Ryanair canceling my flight to Bulgaria meant that I suddenly had a free weekend with nowhere to go. Saturday’s dilemma was solved by Potsdam, and I honestly thought that Sunday would be a rest day for me because Potsdam itself was already a visual overload. Surprise, surprise. The lazy Asian booked a return trip to Magdeburg on FlixBus, and there’s no saying no now. I mean, the ticket was rather expensive for such a short trip. And now we get to add Saxony-Anhalt to our list of German states visited. Hooray?
There weren’t a lot of choices for Sachsen-Anhalt. When I try to decide which city to visit I usually just key in the name on Google Images and see if something interesting will catch my eye. For Magdeburg, it was this pink building complex that resembled a triple-layer birthday cake, or at least that’s how it looked like in my imagination. I later found out that it’s called the Green Citadel, for whatever reason. And so I ended up choosing the state capital over Halle, which is the largest city.
Getting off at Magdeburg Hbf, it immediately became evident that this is going to be a long day. By long day, I mean too much time in my hands. The city center is walkable from the main train and bus station, and almost all of the main tourist attractions neighbor one another. You don’t really need a map if you plan to just see the old city center. You just have to locate the steeples of Magdeburger Dom in the horizon and go that way. If you really need a map, there’s a big one right outside the Hbf. Take a pic for reference.
It was a chilly afternoon, rather cloudy, but the sun eventually came out for an hour or so to cooperate for a photo-op. The first attraction that greeted me as I strayed away from the station was a small square surrounded by restaurants and cafes, although a lot of them were closed given it was a Sunday. The centerpiece was a fountain with a sculpture that looked like a cauldron, with people attempting to get inside. A tall building with cool paintings of men and ladders can be seen in the background.
It is when you exit to the main road that the Green Citadel becomes fully visible. From there, you can also catch a glimpse of the cathedral’s twin towers not so far behind. It is then when I realized that this could have been a simpler half day trip, what with all the attractions being situated right next to one another. Don’t underestimate it, though. Walking around the area and taking photos, as well as just taking in the view, might take a few hours for you to complete.
The Green Citadel is a complex of establishments, but I think I saw some residential areas on the upper floors, too. It was the final work of an established architect, and the quirky design makes you remember Parc Guell somehow, if you’ve ever been to Barcelona. It is said that some people have criticized the weird design and choice of color, given how it does not jive that well with the prominent buildings surrounding it, particularly those that still evoke the grandeur of a bygone era. Well people, it’s art. Total eye candy!
Head south from there and you’ll end up at a large square in front of the church. The building to your right, which is right next to the Green Citadel, also subscribes to a modern architectural style. It also complements the pink color of the citadel thanks to its predominantly blue façade. The buildings flanking the northern and eastern edges of the plaza all look old and classy. As such, being in the middle is tantamount to mild mindfuck trying to reconcile those different architectural styles.
The protestant cathedral is considered as the oldest gothic church in Germany. Its history is said to go back as far as the 1300’s and it played a significant role in the spread of Protestantism in the country as spearheaded by Martin Luther. It also bore witness to the atrocities of war, particularly the sack of Magdeburg which killed how many thousands of locals. Nowadays it’s all tranquil and chill, thanks to its surroundings. You can just get lost in the vicinity, taking a stroll for hours.
The area lies on the western bank of the Elbe. You’ll see a street to the left if you are facing the cathedral from the plaza. Follow that road and go down the steps leading to Strasse der Romanik. Passing through, you will end up on a wall forming part of the old fortification with a good view of the river. There you will see people jogging or just walking along on a leisurely pace. That’s serenity right there. I don’t recall seeing benches, but if you head farther south you will find an elevated surface overlooking the water.
That area is also a good vantage point for a panoramic view of the cathedral. Or if you just prefer to chill, then invade one of the benches there for a good view of the riverbanks. You can also just head over to the cathedral and see what’s inside. I was able to get in but was quite surprised to find that its interior is almost bare. There are so much more to see outside, seriously. The courtyard is cool, though. It feels like the setting of a Middle Ages church conspiracy thriller! And my gallivanting ended right there.
[MAGDEBURG] A Green Citadel That's Actually Pink
[SAXONY-ANHALT] Budget and Itinerary
[SAXONY-ANHALT] Budget and Itinerary