10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Brandenburg an der Havel
Brandenburg an der Havel, once an important episcopal city with extensive trading connections, lies 50 kilometers southwest of Berlin on the River Havel. It's also surrounded by three lakes: the Beetzsee, the Plauer See, and the Breitlingsee. Located in the state of the same name, the city — often referred to simply as Brandenburg City — offers many fun things to do, in particular visiting its many notable tourist attractions, including the famous Dominsel, or Cathedral Island, historic churches, as well as its picturesque Town Hall and medieval city wall.
This is an excellent place from which to explore some of central Germany's most beautiful scenery, including some 3,500 lakes and more than 6,700 kilometers of waterways. Some of the best is right on the doorstep, including Westhavelland Nature Park, a huge nature preserve and wildlife sanctuary of unspoiled scenery; and the Götzer-Berg, a low-lying "mountain" that is popular for hiking and outdoor adventures. Learn more about the best places to visit with our list of the top attractions in Brandenburg an der Havel.
1. Brandenburg Cathedral
On the Dominsel — Cathedral Island — located between the River Havel and the Beetzsee, stands Brandenburg Cathedral (Dom St.Peter und Paul). Dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, this picturesque Romanesque basilica with its Gothic alterations was constructed in 1165 and boasts many notable features, including a memorial chapel built in 1953 commemorating Christians murdered during WWII.
Other important features are the Painted Chapel with its Late Romanesque wall paintings, 13th-century stained glass, a Romanesque crucifix, a 14th-century Bohemian Altar, the Lehnin Altar from 1518, the Angel Candelabrum from 1441, and numerous grave-slabs of bishops and canons.
Also of note is the Cathedral Museum, with its fine medieval vestments, and the Brandenburg Lenten Veil, dating from 1290. English language guided tours of both the cathedral and museum are available.
Address: Burghof 11, D-14776 Brandenburg
2. Old Town Hall and the Statue of Roland
Brandenburg an der Havel's Old Town Hall (Altstädtische Rathaus) dates from 1470 and is an attractive two-story Late Gothic brick building with a stepped gable, a tower and doorway with rich brick tracery, as well as a large pointed-arched doorway in the east gable.
Another notable feature is the statue of Roland, Germany's most famous knight, located in front of the building. Sculpted in 1474 as a symbol of municipal authority, this superb 5.35-meter-high sandstone structure is considered one of the most important figures of its kind in the country, rivaling a similar statue in Bremen.
Also of interest is the Ordonnanzhaus, one of Germany's oldest secular buildings, which dates back to the 13th-century.
Address: Market Square, 14770 Brandenburg an der Havel
3. St. Gotthardt's Church
The parish church of St. Gotthardt (Gotthardtkirche) dates from 1140 and is notable as the city's oldest church. Outstanding features of this well-preserved place of worship include its Late Gothic 15th-century nave and the unique Baroque crest on its tower.
Notable interior features include the 13th-century bronze Romanesque font, a Late Gothic Triumphal Cross group from the 15th-century, a tapestry from 1463 depicting a unicorn hunt, a Renaissance altar from 1559, and 16th- and 18th-century epitaphs.
Another old church of interest is St. John's. Although largely in ruins, this 13th-century brick church includes a superb rose window over the north doorway and a slender tower from 1500.
Address: Gotthardtkirchpl. 8, 14770 Brandenburg an der Havel
4. National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum (Archäologisches Landesmuseum) offers a fascinating glimpse into more than 50,000 years of history in the state of Brandenburg. Highlights of its more than 10,000 artifacts include the oldest woven net in the world, as well as ancient tools used in Neolithic times for surgical operations.
Other highlights include centuries-old weapons and jewelry, along with numerous interesting multi-media displays and presentations. The building itself, a restored medieval Dominican Friary (Paulikloster), was built in 1286 and is certainly of historical interest.
