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Stadtteil of Dessau-Roßlau
Market square with fountain
Market square with fountain
Coat of arms of Dessau
Coat of arms
Location of Dessau
Dessau is located in Germany
Dessau is located in Saxony-Anhalt
Coordinates: 51°50′N 12°15′E / 51.833°N 12.250°E / 51.833; 12.250Coordinates: 51°50′N 12°15′E / 51.833°N 12.250°E / 51.833; 12.250
DistrictUrban districts of Germany
 • Total182.81 km2 (70.58 sq mi)
61 m (200 ft)
 • Total77,394
 • Density420/km2 (1,100/sq mi)
Time zoneCET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes
Dialling codes0340
Vehicle registrationDE

Dessau is a town and former municipality in Germany on the junction of the rivers Mulde and Elbe, in the Bundesland (Federal State) of Saxony-Anhalt. Since 1 July 2007, it has been part of the newly created municipality of Dessau-Roßlau. Population of Dessau proper: 77,973 (June 2006).


The river Mulde near Dessau

Dessau is situated on a floodplain where the Mulde flows into the Elbe. This causes yearly floods. The worst flood took place in the year 2002, when the Waldersee district was nearly completely flooded. The south of Dessau touches a well-wooded area called Mosigkauer Heide. The highest elevation is a 110 m high former rubbish dump called Scherbelberg in the southwest of Dessau. Dessau is surrounded by numerous parks and palaces that make it one of the greenest towns in Germany.


Dessau was first mentioned in 1213. It became an important centre in 1570, when the Principality of Anhalt was founded. Dessau became the capital of this state within the Holy Roman Empire. In 1603 the state was split into four – later five – Anhalts, Dessau becoming the capital of the mini-state of Anhalt-Dessau. In 1863 two of the noble lines died out, and the Duchy of Anhalt became reunited. From 1918 to 1945, Dessau was the capital of Free State of Anhalt.

Cavalierstrasse in 1900 with the Erbprinzliches Palais Dessau

Dessau is famous for its college of architecture Bauhaus. It moved here in 1925 after it had been forced to close in Weimar. Many famous artists were lecturers in Dessau in the following years, among them Walter Gropius, Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. The Nazis forced the closure of the Bauhaus in Dessau 1932.

The town was almost completely destroyed by Allied air raids in World War II on 7 March 1945, six weeks before American troops occupied the town. Afterwards it was rebuilt with typical GDR concrete slab architecture (Plattenbau) and became a major industrial centre of East Germany. Since German reunification in 1990 many historic buildings have been restored.

The composer Kurt Weill was born in Dessau. Since 1993 the city has hosted an annual Kurt Weill Festival. Dessau was also the birthplace of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn (in 1729), and Leopold I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (der alte Dessauer) (on 3 July 1676), a lauded field marshal for the Kingdom of Prussia.

In January 2005, Dessau gained notoriety for the mysterious death of a Sierra Leonean convicted drug trafficker and failed asylum seeker Oury Jalloh.


Castles and gardens[edit]

Georgium Castle

The Bauhaus[edit]

Bauhaus Dessau building, built 1925-26

There are several examples of Bauhaus architecture in Dessau, some of which are part of the Bauhaus and its Sites in Weimar, Dessau and Bernau World Heritage Site. This includes the Bauhaus Dessau school building, designed by Walter Gropius, which is one of the iconic modernist buildings of the 20th century.[2]

In addition to the buildings that are part of the World Heritage Site, other notable Bauhaus architecture in Dessau includes:

  • Dessau-Törten Estate, designed by Walter Gropius in 1926–1928.[3]
  • Stahlhaus (Steel House), designed by Georg Muche and Richard Paulick in 1926–1927.[4]
  • Fieger Haus, designed by Carl Fieger in 1927.[5]
  • The Kornhaus, a restaurant overlooking the river Elbe designed by Carl Fieger in 1929–1930.[6]
  • Arbeitsamt (Employment office), designed by Walter Gropius in 1928–1929. It is now the Dessau-Roßlau Amt für Ordnung und Verkehr (Authority of Public Security and Regulations).[7]


