Dessau is a town in Germany on the junction of the rivers Mulde and Elbe, in the Bundesland (Federal State) of Saxon-Anhalt . Population: 77,557 (December 2004).
Dessau was first mentioned in 1213. It became an important centre in 1570, when the principality of Anhalt was founded. Dessau became the capital of this state within the Holy Roman Empire. Anhalt was dissolved in 1603, but Dessau remained a prospering town, and became the capital of the mini state of Anhalt-Dessau. When Anhalt was reunified in 1863, Dessau became the capital again and remained so until 1918.
Dessau is famous for its college of architecture Bauhaus. It moved here in 1926 after it had been forced to close in Weimar. Many famous artists were lecturers in Dessau in the following years, among them Walter Gropius, Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. In 1932 the Nazis forced the closure of the Bauhaus. (It was reopened in 1986.)
Due to an armaments factory of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) the city was almost completely destroyed by Allied air raids in World War II. Afterwards it was rebuilt with typical GDR concrete slab architecture and became a major industrial centre of East Germany.
After the German reunification in 1990 many historic buildings have been restored.
The composer Kurt Weill was born in Dessau. There is an annual Kurt Weill Festival held in Dessau (since 1993).
There are several examples of Bauhaus architecture in Dessau, some of them included in the UNESCO World Heritage. The Bauhaus College itself was constructed after drafts by Walter Gropius.
Another World Heritage Site is the Dessau-Wörlitzer Gartenreich ("Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm"), a huge garden complex commissioned by prince Leopold III of Anhalt-Dessau about 1750. It is strongly influenced by traditional English gardening. Being 25 km in width it is the largest garden of this type in continental Europe. The gardens are bounded by the Elbe river in the north.