Address: Neustädtische Heidestraße 28, 14776 Brandenburg an der Havel
5. Brandenburg an der Havel City Museum
Split between two locations, the main exhibits of the Brandenburg an der Havel City Museum (Stadtmuseum Brandenburg) are found in the Frey-Haus, a lovely Baroque building constructed in 1723 with a fine staircase hall. In addition to its material illustrating the city's rich history, the museum — established in 1868 — also has an important collection of European graphic art from the 16th - 20th centuries, including an almost complete representation of the work of Daniel Chodowiecki, the famous Polish-German painter and printmaker. There's also a fascinating collection of toys, many of them made in the Brandenburg region.
Additional historical artifacts and displays focusing on the city's waterways can be seen at the museum's location in the Steintorturm, the stone gate tower found in the new part of town.
Address: Ritter Straße 96, 14770 Brandenburg an der Havel
6. The City Walls and Towers
Large parts of the old city walls in Brandenburg an der Havel still survive, along with a number of well preserved gate towers: the Rathenower Torturm, with its lovely Gothic arcading; the Plauer Torturm, famous for its openwork crown; the Mühltorturm; and the Steintorturm, used to host exhibits from the Brandenburg an der Havel City Museum.
Said to be among the best-preserved medieval fortifications in central Germany, the majority of these stone walls were built in the 14th century, and the best part of a day can be filled exploring them as part of a great walking tour of the old city.
7. St. Catherine's Church
The parish church of St. Catherine (St.-Katharinen-Kirche) dates from 1395 and lies in the center of Brandenburg's new town. A masterpiece of Hinrich Brunsberg, this vaulted hall-church, designed in what's called the "Rich" style, is an outstanding example of brick-built Gothic architecture. Of particular interest are the fine gables of the Fronleichnamskapelle, as well as its Late Gothic double-winged altar from 1474.
Other highlights include St. Hedwig's Altar from 1457, the font from 1440, the pulpit from 1668, and numerous epitaphs. Another church of note is Nikolaikirche, or St. Nicholas's Church, a brick-built Late Romanesque basilica dating from 1170.
Address: Katharinenkirchplatz 2, 14776 Brandenburg an der Havel
8. Friedenswarte and the Marienberg
Projecting from the Marienberg like a huge metallic popsicle, the 32.5-meter-high Friedenswarte — Brandenburg an der Havel's highest point — offers superb views of the city and the surrounding countryside. More than 180 steps take visitors to the tower's five observation decks with their panoramic views, and are well worth the effort. Afterwards, be sure to explore the historic Marienberg Park, a pleasant place to spend time as you soak up the views.
Address: Marienberg 3, 14470 Brandenburg an der Havel
9. Lehnin Abbey
Lehnin Abbey (Kloster Lehnin), the first Cistercian house in Brandenburg an der Havel, was founded in 1180 by Margrave Otto I in Lehnin, just a few miles south of the city. An Early Gothic basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the church was begun in 1190 and consecrated in 1262 and is one of the earliest and most important examples of North German brick-built architecture. Highlights of a visit include the monks' cells, the royal lodgings, the granary, the falconer's house, and the abbey walls with its triple-arched gatehouse.
10. Museum of Industry
The Museum of Industry (Industriemuseum) in Brandenburg an der Havel showcases more than 100 years of the city's important role in Germany's steelmaking industry. The focal point of its many exhibits is its Siemens-Martin open-hearth furnace, the only piece of machinery of its kind in Europe that's still open to the public.
The museum's three main exhibits deal with the social and political impacts of the industry, the history of steel production, and the invention of the open-hearth process. Other highlights include workshops, a blacksmith shop, a laboratory, and a steel worker's home. There's also an impressive collection of vintage cars and motorcycles.
Address: August-Sonntag-Straße 5, 14770 Brandenburg an der Havel
Where to Stay in Brandenburg an der Havel for Sightseeing
We recommend these conveniently located hotels, with easy access to Brandenburg's top sights:
- Sorat Hotel Brandenburg: 4-star hotel, central location, garden terrace, fitness room, sauna, family rooms and apartments.
- Pension Havelfloss: 3-star riverfront B&B, convenient location, friendly owner, free parking.
- Hotel Am Molkenmarkt: mid-range pricing, rooftop terrace, on-site restaurant, family rooms.
- City Hotel-Pension Brandenburg: budget B&B, family-run, cheerful decor, apartments with kitchens.