Magdeburg sits by the banks of the River Elbe in central Germany, halfway between Hanover and Berlin. This location makes it a significant centre for trade and industry, and a notable contributor in the Central German Metropolitan Region. Historically, Magdeburg was the seat of Otto I, the first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. In the 1200s it was one of the greatest cities of the empire, with a population of over 20,000 (although today the count stands at well over 10 times that amount). Magdeburg later became a major centre for the growth of Protestantism in the country, being the place where Martin Luther studied and the first major city to publish his writing. Today, the city delights in being thoroughly modern – a centre for business, science and research which stems from Magdeburg’s two centres for study: the Otto von Guericke University and the University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-Stendal.
Cited as the cradle of the German nation, Magdeburg offers visitors a rich mix of old-world architecture and cutting-edge design – from the stark, sparse monochrome of the twin-towered Protestant cathedral to the twisting pink ode to modernity that is Hundertwasser’s somewhat psychedelic Green Citadel. In the centre of Magdeburg stands the Lutheran Cathedral of St Catherine and St Maurice, one of the oldest Gothic churches in Germany and the burial site of Emperor Otto the Great. Built of towering arches and vaulted ceilings in pristine white stone, this striking cathedral is home to a number of historic statues and has stood as the landmark of the city for more than 800 years.
Several institutions have grown up as a result of Magdeburg’s academic heritage, thanks in part to the city’s excellent travel links by water, road and rail. The most prominent centres include the Max Planck, Leibniz and Fraunhofer Institutes, the Experimental Factory and the Centre for Neuroscience Innovation and Technology. There are also numerous other centres of design, research and innovation, including the Port of Science and the Denkfabrik. The city is equally prolific in cultural terms, with galleries, museums, theatres and parks playing host to events like opera and classical concerts, as well as the Elbauenpark hot air balloons and the Park Jazz Festival.
Speaking of parks, Jahrtausendturm im Elbauenpark is the city’s go to green escape. It’s beautiful in the spring and summer and also home to a science museum called the Millennium Tower. Other popular parks include Elbauen, which is more of a nature reserve which lies a little outside of the city itself and Herrenkrug, that offers some beautiful leafy avenues to enjoy a stroll down.
Magdelburg’s a great place to shop if you’re in search of a little retail therapy, with a number of malls to be found throughout the city. One of the most notable historically is the Karstadt, which has been in existence since the Cold War and still offers architecture from the time.