It would be a fair assumption that the Coswig Castle in 1187 put the town of Coswig (Anhalt) on the map. And that very well may be right, except that it was Castle Cossewiz back then.
Despite having medieval origins, the castle is a classic example of Renaissance and French (yeah, I realize we’re in Germany) Baroque architecture. From the late 19th century to the end of the 2nd World War the castle was used as a prison.
During that particular war the castle housed three times as many prisoners as intended (around 900 opposed to the 300 it could hold) and many were used as forced labor.
As old as the castle is, it’s the Protestant Church of St. Nikolai that holds the title of the town’s oldest building. And its Town Hall is another stunning beauty.
Of course, you don’t just want to see the outside of Coswig’s buildings. Its Local History Museum has a large collection of pottery, ceramics, crafts, and other exhibits on daily life. There’s also an exhibit on Coswig’s archaeological finds from its prehistoric days.
OK, enough with the old stuff… let’s get out into the fresh air. Coswig has a marina and private boat dock for those of you looking to get out sailing on the Elbe River. Take the Elbfähre Coswig for a trip to the other side.
Also while you’re out and about you’ll notice all the memorials around town. One is dedicated to fallen German soldiers, another to fallen Soviet soldiers. There’s a memorial wall at the Domstraße to the town’s Jewish community, and a plaque to Hermann Cohen, a Jewish philosopher. And on Wittenberger Straße you’ll see a memorial to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Memorials and castles aside, it’s the Treidelfest in Mai/June that you’ll want to be here for. Watch as a 5 ton barge is pulled with folks dressed in period costume, just like they wore centuries ago.
Yeah, the castle might have put Coswig on the map; but its history and people have kept it alive and kicking. Just don’t go confusing it with the larger Coswig in Saxony, otherwise you might have its residents throw you off that ceremonial barge. ;-)