Brandenburg an der Havel

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Brandenburg an der Havel
Brandenburg an der Havel in May 2015
Brandenburg an der Havel in May 2015
Coat of arms of Brandenburg an der Havel
Coat of arms
Brandenburg an der Havel   is located in Germany
Brandenburg an der Havel
Brandenburg an der Havel
Coordinates: 52°25′0″N 12°32′0″E / 52.41667°N 12.53333°E / 52.41667; 12.53333Coordinates: 52°25′0″N 12°32′0″E / 52.41667°N 12.53333°E / 52.41667; 12.53333
Country Germany
State Brandenburg
District Urban district
 • Lord Mayor Steffen Scheller (CDU)
 • Total 228.80 km2 (88.34 sq mi)
Elevation 32 m (105 ft)
Population (2016-12-31)[1]
 • Total 71,664
 • Density 310/km2 (810/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 14772–14778
Dialling codes 03381
Vehicle registration BRB

Brandenburg an der Havel is a town in Brandenburg, Germany, which served as the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg until replaced by Berlin in 1417.

With a population of 71,778 (as of 2010), it is located on the banks of the River Havel. The town of Brandenburg provided the name for the medieval Bishopric of Brandenburg, the Margraviate of Brandenburg, and the current state of Brandenburg. Today it is a small town compared to nearby Berlin, but it was the original nucleus of the former realms of Brandenburg and Prussia.


Middle Ages

Flag of Brandenburg

The castle of Brandenburg, which had been a fortress of the Slavic tribe Stodoranie, was conquered in 929 by King Henry the Fowler. It was first mentioned as Brendanburg in 948. That the name of the city in the local Slavic language was Brennabor, a combination of two words brenna - defense and bor - fort, is an invention of the 17th century. The town remained German only until 983, when a Slavic rebellion was successful. During the next 170 years the area was ruled by Slavic princes of the Hevelli tribe. The last of them, Pribislav, died in 1150. From 1153/1154 to 1157 Brendanburg was part of the Slavonic Duchy of Kopanica, a fief of Poland. Afterwards Albert I settled here and became the first margrave of Brandenburg. The town was restricted to the western bank of the Havel until 1196, when it was extended to the eastern side. The parts on either side of the river were regarded as three towns (Old Town, New Town and Brandenburg cathedral district) for centuries.

In 1314–1315 the Old and New Towns joined the Hanseatic League. In the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) the towns suffered plundering and destruction which led to a loss of power; Potsdam became the new capital, and the court left the town of Brandenburg. In 1715 Old Town and New Town were merged to form a single town. In 1928 the Brandenburg cathedral district was added.

Modern history

Brandenburg an der Havel old town in 2015.

In the late 19th century Brandenburg an der Havel became a very important industrial center in the German Empire. Steel industries settled there, and several world-famous bicycle brands such as Brennabor, Corona and Excelsior were manufactured in the city. A world-famous toy industry was also established. With a giant industrial complex, the Deutsche Reichsbahn (German Imperial Railways) was located in Brandenburg-Kirchmöser during the time between the two world wars and the time of the former GDR. The city's excellent transport infrastructure was a big advantage.

In 1933/34, a concentration camp, one of the first in Nazi Germany, was located on Neuendorfer Straße in Brandenburg Old Town. After closing this inner city concentration camp, the Nazis used the Brandenburg-Görden Prison, located in the suburb of Görden. Later the old gaol became the Brandenburg Euthanasia Centre where the Nazis killed people with mental diseases, including children. They called this operation "Action T4" because of the Berlin address, Tiergartenstraße 4, the headquarters of this planned and well-organized forced euthanasia organisation. Brandenburg an der Havel was one of the very first locations in the Third Reich where the Nazis experimented with killing their victims by gas. Here, they prepared the mass killings in Auschwitz and other extermination camps. After complaints by local inhabitants about the smoke, the mobile furnaces used to burn the corpses ceased operation. Shortly after this, the Nazis closed the old prison.[citation needed]

In 1934, the Arado Aircraft Company (Arado Flugzeugwerke), which originated in Warnemünde, built a satellite factory in Brandenburg that began producing planes in 1935. The factory was expanded over the next five years, and produced trainers and other aircraft for the Luftwaffe during World War II. The existence of this factory was one of the reasons Brandenburg was heavily bombed in later stages of the war; by 1945, 70% of the city was destroyed.

Friedrich Fromm, a German officer involved in the July 20 plot to assassinate Hitler, was executed here in March 1945 for his part in the plot, even though Fromm betrayed those conspirators he knew and ordered their execution.

