Brandenburg (Brandenburg an der Havel)

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Attempt to reconstruct the Brandenburg as a Slavic castle wall around 1100

Attempt to reconstruct the Brandenburg as a Slavic castle wall around 1100

Alternative name (s): Brennaburg, Brendanburg
Creation time : 8-12 century
Castle type : Niederungsburg
Conservation status: no
Standing position : Heveller princes
Construction: Wood-earth construction
Place: Brandenburg on the Havel
Geographical location 52 ° 24 '54 "  N , 12 ° 34' 0.1"  E Coordinates: 52 ° 24 '54 "  N , 12 ° 34' 0.1"  E
Brandenburg (Brandenburg)

The Brandenburg (also Brennaburg and Brendanburg ) was a Slavic low castle from the 8th to 12th centuries on a Havel island in today's city of Brandenburg . In their place are now the Church of St. Petri and the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul .


First Slavic settlements and castles

A small Slavic settlement emerged on the Havel Island for the first time around 600. Archaeological finds and house shapes indicate a Bohemian origin. This settlement was soon abandoned and turned into farmland. Then a new settlement of immigrants from east of the Neisse was built . They built a first castle with fortifications around 700. A bailey was built next to it. The fortifications and moats have been reinforced several times since the 9th century.

German conquest 928/29

In the harsh winter of 928/929 the castle was conquered by Henry I , King of Eastern Franconia , through starvation and attack over the frozen moat. The castle population remained Slavic during this period. In 940 the Slavic prince's son Tugumir returned to the castle from German captivity and established a rule under German tributary sovereignty.

Foundation of the Diocese of Brandenburg

In 948 the seat of the new diocese of Brandenburg was established in the north-eastern outer bailey. The archaeological findings show the abandonment of the Slavic settlement in this area and the creation of a large leveled area. Two body graves were found near which the cathedral could have been.

Another Slavic castle

After the Slav uprising of 983 , the fortifications were removed, the trenches were filled and a much larger area of ​​about 4 hectares was created and settled. From about 1128 Prince Pribislaw ruled the castle, who had meanwhile been crowned a king.

Rule of Albrecht and Jaczo

In 1150, after his death, the Margrave of the North Mark Albrecht the Bear took over the castle and occupied it with German and Slavic castle men. Some time later (1153/1157?) It was taken by the Sprewan prince Jaczo , a relative of Pribislav.

German conquest 1157

On June 11, 1157 a German army with Margrave Albrecht, Archbishop Wichmann of Magdeburg and other counts and soldiers recaptured Brandenburg Castle after a bloody battle. This was the beginning of a permanent German rule in the Mark Brandenburg.

The castle was divided again, the diocese of Brandenburg received the north-eastern half (with slightly shifted borders compared to 948) and built the cathedral and the canon houses and other buildings there. The cathedral chapter moved from the old town near St. Gotthardt in 1161, the cathedral was consecrated in 1165. The southern half was probably first given to the burgrave Siegfried, as the king's representative. It is unlikely that Margrave Albrecht also used part of the southern castle. The southern part was probably taken over by the Ascanian margraves in the late 12th century. However, they built a margravial court on the southern edge of the Neustadt Brandenburg , on the site of the later Dominican monastery of St. Pauli .

The Brandenburg bishops later moved their residence to the nearby Pritzerbe and then to Ziesar Castle . The canons of the cathedral chapter stayed on the old castle grounds.


The oldest settlements and castles were located on a small area of ​​about 0.5 hectare around the later Petrikirche . To the northeast was a suburb ( suburbium ) about 1.3 hectares in size. The seat of the Diocese of Brandenburg was located there from 948 to 983.

In the 10th century, a much larger castle complex of around four hectares with a length of about 240 meters × 340 meters was created. This was a palisade-reinforced ring wall with a main house made of wood in the middle.

This castle area was redistributed after 1157, the northeast part was again given to the diocese of Brandenburg. The Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul was built over the old, filled-in ramparts of the castle. The resulting discontinuity of the soil layers contributes significantly to the static instability of the dome.

One of the last relics of the old castle complex is possibly the St. Petri Chapel , whose fieldstone base of the west gable, together with the base of the westwork of the St. Gotthardt Church, represent the oldest masonry artifacts in Germany east of the Elbe . According to unsecured information, the Petri Chapel is also the burial place of Prince Pribislaw-Heinrichs and possibly also of his wife Petrissa. Although the St. Petri chapel is located on the documented site of the castle, it is not certain whether it is the original castle chapel or whether it was put down and rebuilt with the original material slightly moved. The princely grave has not yet been proven.


  • Klaus Grebe: The Brandenburg 1000 years ago. Brandenburg State Museum for Prehistory and Early History, 1991
  • Klaus Grebe: Excavations in the Brandenburg Cathedral and its surroundings . In: Florian Fiedler (arrangement): Brandenburg Cathedral. (= ICOMOS booklets of the German National Committee 25) . 1998. pp. 11-19. (PDF)

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