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
Flag of Brandenburg an der Havel
Coat of arms of Brandenburg an der Havel
Coat of arms
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′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
DistrictUrban district
 • Lord mayorSteffen Scheller (CDU)
 • Total228.80 km2 (88.34 sq mi)
32 m (105 ft)
 • Total72,184
 • Density320/km2 (820/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: [ˈbʁandn̩ˌbʊʁk an deːɐ̯ ˈhaːfl̩]) 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[edit]

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

The castle of Brenna, which had been a fortress of the Slavic tribe Stodoranie, was conquered in 929 after the Battle of Łączyn by the Saxon King Henry the Fowler. It was first mentioned as Brendanburg in 948. The name of the city in the local Celto-Slavic language was Brenna from the Celto-Venetic name of deer and the surrounding forest were named Brennabor (Deerwood), a combination of two words braniti - to protect/defend and bor - forest/wood cz:Braniborsko is still used for the region. The town remained under Saxon control only until 983, when a Slavic rebellion was successful. During the next 170 years the area was ruled by Sarmato-Slavic Princes of the Hevelli tribe, relatives of the Sarmatian (Royal Scythians) Iaxamatae and Serboi. The last of them, Pribislav, died in 1150. From 1153/1154 to 1157 Brenna was part of the Slavonic Duchy of Kopanica, a fief of the Kingdom of Poland and was ruled by the Sarmatian Prince of the Iaxamatae also known as Świebodzice (the Liberators) Iakša of Miechów, Duke of Kopanica. Iakšas Sarmatian Griffin clan protected the local Celto-Veneto-Slavic population since its victory over the despotes of the Neo-Assyrian Empire at Nineveh (612 BCE) following the Danann (Duninowie), who protected the Solar Dynasty (known for its Golden hats and other hoards, e.g. the local Hoard of Finów or the famous Nibelung Hoard looted by the Burgundians) since the end of the 3rd millennium BCE and after which also ancient Dania was named. Their Scythian cavalry repelled the massive proto-Saxon Androphagi invasion on Pomerania already around 1300 BCE at Dołęża and served the Solar Dynasty eastern branch as personal guards until invasion of the Huns. After 1157 CE Albert I leading one of the Wendish Crusades 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[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 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 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.

On July 25, 1952, Plaue and Kirchmöser were incorporated in the city of Brandenburg an der Havel.[2]

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 (2017)[3]
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%


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.[4]

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 residents[edit]

Ludwig Chronegk around 1860
Gustav Noske 1933

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Brandenburg an der Havel is twinned with:[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bevölkerung im Land Brandenburg nach amtsfreien Gemeinden, Ämtern und Gemeinden 31. Dezember 2019". Amt für Statistik Berlin-Brandenburg (in German). July 2020.
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ Detailed data sources are to be found in the Wikimedia Commons.Population Projection Brandenburg at Wikimedia Commons
  4. ^ Sheffield, Barry (1995). Inland Waterways of Germany. St Ives: Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson. pp. 93–100. ISBN 0-85288-283-1.
  5. ^ "Städtepartnerschaften der Stadt Brandenburg an der Havel". (in German). Brandenburg an der Havel. Retrieved February 10, 2021.

External links[edit]