Cottbus is a city in the southeast of Brandenburg state, in Germany. It is the state's second-largest city and is considered the cultural center of the Sorbs, a Slavic ethnic minority in eastern Germany. Cottbus sits on the southern edge of the famous Spreewald and north of the developing man-made Lusatian Lake District. After the flooding of the Cottbus-Nord surface mine, the city will lie on the shore of the one of the largest lakes in the district. Also to the north is the beautiful Schlaube Valley, which can easily be reached by day trip.


University library
Art Nouveau Theater

The name of the city comes from "Chotibuz" from the Sorbian (Wendish) language, which is itself a derivation of Choitische Budky, meaning approximately "pretty little houses".

Modern Cottbus is a small city, in what was formerly in East Germany, and due to high unemployment the city has suffered from the "brain drain" to more prosperous German cities. Its proximity to Berlin allows a lot of people to commute between the two cities. Today, it is most associated with coal mining, Communist-era prefabricated buildings, and the nearby Spreewald forest, but the city has much more to offer visitors than drab East German nostalgia.

The city's history is inexorably linked to its expansion during the industrial revolution. Today, it offers a beautiful and well-preserved medieval core and its surrounding 19th century districts that arose during the city's textile boom. There are many parks in and around the old city center which give the city a "green" reputation. The Soviet-era suburbs do not currently have much to interest tourists, but significant efforts to refurbish these districts and make them more attractive are being undertaken.

Historically, Cottbus is renowned for three specialties: Cloth, Grain and beer, and "baumkuche" (lit. tree-cakes), a traditional circular layer cake that resembles tree rings.

Starting in around 1860, the arrival of the industrial revolution granted Cottbus huge economic benefits. The first clothmaking factory and the first military barracks were founded here during that time. Then, in 1865, the railroad connecting Berlin to Görlitz was built through Cottbus, which resulted in an industrial and economic boom. Other railway companies eventually connected their lines through the city as well, ultimately interconnecting the city with the nearby clothing mill towns of Guben and Forst, as well as Wroclaw.

Dr. Carl-Thiem, the father of trauma surgery in Germany, founded a private clinic in the city in 1885, where it still resides. In 1886, the first telephone system was installed, and after a merger of the three largest German carpet manufacturers, a public textile college was also founded.

On November 1, 2008, the city's unique Art Nouveau theater celebrated the 100th anniversary of its opening, which was commemorated by a special ceremony featuring the local citizens, which was attended by the State President of Brandenburg.

Get in

By plane

Drewitz Airport lies a few miles north of the city, which is available for charter flights and civilian aviation uses, but offers no regular commercial service.

The nearest airport with international service is Dresden, 100 km southwest. Berlin Tegel and Schönefeld airports are slightly further, but offer a larger choice of destinations.

By train

Near Cottbus there is a railway station connected to the Intercity network (IC), with morning arrivals from Hamburg and Berlin, and evening arrivals from Norddeich via Berlin. Direct daily regional connections to Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, and Frankfurt (Oder) are also available. The train station is located near a connection to the municipal streetcar network, and several bus lines stop at the station proper.

By bus

Cottbus can be reached on the regional bus network that serves Brandenburg and the surrounding areas, the Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg. The regional bus tuerminal is found in the city center, near connections to streetcar lines 1, 2 and 4.

By car

Cottbus is located on the federal Autobahn Route A15 (E36), which runs west to Lübbenau, where is connects with A13 (E55) running northbound to Berlin and southbound to Dresden with a and Spur towards Dresden. Eastbound, the route terminates at the border with Poland and connects on to the Polish highway network. This motorway has two exits to the city Cottbus-West (16), and Cottbus-South (17).

Secondary regional route connecting to Cottbus are B97 from Guben to Spremberg and Hoyerswerda, B115 from Bad Muskau and Görlitz to Lübbenau and Lübben, B122 from Forst, and B169 from Senftenberg

Get around

The Cottbusverkehr GmbH (Cottbus Transit Authority) operates a network of four streetcar lines and eight primary bus routes in the city, in addition to three nighttime bus lines. Late night service runs from 9PM to 4:30AM daily.

Due to the compact size of the city, most destinations are easily reachable by bicycle or on foot.


African ground squirrel at the Cottbus Zoo


Castles and Palaces

Cottbus Castle and Courthouse


Gerber Cottages
Old Powerhouse



Sports and fitness


There is a Saturday market in Oberkirchplatz from 7AM until about midday. You can buy delicacies from the nearby Spreewald, sold in person by the producer. A slimmed-down version of the market takes place on Wednesdays in front of the city hall and on Thursdays in the Sprem (shopping area near the Old Market). Elsewhere, the Blechen-Carre is a large shopping centre containing the usual retail chains to be found across Germany.

Meanwhile, dedicated shopaholics should explore the old town, where there are many small shops and specialist boutiques.









Go next

The city of Cottbus is surrounded by a dense network of cycle paths that can quickly take you deep into attractive countryside. For the adventurous, a selection of bicycle tour routes of varying distances can be found in a dedicated German Wikivoyage article.

Only a few kilometers north of the city is the Spreeaue, a 400 acre area along the course of the Spree river has been reclaimed as a nature reserve. Meadows and traditional villages invite you to explore on foot or by bike.

Burg (Spreewald), the southern gateway to the Spreewald, lies about 15 km northwest of Cottbus. The route there runs through the low-lying, rural Spreewald foothills. The Spreewald is very well developed for tourism and offers an ideal starting point for boat, paddle and bike rides. Lübben and Lübbenau are two other major points of departure to visit the Spreewald area.

Klinger Lake lies about 15 km east of Cottbus, on the edge of a former open-cast lignite mine. The lake is still being filled and will be a major feature in the future Lower Lusatia Lake District. Many former lignite mines have fallen victim to changing economic circumstances, and are now gradually being repurposed. The lake's bizarre landscape is reminiscent of the lunar surface and has a certain gruff charm. Another minor attraction is the former Klinger Raubritter gate.

About 40 km north-eastern in the former hat-making town of Guben you can find the Plastinarium, the demonstration workshop of the internationally renowned/notorious "Body Worlds" exhibitor, Gunther von Hagen. Mon-Sun: 10AM - 6PM (last entrance 4PM), admission starting from €12 per person, concessions €8. Uferstraße, 03172 Guben, Tel: +49 3561 54 74 860.

About 20 km west of Cottbus in Slawenburg Raddusch you can find a mock castle built as part of an international building exhibition. The model houses a museum and reflects castles of 1000 years ago built by the then Lusizi (ancestors of today's Sorbian/Wendish minority). Opening times from April to October 10AM to 6PM, November to March 10AM to 4PM. A15 exit Vetscha.

Further afield lie the fascinating cities of Dresden, Leipzig and Berlin.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, March 28, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.