"Magdeburg" Top 5 Page for this destination Magdeburg by Kathrin_E

Magdeburg Travel Guide: 112 reviews and 374 photos

World War II bombs destroyed the old city centre. The DDR regime restored the Dom and a few other historical buildings but they did their best to turn Magdeburg into a socialist city. The typical residential blocks of prefabricated concrete pieces, known as Plattenbauten, were erected even in the heart of the town around the Dom. Along the northern part of Breiter Weg, the main street, a socialist shopping mall was built. The former monastery of Liebfrauen was turned into an art museum, the church into a concert hall.

I visited Magdeburg for the first time in February 1990, a few weeks after the opening of the iron fence. Apart from some visits to East Berlin, which had always been better off, this was my first and rather shocking impression of a DDR town. The air was heavy with brown coal fumes from the heating. Old buildings were decayed and the huge Plattenbauten did not look too good either. A few photos – I should have taken more – are to be seen in my 1990 travelogue.

Twenty years later a lot has improved. However, there was not much historical flair to save in the wounded and torn centre. Instead, new buildings have been erected, huge shopping malls and office buildings. The capital of Saxony-Anhalt is a workers’ town and has the atmosphere of a workers’ town. The medieval cathedral, founded by Emperor Otto I. around 1000, is its main attraction and largest historical monument.

Further away from the city centre, however, large pre-war quarters have survived. First of all there is the very pretty late 19th century area around Hegelstraße in the south. For the fans of early 20th century architecture, there is a large amount of 1920s residential quarters around Stadtfeld and Bruno-Taut-Ring (no coincidence, the ring road was named after the most important architect who designed many of these buildings).

My latest visit took place on January 2, 2009. It was a cold winter’s day. Merciful snow covered all the leftovers of New Year’s Eve parties and fireworks. During the day it was snowing heavily, as you see in many of the photos. In the late afternoon the sky cleared and it was a blue, freezing winter’s evening. In the snow, even a city like Magdeburg looks pretty...

I had been to Magdeburg quite often some years ago when I did some research projects for the regional church, so you will also spot some summer photos in my pages.

This poor city's heart has been wounded and torn first by World War II, then by 40 years of socialism. The latter did its best to wipe out the remnants of Magdeburg's history.

Though not completely. One has to look for the traces of history. Recent efforts to improve the quality of life in this city are visible. Magdeburg is not a place one would cross oceans for, but if you come to see its greatest monument, the cathedral, add some time to your visit and look further round. Not only to learn about DDR times.

  • Last visit to Magdeburg: Jan 2009
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (25)

Comments (4)

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Dec 21, 2010 at 11:29 AM

    Yes, I'm sure Magdeburg in Jan. 1990 must have been a culture shock. I went to Leipzig & Nordhausen in the 1960s and 70s, so I was somewhat accustomed to GDR cities, but Rostock in Nov. 1989 was still an adventure. Piles of brown coal everywhere.

  • amsor's Profile Photo
    Aug 16, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    great Hundertwasser architecture !

  • german_eagle's Profile Photo
    Sep 7, 2009 at 10:26 AM

    "Rough charm"? LOL Didn't notice that :-) Excellent page on this poor city. Aber eigentlich hätte ich schon noch ein paar mehr Sehenswürdigkeiten in petto. Werde also doch die Seite basteln ...

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Jan 26, 2009 at 11:29 PM

    Yeah, I remember visiting it in "DDR-Zeit"... It was good too.


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