the administration of the French puppet state "Kingdom of Westphalia".
The population of Stendal grew rapidly during the 19th and early 20th century, quadrupling between 1830 and 1910. After the end of communist rule and the re-unification of Germany in 1989/90 however, the town lost 30 % of its population. The number of inhabitants could only be held relatively stable at 40,000 by incorporating several neighbouring municipalities.
Stendal is located approximately halfway between Berlin and Hanover, 65 km north of Magdeburg.
High-speed trains (ICE) frequently pass through Stendal on their way between Berlin and Hanover—but do not stop here. However, intercity trains between Berlin and Amsterdam (via Hanover) call every two hours. Moreover there are hourly local trains from Magdeburg and Wittenberge as well as two-hourly regional trains between Magdeburg and Uelzen.
Stendal has a well-preserved old town with a variety of historical, mostly medieval, buildings.
- Remains of the medieval town fortification, including two Gothic brick gates (Uenglinger Tor on the western and Tangermünder Tor on the southeastern end of the old town; especially the former is considered one of the most beautiful town gates in Northern Germany), magazine and walls
- 1 St. Nicholas' Cathedral (St.-Nikolaus-Dom). Late-Gothic brick church with remarkable late-medieval glass paintings.
- 2 St. Mary's Church (St. Marien). Gothic, double-towered brick church from the 15th century that replaced a Romanesque predecessor. Astronomical clock.
- 3 Town hall (Rathaus). Mainly dating from the 15th century, with Gothic and Renaissance-style elements. In the interior, there is a wall with 15th-century wood carvings, the oldest secular carved work north of the Alps. In front of it stands a 5.4 m high Roland statue dating from the 16th century and symbolising the town's privileges.
- 4 City library (Stadtbibliothek). Located in the former Franciscan monastery's refectory. A modern annex, built from bricks too, was added in 2012.
- 5 Winckelmann-Museum, Winckelmannstraße 36–38. April to September: Tue – Sun 10:00 – 18:00; October to March: Tue – Sun 10:00 – 17:00. Dedicated to the town's most famous son, the 18th-century archeologist and art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann. It is located in the place of Winckelmann's birth house. The permanent exhibition shows documents and items from Winckelmann's life. An "adventure museum" targets children, including an "archeologist's camp", "time travel" to the ancient Pompeii (dressing up as ancient Romans, discovering and reconstructing imitated found pieces), a 15.6 metre high, walkable Trojan horse, weighing 45 tons, a labyrinth garden and a playground with ancient Roman and Greek games. Admission to all parts of the museum 7 € (reduced 5 €); permanent collection only 4 € (3 €); temporary exhibitions or "adventure museum" and Trojan horse only 4.50 € (3.50 €).
- 6 Altmärkisches Museum, Schadewachten 48, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tue – Fri 10:00 – 12:00 and 13:00 – 16:00, Sun 13:00 – 18:00, closed on Mondays and Saturdays. Museum of regional history, including cloister garden. admission 2 € (reduced 1 €).
- 7 Fire fighter museum (Landesfeuerwehrmuseum Sachsen-Anhalt), Arneburger Straße 146a, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tue, Thu, Sat 09:00 – 16:00. Fire brigade equipment and paraphernalia from old leather buckets to modern fire engines; especially large collections of old East German fire engines. admission 3 € (children 2 €).
- Bismarck's manor in Döbbelin, Döbbeliner Dorfstraße 18 (7 km east of downtown Stendal, 250 m off the B 188 road to Gardelegen), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. daily 13:00 – 18:00. Pretty and well-tended Baroque estate house of the Bismarck family (that originated in the nearby village Bismark). The family's most famous son, Prussian-German statesman Otto von Bismarck, however, never lived here. The grounds are opened every day and for free. The interior can only be visited by groups and by prior appointment. There is a small cafe and an all-year Christmas market.
- Theater der Altmark (Landestheater Sachsen-Anhalt Nord). Regional theatre, presenting dramas, musical and dance theatre, children's and youth theatre productions.
- Roland festival, in June of each year
- Atrium, Breite Straße 17 (on the main shopping street, diagonally across St Mary's Church), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Mon – Sat 11:30 – 22:00, closed on Sundays. German and Mediterranean-style cuisine. Mentioned in the Gault Millau as one of the best restaurants in Saxony-Anhalt Mains 12.50 – 18.50 €.
- Hotel Schwarzer Adler, Kornmarkt 5 (right on the marketplace, diagonally across from the town hall), ☏ . double room 89 €.
- Tangermünde (11 km southeast of Stendal, 12 minutes by train). Small, but historically notable town with many historico-cultural sights, including a medieval castle, an almost complete town wall with several fortified towers, a historical Gothic town hall and churches.
- Jerichow monastery (Kloster Jerichow) (20 km southeast of Stendal). Well-preserved Romanesque brick church and collegiate chapter with beautiful cloister.
- Havelberg (35 km northeast of Stendal). Another small, but very remarkable town in terms of history and culture. It used to be a member of the Hanseatic League, too, and is mostly noted for its massive Romanesque cathedral.