Internationally, Dessau is best known for the Bauhaus architectural school located here from 1925 until closed down by the Nazis in 1932. The town still has several Bauhaus structures – two are UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites.
In addition, the area is famous for the largest English-style landscape gardens on the European continent. They were created in the late 18th century and somehow managed to survive to the present day. (Six are UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites.)
Sightseeing in Dessau: Bauhaus
The Bauhaus school of design moved to Dessau in 1925 after its ideas were rejected by the conservative town council of Weimar. For seven years, members of the school, such as Walter Gropius and Lyonel Feininger, had the opportunity to put their ideas of form following function into practice before the Nazis forced them out of Dessau in 1932. Some members led by Mies van der Rohe briefly set up in Berlin but were soon forced to close their studios permanently. Many members found fame and much more acceptance abroad.
The best-known building is the Walther Gropius-designed Bauhaus Dessau, Gropiusallee 38 , which was erected in 1925-26 as head office for the school. It is a synthesis of glass, steel, and concrete and a prime example of the philosophy of the Bauhaus school, having served as studios, workshop, school, and a stage.
About five minutes walk away are the Meisterhäuser (Masters’ Houses), Ebertallee 69/71, a community of buildings that served as housing and studios for the masters of the school. After the Nazis forced the masters out, the buildings were sold to the Junkers factory on condition that the exteriors be sufficiently altered to remove the alien building from from the cityscape.
Three semi-detached buildings survived and are in excellent condition. The Feininger House currently houses a museum for the Dessau-born composer Kurt Weill. In this house, 40 different colors were used to paint the walls, ceilings, etc. The Kandinsky/Klee House was restored in 2000. During the process, it was found that the artists used 170 different colors to color their living environment. The house has extensive documentation and information on the lives of the two artists. The Meisterhaus Muche/Schlemmer was only restored in 2002.
Several other Bauhaus buildings survived in Dessau. The largest concentration is in Gropius-Siedlung Dessau-Törten, south of Dessau. The buildings here can only be seen on a guided tour.
The historic Arbeitsamt (Employment Office), August-Bebel-Platz 16, is currently used by the Department of Traffic. It has appropriately impossible bureaucratic opening hours.
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