Church of St. Peter and Paul
  • St. Mary's Church
  • St. John's Church
  • Georgenkirche
  • Petruskirche
  • Auferstehungskirche
  • Pauluskirche
  • Christuskirche
  • Propsteikirche St. Peter and Paul
  • Dreieinigkeit
  • St. Josef

Other sights[edit]

Umweltbundesamt (UBA)
  • Townhall, built in 1901
  • The palaces of Waldersee and Dietrich, today used as libraries
  • General post office
  • New water tower
  • Umweltbundesamt (formerly Wörlitzer Bahnhof)
  • Footbridge crossing the river Mulde


Theatres and museums[edit]

  • Anhalt Theatre [8] including Gregor Seyffert & Compagnie [9]
  • City history museum
  • Anhalt Art Gallery at Georgium Palace with park (currently closed)
  • Mosigkau Palace museum
  • Luisium Castle museum with park
  • Oranienbaum Palace museum with park
  • Museum of Natural- and Prehistory
  • Moses Mendelssohn-Centre
  • Hugo Junkers Technical Museum
  • UCI Cinema Complex
  • Kiez-Cinema (one of the smallest Cinemas in Germany) [10]

Regional media[edit]

  • Mitteldeutsche Zeitung (daily newspaper, Monday-Saturday)
  • Wochenspiegel (free newspaper on Wednesday) and Supersonntag (free newspaper on Sunday)
  • REGJO (quarterly Economy Journal for the Region of Leipzig/Halle)
  • leo[11] (monthly, regional Event- and Culture Magazine)
  • local Studios of the MDR and SAW (Radiostations)
  • local TV Stations: RAN 1 and Offener Kanal Dessau


Public transport[edit]

The Dessau tramway network has three lines and is supplemented by numerous bus lines. Dessau's public transport is operated by Dessauer Verkehrsgesellschaft [de] (DVG), which transports around 6 million people each year.

Railway stations[edit]

The Dessau-Wörlitzer-Eisenbahn (DWE)

Dessau Hauptbahnhof (main station) has connections to Magdeburg, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Bitterfeld and Lutherstadt Wittenberg. The line from Berlin was opened on 1 September 1840. The Dessau-Bitterfeld line (opened on 17 August 1857) was electrified in 1911, the first fully electrified long-distance railway in Germany. Dessau was part of the InterCity long distance network until the year 2002. Regional trains also stop at the stations Dessau-Süd, Dessau-Alten, Dessau-Mosigkau and Rodleben. The Dessau-Wörlitzer-Eisenbahn (railway) connects Dessau to Wörlitz, a town situated 15 km to the east, and the Wörlitzer Park. The starting point of this railway is the main station. This train also stops at the stations Dessau-Waldersee and Dessau-Adria.


Bridge of the A9 near Dessau crossing the river Elbe

In 1938 the autobahn A9 (Munich-Berlin) was built southeast of the town area. The two exits to Dessau on the A9 are called "Dessau-Ost" and "Dessau-Süd". Dessau is also crossed by the "Bundesstrassen" (federal roads) B 184 and B 185.


The airfield of Dessau is situated northwest of the town between the districts Kleinkühnau, Alten and Siedlung. A destination with a charter airplane is possible. The runway has a length of 1000 m. The Hugo Junkers Technical Museum is situated in the neighbourhood (directly east) of the airfield, which has the eastern end of the modern runway almost directly abutting the historical World War II Junkers factory airstrip's western end.


Today the "Leopoldshafen" (harbour) is used for the annual international motorboat racing events. The "Wallwitzhafen" is used as a private sportboat harbour and the "Elbehafen" near the Grain House is used for cruisers. The next harbour for goods is situated in Rosslau.


Dessau, is located in the flat landscape of the Saxon Lowland. The bike roads have a length of about 146 km and connect all the parks and sights.


Sports like soccer, cycling, handball, volleyball, gymnastics, table tennis and tennis have a long tradition and are very popular in Dessau. The former soccer team "SG Waggonbau Dessau" won the GDR soccer cup in 1949. The handball team played in the GDR "Oberliga" and since 1990 they are playing in the 1st and 2nd "Bundesliga". Currently, Dessau has around 80 sport clubs with over 13,500 members. Next to the traditional sports, Dessau has active sport clubs in the following disciplines: aikido, badminton, basketball, canoeing, chess, climbing, cycling, dancing, fishing, horse riding, karate, judo, jiu-jitsu, motorboat, rowing, speedskating, sailing, skittles, skydiving, squash, swimming, table tennis, water polo, wrestling and others.


