Magdeburg: A green city with a rich history

Magdeburg is the green capital of Saxony-Anhalt. The magnificent Magdeburg Cathedral towers over the city on the Elbe River, 170 km west of Berlin. Magdeburg is attractive to many students, and not only because of its familiar atmosphere and affordable rental prices.

by Dominik Brüggemann

Magdeburg Cathedral © Ajepbah/wikicommons
Magdeburg Cathedral . © Ajepbah/wikicommons

Facts & Figures

Monthly rent:
289 €
Meet your friends at the Hasselbachplatz and have a snack from "RIFF"!

Welcome to Magdeburg

Magdeburg has been shaped by an eventful history, the traces of which are noticeable even today. Otto I, the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, made Magdeburg his imperial seat in 968 AD and brought money and fame to the city. Its membership in the “Hanseatic League” – a powerful trading confederation in the Middle Ages – also made the city and its inhabitants wealthy.

Many luxurious villas and ornate buildings still exist today. However, large parts of the city were utterly destroyed during World War II and were later rebuilt. Nowadays the city has a more diversified feel with historic streets and quarters next to more recently constructed modern buildings.

Grüne Zitadelle © Brüggemann/DAAD
Grüne Zitadelle . © Brüggemann/DAAD

Magdeburg is home to two universities and numerous research institutes. The economy is significantly dominated by the service-providing sector. It also benefits from its proximity to the large business centres of Berlin and Leipzig.

One of Magdeburg’s impressive landmarks is the “Green Citadel of Magdeburg”. You can’t help but notice the pink-coloured building with its unusual architectural details – golden orbs, crooked walls and large archways. The Green Citadel was designed by the Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Two brightly designed courtyards are located within. The name of this extraordinary building refers to the rooftop which is covered with grass.

Magdeburg Cathedral at Elbe River © Brüggemann/DAAD
Magdeburg Cathedral at Elbe River . © Brüggemann/DAAD

The Magdeburg Cathedral is a sight worth seeing. It is the official symbol of the city and dates back to the year 1207. However, it took 300 years until the towers were finally completed. If you’re in Magdeburg, you simply have to visit this impressive church. The “Unser Lieben Frauen Monastery” is also a prominent attraction in Magdeburg. The complex is almost 1,000 years old and is used as an art museum and concert hall today.

Living in Magdeburg

“Breiter Weg” is the busiest part of town during the day. The street forms the central axis of the city and connects Hasselbachplatz and Universitätsplatz. Both plazas are especially popular and very busy. Numerous shops, shopping centres, doctor’s offices and the Theater Magdeburg are all located on “Breiter Weg”.

Hasselbachplatz © Brüggemann/DAAD
Hasselbachplatz . © Brüggemann/DAAD

Large events and festivals are held in Magdeburg on a regular basis. The largest festival, the “Europafest Magdeburg”, takes place every year at Pentecost and features music and concerts at venues throughout the city for the whole family. Are you a fan of jazz or blues? Then you’re sure to see a famous artist live on stage at the “New Orleans Jazz Festival” which takes place in June. The Christmas market in Magdeburg is something you should definitely visit. The vendors set up their wooden stands every December on the Alter Markt and decorate them in Christmas colours and lights. There you can try a “Glühwein” – a spiced mulled wine – and many other wintertime treats.

Magdeburg also has an exciting nightlife. You’ll find lots of students at the clubs, pubs and bars in the streets around the Hasselbachplatz. You can get good coffee and free WLAN access at the Espresso Kartell on Otto-von-Guericke-Strasse. If you’re in the mood for a relaxed evening with music, check out the Stern Bar on Sternstrasse. You can enjoy alcoholic and virgin cocktails at Liebig on Liebigstraße.

My tip

Many students meet at the pubs around Hasselbachplatz. Personally I like the RIFF on Sternstrasse. Simply furnished, small meals, inexpensive drinks and not at all snobbish.

If you need to get out into nature, there are numerous parks and gardens in and around Magdeburg. The Elbauenpark, Herrenkrug Park and Stadtpark Rotehorn are perfect for jogging or just lying out in the sun. There are also many lakes around Magdeburg where you can go swimming in the summertime. The Barleber Lake is situated outside Magdeburg to the north, is ten metres deep at places and measures 4.2 km in circumference. There are sandy beaches all around the lake and one section is monitored by lifeguards. You can easily get to the lake by tram.

Interview with Émilie from France

Émilie Le Noay from France studied “Intercultural Management” in Magdeburg for one semester. She is 29 years old and now lives in Berlin.

Picture of Émilie from France © Émilie Le Noay
Émilie from France . © Émilie Le Noay

Why did you decide to study in Magdeburg?

I started my master’s in “Intercultural Management” at the Université Bretagne Sud in Lorient and had to meet various requirements including a semester in Germany. My university has a partnership with the Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences, so that’s where I went.

How did you prepare for your stay in Germany?

I had visited Germany several times before coming to Magdeburg. Before the semester at the Magdeburg-Stendal University began, I completed a three-month internship in Berlin. I was able to look for a flat-share in Magdeburg from Berlin.

What should students take care of before arriving in Germany?

I didn’t have to take care of anything in particular. After all, we live in the European Union which makes everything less complicated. What’s more, the universities – both in France and Magdeburg – gave us lots of help.

Town hall © Brüggemann/DAAD
Town hall . © Brüggemann/DAAD

How did you find your flat-share? Do you have any advice for others looking for accommodation?

There are lots of good sites on the web, such as It was no problem at all. There are many offers out there for very beautiful and affordable rooms!

What do you especially like about Magdeburg? What’s your favourite place in Magdeburg and why?

Magdeburg is a relatively green city. Since I was there in the summer, I was always very happy to study in the park or at the riverside on the Elbe.

Why is Magdeburg a good place to study?

I was happy to find that Magdeburg was not as impersonal as a city with millions of people. The main advantage was that I was able to meet lots of people very quickly. The city is small enough so that we always knew where we’d see each other again. Many young people frequently end up at the same parties.

Back to top