After German reunification the city's population declined from around 100,000 in 1989 to roughly 75,000 in 2005 through emigration. The migration was mainly by young people.


Brandenburg an der Havel:
Population development within the current boundaries (2013)
Year Population
1875 34 052
1890 44 664
1910 60 339
1925 70 519
1933 74 800
1939 91 208
1946 85 180
1950 83 434
1964 92 741
1971 96 929
Year Population
1981 97 510
1985 97 615
1989 96 084
1990 93 015
1991 91 332
1992 90 637
1993 89 950
1994 88 503
1995 86 753
1996 85 278
Year Population
1997 83 263
1998 81 384
1999 79 828
2000 78 404
2001 77 245
2002 76 166
2003 75 485
2004 74 875
2005 74 129
2006 73 475
Year Population
2007 72 954
2008 72 516
2009 72 264
2010 71 778
2011 71 381
2012 71 149
2013 71 032
2014 71 032
2015 71 574


Tram in Brandenburg an der Havel

The city is located on the navigable River Havel, a European Waterway, and vessels travelling through the city have a choice of two routes. The original route used the Brandenburg City Canal, a 4-kilometre (2.5 mi) route through the city centre that descends through the Stadtschleuse Brandenburg, but this route is constrained in size and now limited to leisure craft. Commercial traffic instead uses the Silo Canal that passes through the eastern and northern fringes of the city.[3]

The city is located at the junction of Federal Highways 1 and 102 and the A2 autobahn is nearby. The Berlin and Magdeburg railway also runs through Brandenburg an der Havel.

The centrepiece of the city's urban public transport system is the Brandenburg an der Havel tramway network.


Panoramic view over Brandenburg.

The Dominsel (Cathedral Island) is the historic heart of the town. Here stands its oldest edifice: the Dom St. Peter und Paul (Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul). Although construction began in the Romanesque style in 1165, it was completed as a Gothic cathedral during the 14th century. While the exterior is rather austere, the cathedral surprises the visitor with its sumptuous interior, especially the painted vault of the Bunte Kapelle (Coloured Chapel) and the Wagner organ (1725), one of the most famous Baroque organs in Germany.

The Katharinenkirche (St. Catherine's Church) built in 1401 in the Neustadt is an impressive example of northern German brick Gothic architecture. The Gotthardtkirche (St. Gotthardt's Church) was built of the same material just a few years later.

Another interesting building is the Altstädtisches Rathaus (Old Town Hall), a late Gothic brick building with stepped gables and an ornate portal. In front of it stands a 5.35m high statue of the knight Roland. Made of sandstone, the statue was erected in 1474 as a symbol of the town's independence.

There is also a part of Brandenburg's medieval city wall, with four preserved watchtowers: Steintorturm and Mühlentorturm (in the New Town), and Rathenower Torturm and Plauer Torturm (in the Old Town).

The Brandenburg Industrial Museum is an Anchor Point of ERIH, The European Route of Industrial Heritage. Brandenburg has its own theatre (Brandenburger Theater), a professional symphony orchestra (Brandenburger Symphoniker) and a wide range of local history and archaeology museums.

Notable residents

Gustav Noske 1933
  • Vicco von Bülow (1923–2011), known as Loriot, German comedian, humorist, cartoonist, film director, actor and writer
  • Gustav Noske, (1868-1946), German politician (SPD), Minister of Defence between 1919 and 1920
  • Joachim Kemmer, (1939-2000), film actor
  • Judith of Poland, (c. 1130/35-1171/75), buried in the cathedral
  • Józef Unrug, (1884-1973), Polish vice admiral, was born here

Sons and daughters of the town

(By year of birth in Brandenburg an der Havel)

Ludwig Chronegk around 1860

Twin towns

See also


  1. ^ "Bevölkerung im Land Brandenburg nach amtsfreien Gemeinden, Ämtern und Gemeinden 31. Dezember 2016 (Fortgeschriebene amtliche Einwohnerzahlen auf Grundlage des Zensus 2011)". Amt für Statistik Berlin-Brandenburg (in German). 2016. 
  2. ^ Detailed data sources are to be found in the Wikimedia Commons.Population Projection Brandenburg at Wikimedia Commons
  3. ^ Sheffield, Barry (1995). Inland Waterways of Germany. St Ives: Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson. pp. 93–100. ISBN 0-85288-283-1. 
  • Bevölkerungszahlen

External links

  • Official website (in German)
  • Cathedral of Brandenburg (in German)
  • Brandenburg guide (in German)
  • Tramway in Brandenburg
  • Potsdamer Brandenburger Havelseen, Tourist information
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