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Brandenburg an der Havel

Coordinates: 52°25′N 12°32′E / 52.417°N 12.533°E / 52.417; 12.533
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Brandenburg an der Havel
Brandenburg an der Havel in May 2015
Brandenburg an der Havel in May 2015
Flag of Brandenburg an der Havel
Coat of arms of Brandenburg an der Havel
Location of Brandenburg an der Havel
Brandenburg an der Havel is located in Germany
Brandenburg an der Havel
Brandenburg an der Havel
Brandenburg an der Havel is located in Brandenburg
Brandenburg an der Havel
Brandenburg an der Havel
Coordinates: 52°25′N 12°32′E / 52.417°N 12.533°E / 52.417; 12.533
DistrictUrban district
 • Lord mayor (2018–26) Steffen Scheller[1] (CDU)
 • Total228.80 km2 (88.34 sq mi)
32 m (105 ft)
 • Total73,609
 • Density320/km2 (830/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
Postal codes
14770, 14772, 14774, 14776
Dialling codes03381
Vehicle registrationBRB

Brandenburg an der Havel (German pronunciation: [ˈbʁandn̩bʊʁk ʔan deːɐ̯ ˈhaːfl̩] ; Polabian: Brenna) is a town in Brandenburg, Germany, which served as the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg until it was replaced by Berlin in 1417.

With a population of 72,040 (as of 2020), 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 was the original nucleus of the former realms of Brandenburg and Prussia.


Middle Ages[edit]

Items from the Finów Hoard (Replica; Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, Berlin

The name of the city is a combination of two words braniti – to protect/defend and bor – forest/wood. Brenna, had been a fort of the West Slavic tribe Stodoranie, was conquered in 929 after the Battle of Lenzen by the German King Henry the Fowler of Saxony. It was at this time first mentioned in documents as Brennaburg. By the death of King Henry all the tribes between the Middle Elbe and Middle Oder paid tribute to the German King. At the Magdeburg Assembly of Princes in 948 the Bishoprics of Brandenburg and Havelburg were established. The Holy Roman Emperor Otto 'the Great' took control of these new sees. In 983 there was a major Slav uprising involving numerous tribes and until the middle of the 12th century the area east of the Elbe remained under their control.[3] During this period the area was ruled by Slavic chiefs of the Hevelli tribe. The last of them, Pribislav, died in 1150.

Following Pribislav's death his widow Petrissa enabled Albert I 'the Bear' to take over Brandenburg fort by agreement and provide it with a joint German-Slav garrison. Albert now styled himself Margrave of Brandenburg. By 1160 systematic settlement of the Elbe-Havel-Spree basin by nobility, burghers, and peasants from the Schwabengau area (Harz), the Netherlands, the Rhineland, and Westphalia was in progress. In 1165 the foundation stone for a cathedral was laid on the cathedral island of Brandenburg. It was consecrated five years later in the presence of Albert the Bear and his sons.[4] 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[edit]

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 murdered people with mental diseases, including children. This programme later came to be known as "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 first locations in Nazi Germany where the Nazis experimented with murdering their victims by gas[citation needed]. The lessons here were later applied for mass murders 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 20 July 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.

On 25 July 1952 Plaue and Kirchmöser were incorporated in the city of Brandenburg an der Havel.[5]

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[6]
YearPop.±% p.a.
1875 34,052—    
1890 44,664+1.82%
1910 60,339+1.52%
1925 70,519+1.04%
1933 74,800+0.74%
1939 91,208+3.36%
1946 85,180−0.97%
1950 83,434−0.52%
1964 92,741+0.76%
1971 96,929+0.63%
1981 97,510+0.06%
1985 97,615+0.03%
1989 96,084−0.39%
1990 93,015−3.19%
1991 91,332−1.81%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1992 90,637−0.76%
1993 89,950−0.76%
1994 88,503−1.61%
1995 86,753−1.98%
1996 85,278−1.70%
1997 83,263−2.36%
1998 81,384−2.26%
1999 79,828−1.91%
2000 78,404−1.78%
2001 77,245−1.48%
2002 76,166−1.40%
2003 75,485−0.89%
2004 74,875−0.81%
2005 74,129−1.00%
2006 73,475−0.88%
YearPop.±% p.a.
2007 72,954−0.71%
2008 72,516−0.60%
2009 72,264−0.35%
2010 71,778−0.67%
2011 71,381−0.55%
2012 71,149−0.33%
2013 71,032−0.16%
2014 71,032+0.00%
2015 71,574+0.76%
2016 71,664+0.13%
2017 71,886+0.31%
2018 72,124+0.33%
2019 72,184+0.08%
2020 72,040−0.20%


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.[7]

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 St. Peter and Paul Cathedral. 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 people[edit]

Ludwig Chronegk around 1860
Gustav Noske 1933

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Brandenburg an der Havel is twinned with:[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ergebnis der Oberbürgermeisterwahl in Brandenburg an der Havel, accessed 30 June 2021.
  2. ^ "Bevölkerungsentwicklung und Bevölkerungsstandim Land Brandenburg Dezember 2022" (PDF). Amt für Statistik Berlin-Brandenburg (in German). June 2023.
  3. ^ Streidt, Gert, & Feierabend, Peter, editors, Prussia, Konemann pubs., Cologne, 1999, p.14. ISBN 3-8290-2590-4
  4. ^ Streidt & Feierabend, 1999, p.15.
  5. ^ Gemeinden 1994 und ihre Veränderungen seit 01.01.1948 in den neuen Ländern, Verlag Metzler-Poeschel, Stuttgart 1995, ISBN 3-8246-0321-7, Hrsg.: Statistisches Bundesamt
  6. ^ Detailed data sources are to be found in the Wikimedia Commons.Population Projection Brandenburg at Wikimedia Commons
  7. ^ Sheffield, Barry (1995). Inland Waterways of Germany. St Ives: Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson. pp. 93–100. ISBN 0-85288-283-1.
  8. ^ Robertson, John George (1911). "Fouqué, Friedrich Heinrich Karl de la Motte" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 10 (11th ed.). pp. 749–750.
  9. ^ "Rüstow, Friedrich Wilhelm" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 23 (11th ed.). 1911. p. 937.
  10. ^ "Städtepartnerschaften der Stadt Brandenburg an der Havel". stadt-brandenburg.de (in German). Brandenburg an der Havel. Retrieved February 10, 2021.

External links[edit]