Dessau Tourist Attractions

Dessau, once capital of the Free State of Anhalt, lies at the junction of the Mulde with the Elbe. The Princes of Anhalt fostered literature and the arts, and the town developed into a considerable cultural center. The Bauhaus, the 20th century's most celebrated school of design, was based in Dessau from 1925 until its closure in 1932.


As a building, the Bauhaus (by Walter Gropiusand Adolf Meyer, 1925-26) in Dessau enjoys international reputation as one of the outstanding achievements of 20th C architecture. It is equally famous as the home, until 1932, of a school of design covering all artistic disciplines. Since 1977 the Bauhaus has been an important cultural center, with international exhibitions of architecture, graphic art and design; it is also the home of the Dessau Landestheater, the "Theater im Bauhaus". The building was restored in 1976-79. Its most striking external features are the large suspended glass curtain wall (area 1,400 sq. m/15,000 sq. ft), the Bauhaus Bridge and the entrance. Features of the interior are the Aula (Great Hall, with stage), the Mensa (Refectory), the vestibule and the exhibition and lecture room.
The Bauhaus is one of many "pilgrimage destinations" for students of architecture. It is a manifestation of an energetic and concentrated period of modernist development in Germany prior to World War II. The building, owing to the influence of Dutch De Stijl, is a pinwheeling dance of steel sash window construction centered on a multi-storied entrance hall. The classroom wing to the north and the workshop wing to the south is counterbalanced by the taller dormitory block to the east. The taut technical skin of the building is contrasted by the famous super-cantilevered balconies of the dormitories. The entire main body of the building rests on a half-basement level whose outside structural wall elements are painted in dark tones to contrast with the white stucco of the building above. The result is a floating effect made more dramatic by the expanse of windows. Elements of contemporary industry are used throughout from heating systems and light fixtures to flooring materials helping to demonstrate to the students of the day the spirit of the curriculum.
Address: Gropiusallee 38, D-06846 Dessau, Germany


The Bauhaus-Siedlung in Dessau-Törten (by Walter Gropius, 1926-28) is a settlement of 316 villas designed to demonstrate the idea of mechanizing the construction of houses. The Stahlhaus (by Georg Muche and Richard Paulick, 1926) stands on steel piles and is clad with sheet steel. The five Laubenganghäuser (by Hannes Meyer, 1930), three-story buildings with 21 flats in each, have staircases borne on arcades leading to the flats. The Meisterhäuser (by Gropius, 1926-28) in Ebertallee are examples of modern functional architecture.

Natural History Museum

The Dessau Museum of Natural History and Prehistory (1746-50) is a reproduction of the Santo Spirito Hospital in Rome; its angular tower, 40 m/130ft high, was added in 1847. The collection covers geology, mineralogy, botany, paleontology and zoology, with prehistoric material from the districts of Dessau, Rosslau and Köthen.
Address: Askanische Strasse 30-32, D-06842 Dessau, Germany

St George's Church

The Georgenkirche (1712-17) is in Dutch Baroque style; one of the architects involved was Carlo Ignazio Pozzi. Its most notable features are the three-story onion-domed tower and the mansard roof on an elliptical plan.


The Georgengarten in Dessau is an English-style garden.

Schloss Georgium Picture Gallery

In Dessau's Georgengarten is the neo-classical Schloss Georgium (by Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff, 1781), with a notable picture gallery (works by Dürer, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Tischbein; Dutch, Flemish and German painting of the 12th-20th centuries).
Address: Puschkinallee 100, D-06846 Dessau, Germany


In the Lehrpark (16 ha/40 ac; a zoological and botanical "study park") in Dessau's Georgengarten can be seen almost 500 animals of 110 different species and 125 species of tree. The park was established in the 19th C by August Hooff.

Schloss Mosigkau

9km/6mi southwest of Dessau is Schloss Mosigkau, a gem of Late Baroque architecture (designed by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff), which since 1951 has housed the State Museum (Staatliches Museum). The collection includes Dutch, Flemish and German painting of the 17th and 18th centuries (with works by Rubens, Pesne, Jordaens, van Dyck, Moreelse and Fyt) and 17th and 18th century applied and decorative art.
In the park (laid out in 1755-57 by C. F. Brose and J. G. Schoch in the French style, with Japanese gardens) are a variety of rare and exotic plants and a maze.
Address: Knobelsdorffallee 2, D-06847 Dessau, Germany


The Luisium in Dessau is an intimate English-style garden (by Johann Friedrich Eyserbeck, 1780), with a house in the style of an Italian villa (by Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff, 1774-77). It is lavishly decorated with arches, colonnades, temples, statues, monuments, grottoes, a Chinese bridge and an orangery.

Mosikau Castle Museum

The Mosikau Castle Museum is a late Baroque structure with a Rococo-style period gallery.
Address: Knobelsdorffallee 2, D-06847 Dessau, Germany


The Kurt-Weill-Zentrum documents the life of the European composer, Kurt Weill.
Address: Feininger-Haus, Ebertallee 63, D-06846 Dessau, Germany


Grafenhainichen, Germany

23km/14mi southeast of Dessau is Gräfenhainichen, birthplace of the greatest Protestant hymn-writer Paul Gerhardt (1607-76), with the neo-classical Paul Gerhardt Chapel (1844) and the Paul Gerhardt House (1907-09; monument to Gerhardt by Friedrich Pfannenschmidt).

Rosslau, Germany

Rosslau, 6km/4mi north of Dessau, on the Elbe, has a castle built in 1215. Other features of interest are the cemetery gateway (1822) and the Innungsbrauhaus (Guild Brewhouse; 1826), both by Gottfried Bandhauer.

Zerbst, Germany

20km/12.5mi north of Dessau is Zerbst, which has an almost completely preserved circuit of walls (4km/2.5mi long, up to 7 m/23ft high), with a wall-walk (half-timbered roof) and three 15th century town gates.


The Zerbst Museum, housed in an Early Gothic monastic church (1252), has a valuable collection including faience, incunabula, manuscripts and a Cranach Bible of 1541.
Address: Weinberg 1, D-39261 Zerbst, Germany

Trinity Church

The Trinity Church in Zerbst (by Cornelis Ruckwaert, 1683-96), in Dutch Baroque style, has fine sculpture by Giovanni Simonetti.


Thiessen, 16km/10mi north of Dessau, boasts a water-powered copper-works of around 1600, one of the oldest and best-preserved of its kind (now a museum).

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