  • Numerous Sports Fields (more than 10)
  • Skittle Alleys (6)
  • Tennis Courts (3)
  • Boathouses (3)
  • Indoor Swimming Pools (2)
  • Paul-Greifzu-Stadion (for 22,000 viewers)
  • Speedskating Course
  • Climbing Tower Zuckerturm
  • Anhalt Arena Dessau (for 3,600 viewers)
  • Airfield Dessau
  • Rifle Range


Town Hall

The borough of Dessau was first mentioned in 1372. The head of the town called "Schultheiss" was constituted by the count. Together with a few assessors the "Schultheiss" formed the town council. As of 1372 the town council was divided into two agencies, as of 1600 into three agencies and as of 1785 again into two agencies. The "Schultheiss" of Dessau changed nearly every year until the town council constitution was cancelled in 1832. Afterwards Dessau became a Town Council and a Town Delegation Constitution. Since 1852 the town leader is called Mayor. During the National Socialist period the Mayor was appointed by the party (NSDAP). After World War II the Soviets formed an executive council with a Mayor. The town council constitution was elected by the people. Since German reunification this committee is freely elected. Since 1994 it has been called "Stadtrat". Since 1994, the Mayor is directly elected by the people.

In 2007, Dessau became part of the municipality Dessau-Roßlau.


Peter Kuras (born 1958) was elected mayor of Dessau-Roßlau in June 2014 with 75,82 % of the votes for a term of seven years. He is the successor of Klemens Koschig (born 1957, independent), who was elected in 2007 with 56,8 % of the votes.

Town Council (Stadtrat)[edit]

Consists of the following parties: (Local Elections from 25 May 2014)

  • CDU (14 seats),
  • The Left (11 seats)
  • The Greens (3 seats)
  • SPD (7 seats)
  • Pro Dessau (5 seats)
  • AfD (3 seats)
  • FDP (2 seats)
  • Neues Forum: (2 seats)
  • Bürgerliste (2 seats)
  • NPD 1 seat

Town twinning[edit]


  • Anhalt University of Applied Sciences (Architecture, Facility Management, Design and Geoinformatics) [13]
  • Learning Centre from the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (Halle/ Dessau)
  • Anhalt Vocational School Centre Hugo Junkers I, II and III (Chapon-School)
  • Grammar School "Walter Gropius"
  • Grammar School "Liborius"
  • Grammar School "Philantropinum"

European subsidies[edit]

Dessau is part of the EU-URBAN programme. This programme is based on the integrated approach that is used for tackling the environmental, economical and social problems, affecting the deprived urban areas. There are several projects in Dessau sponsored via this subsidy.

Notable people[edit]

Leopold I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau

Born in Dessau before 1900[edit]

Wilhelm Rust 1885
Ludwig Philippson

After 1900, born in Dessau[edit]



  1. ^ Unesco. Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz. Retrieved 2 January 2019
  2. ^ "Bauhaus and its Sites in Weimar, Dessau and Bernau". UNESCO. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  3. ^ Bauhaus Dessau Foundation. Dessau-Törten Estate. Retrieved 2 January 2019
  4. ^ Bauhaus Dessau Foundation. Steel House. Retrieved 2 January 2019
  5. ^ Bauhaus Dessau Foundation. Fieger House. Retrieved 2 January 2019
  6. ^ Bauhaus Dessau Foundation. Kornhaus. Retrieved 2 January 2019
  7. ^ Bauhaus Dessau Foundation. Employment Office. Retrieved 2 January 2019
  8. ^ [1], Anhalt Theatre (German)
  9. ^ [2], Gregor Seyffert Company (English and German)
  10. ^ [3], Kiez Cinema Website (German)
  11. ^ [4], leo Magazine (German)
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-08-27. Retrieved 2007-06-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), Twin Towns from
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-06-15. Retrieved 2007-06-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), Anhalt University Website

External links[edit]