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Cathedral towns and cities in Saxony-Anhalt - steeped in history

The federal state of Saxony-Anhalt in the heart of Germany was one of the cultural centres of the Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages. The region's great historical importance can still be seen on the Romanesque Route, which connects eight of the foremost cathedral cities with their spectacular ecclesiastical and half-timbered buildings, castles, abbeys and churches. The monuments you can admire along the route feature many Romanesque and Gothic elements and all date from the 10th to the 13th centuries. The countryside surrounding these cathedral cities is characterised by flat plains in the north and the Lower Harz in the southwest. It is also criss-crossed by a number of important waterways including the Elbe and Saale rivers, the Mittelland Canal and the Elbe-Havel Canal, which all meet up at the waterways intersection near the regional capital, Magdeburg
Handel in the cathedral - Halle
Situated in the beautiful Saale valley, Halle is the birthplace of the famous composer, Georg Friedrich Handel. The popular Handel Festival is held in the city's cathedral, which is more than 700 years old and contains early Gothic as well as baroque stylistic elements. Other highlights in Halle include Giebichenstein Castle - the entire castle ruins were uncovered during the course of excavations and can now be visited at the open-air museum. From the observation point, you can enjoy wonderful panoramic views of the Saale valley.
Journey into the past in Magdeburg
Magdeburg's Cathedral of St. Mauritius and St. Katharine is the oldest Gothic religious building on German soil. Its many exquisite artworks including ancient columns, the grave of Emperor Otto I dating from 973 and a Tree of Life crucifix are particularly worth seeing. For those interested in modern art, a visit to the "Green Citadel" building complex designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser is an absolute must.
Halberstadt - the gateway to the Harz
Halberstadt has two major historical highlights. The Church of Our Lady dates from the 11th century and is the only Romanesque basilica with four towers in the whole of central Germany. The cathedral, which overlooks Halberstadt's old quarter, is surrounded by Romanesque, baroque, neo-Gothic and modern buildings. Its design was influenced by French Gothic cathedral architecture.
Brick Gothic in Stendal
The former Hanseatic city of Stendal is renowned for its brick Gothic architecture. The old quarter is a real treasure trove of stories and history - it is home to St. Nicholas' Cathedral, the town hall and, of course, one of the Roland statues erected in a number of German cities in the Middle Ages as a symbol of civic liberty and independence and a reflection of the status of this national hero.
Havelberg - a small town with a great religious culture
The main attraction in the small town of Havelberg on the Romanesque Route is St. Mary's Cathedral dating from 1150. Other highlights that give Havelberg its distinct character include the St. Anna hospital chapel, the Pferdemarkt (horse market) dating from 1750, the Beguinenhaus - the town's oldest building with a sandstone relief, and the Prignitz Museum, which is almost 100 years old.
Moritzburg Palace in Zeitz
The baroque Moritzburg Palace consists of a baroque gate house, the Gothic Church of St. Peter und St. Paul, a moat and fortifications. The well-tended grounds include themed gardens such as a pleasure garden and Japanese garden. Other popular attractions in the town include the "Underground System of Zeitz", a mysterious system of 200 to 300 passages and tunnels where beer was once brewed and stored.
11th century relics - Merseburg and Naumburg
The prince-bishopric of Merseburg is known for its Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and St. Lawrence. Treasures housed inside the building include Germany's largest Romantic organ on which Franz Liszt performed his "Prelude and Fugue on B.A.C.H." for the first time in 1856.

The Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in Naumburg dates back to the 11th century and is one of the foremost buildings of the late- Romanesque period. The cathedral's famous west chancel, a prime example of early- Gothic architecture, was added much later after the middle of the 13th century.


The best sausages in a tin and other culinary delights
The inauguration ceremony for the Kyffhäuser monument was held in 1896. Unfortunately, a massive storm broke out and the sausage manufacturer, Heine, who was originally expecting to cater for 40,000 visitors, found himself sitting on a whole load of Halberstadt sausages. To prevent the sausages from going off, he perfected a method for cooking and conserving them. Now they are regularly sold in tins. A glass of Saale-Unstrut wine provides the perfect accompaniment. And for dessert, why not try some delicious Salzwedel "tree cake", a speciality in the shape of a Christmas tree that is enjoyed around the world.

A typical speciality from the Altmark region: Salzwedel "tree cake"


Tradition and history

  • Handel's House and Moritzburg Palace
  • Halle Nietzsche's House in Naumburg
  • Museum of Aviation and Technology, Merseburg
  • St. Burchard's Abbey
  • Cathedral deanery
  • St. Hilary's Feast
  • Bad Dürrenberg
  • Bad Lauchstädt
  • Freyburg
  • Nebra
  • Querfurt
  • Weissenfels
  • Lützen
  • Altmark region

Hospitality and gastronomy

  • Hasseröder beer
  • Pottsuse (a spread made of pork, dripping and spices)
  • Kersttranke (a specially matured, medieval white wine)
  • Guided culinary tours
  • "Altmärker Kulinarium" seal of quality
  • Meat roasted in a salt crust
  • Magdeburger Bötel (knuckle of pork)

Romanticism and charm

  • Writer's paradise
  • Peissnitz island
  • Castles, palaces and manor houses in the Altmark region
  • "Garden Dreams" park in Krumke
  • Rotehorn viewpoint in Rotehorn municipal park
  • Pubs and bars in Magdeburg
  • Spiegelsberge hunting lodge
  • Weddings in front of the giant wine barrel in Halberstadt
  • Westerburg moated castle
  • Palace gardens in Merseburg

Countryside and scenery

  • Botanical and zoological garden, Halle
  • Winegrowing region of Saale-Unstrut
  • Landscaped gardens in the Altmark region
  • End moraine landscape
  • Huy hills where many species of orchid thrive