The Federal State of Saxony-Anhalt with its state capital of Magdeburg once was the industrial centre of the communist eastern Germany but has undergone significant transformation since the German reunification. Saxony-Anhalt comes with a rich cultural heritage. The old town of Quedlinburg, the Bauhaus in Dessau, the Martin Luther sites in Wittenberg and Eisleben and the Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Kingdom have all been included on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites. Travelling the “Romanesque Route” you’ll discover the diversity of Romanesque monasteries, cathedrals, churches, houses and fortresses, arranged, with their sculptures and sacred ornaments, like a string of pearls.
Saxony-Anhalt provides nature-lovers with some attractive landscapes. The region near the rivers Elbe, Saale and Unstrut is blessed with heathland, forests, mountains and marshland. National parks, such as the Upper Harz National Park or the Elbe River Landscape Biosphere Reserves, have been set up to maintain the unique features of these areas and open them up for soft tourism. The natural surroundings can be experienced on the wide selection of well sign-posted hiking and cycle paths, or when travelling along the many rivers and canals in the state by boat, or when spending a holiday on a farm or at a wine-grower’s.
Magdeburg (population 230,000)
The capital city’s boulevards are still lined with concrete box apartment houses, called “Plattenbauten”, the typical, cheap style of the former German Democratic Republic of Germany. However, Magdeburg – founded by Charlemagne – can look back to 1200 years of history and there are many well preserved historic buildings from the Middle Ages such as the famous St. Mauritius Cathedral. A relatively new attraction is the “Jahrtausendturm”, a huge conical building in the Elbauenpark, where visitors can experience 6000 years of scientific inventions.
Wittenberg (population 55,000)
Saxony-Anhalt’s most visited medieval town is the crate of the Reformation and of Protestantism. Here, Martin Luther wrote his 95 revolutionary theses in 1517 and nailed them onto the door of Wittenberg’s Castle Church to challenge the corrupt Catholic Church. The Reformation separated Prostantants and Catholics thus causing plenty of wars and conflicts in Europe. Luther’s Wedding Festival is a picturesque re-anactment of the historical events. It takes place on the 31st of October every year.
Magnificent beechwood forests, steeply tumbling streams, widespread high moors, and pristine mountain fir forests make this lovely mountain range with its peak “Brocken” (1142 m) in the middle of Germany an ideal getaway offering many opportunities for hiking or mountainbiking in summer and skiing in winter. The Harz is one of the few areas in Central Europe where you can encounter the rare lynx in the wild. The main town in Saxony-Anhalt’s part of the Harz is the charming medieval town of Wernigerode (population 35,000) with its romantic castle rising above the old quarter. Equally attractive is Quedlinburg (population 24,000). With more than a thousand half-timbered houses dating back over six centuries, art nouveau buildings, the Romanesque collegiate church of St. Servatii and many cultural offerings medieval Quedlinburg was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.