29 April 2012

Bauhaus in Dessau Travel Guide

This page is for those interested in visiting Dessau, one of the places where the Bauhaus movement had their base in the 1930s. It should tell you everything you need to know about making a visit here, even if you don't speak any German at all.

Getting There

Dessau is easy to get to by rail from Berlin. There are direct fast trains (90 minutes) every hour. 
Trains can be caught from the new Hauptbahnhof in the North of the city, and also from S├╝dkreuz just inside the South ring road.
Book tickets at any station, or online (link below). Even if buying in person, it's worth printing out your chosen trains in advance to overcome language problems. A typical journey of leaving Berlin at 9.15am and returning for 5.45pm costs 30 Euro. 
You are advised not to go to Dessau on Monday, as most of the Bauhaus buildings are shut.

Arrival
Dessau only has 2 platforms. To begin with, come out on the town side of the station. There is a big tram stop and gardens here.
You will want to buy a Dessau Card, which gives free travel on trams and buses, as well as discounts into Bauhaus buildings and other attractions. This can be bought at the "Mobilitatszentrale" outside the station, or you can get one in town if this is closed.
Walk into town, following the tram lines past the theatre. There is a map of the route below. When you see a large shopping centre on your left, turn left and the Tourist Office is straight ahead, at Rathaus Zerbster Strasse 2c.
The Dessau Card costs 8 Euro and is valid for 3 days. English is spoken in the Tourist Office but you need to be very clear what you want.
Buy copies of Dessau Town Guide and Bauhaus Buildings in Dessau. Make sure they give you English versions. Also pick up a copy of the Dessau Culture Trail, which has a very clear map with streetnames.
Torten Estate
Since you are already in town, it is worth visiting the Torten Estate first. You can read more about it in your Bauhaus Buildings guide.

Catch Tram 1 from outside McDonalds. The journey takes about 5 minutes. Look for side-streets on the left called Damaschke Strasse or Peterholtz Strasse, either of these stops are suitable places to start your tour. Don't panic about going too far! The stop after Peterholtz Strasse is Tempelhofer Strasse which is the last stop on Tram no. 1, and not too far to walk back.

Both Peterholtzstrasse and Mittelbreite have housing with balcony access.

Damaschkestrasse has a supermarket and apartment block called the Konsum Building. There is an information board about it in front of the shop.

There are three concentric roads, Grossring, Mittelring and Kleinring. Each have different types of Bauhaus homes on them. You can also walk along the back alleys to see the style of gardens.

Two houses are open for visitors:
Mittelring 38 is furnished in the original 1920s style, and is also an information centre about Moses Mendelssohn, a Jewish philosopher. It costs 2 Euro, and there is an information leaflet inside. The curators may not speak English, but are happy to communicate as best as possible.
Kleinring 5 is also in its original state, and is open to the public occasionally. It is also available as accommodation - there's a link below.

The Steel House on Sudstrasse is the information centre for the estate, and has leaflets, books and original designs. There is a tour at 3pm each Sunday afternoon.
Almost next door is the Fieger House, by another Bauhaus architect, which is visually interesting but not open to the public.

It is a short walk back to the tram stop and Tram 1 will take you back to the centre of town.
Employment Office
This is another Walter Gropius building, at August-Bebel-Platz 16, not far from the Tourist Office.
Bauhaus Dessau
Take the tram back to the railway station and go under the subway. Follow Schwabe Strasse (named after the scientist who discovered the periodic nature of sunspots) round to the left onto Bauhaus Strasse. The road takes you under the bridge of the Bauhaus building. Here you will see the famous balconies, and the high windows on each wall.

The entrance is on your left, where you will be able to find books, cards, posters and design objects in the basement shop/cafe, and the admissions desk and tours begin upstairs. Borrow an English audio guide (€5), as the guided tours in German which are quite inaccessible, even for those who know some of the language. Not all of the building is open, and there may be an additional fee for other exhibitions.
Masters Houses
Buy a combined ticket for the Bauhaus and the Masters Houses, only €13, or €8 with a Dessau Card. They are a short walk north up Gropius-allee and then left onto Ebert-allee.
Each house has 2 entrances, one for each of the Masters who lived there. Ring the bell and show your ticket to the attendant. They may be very chatty or leave you to wander.
Photography is not allowed, but you may get away with not using a flash.
Some of the houses have great staircases, others have very Modernist kitchens. Explore everywhere, even the basements!
Kornhaus
Designed and built by Carl Fieger in 1930, this is a bar and restaurant on the south bank of the Elbe, another short walk from the Masters Houses. From here you can get back to the station in about 15 minutes.

Other Attractions
Dessau is worth a stay, as there are plenty of other attractions in town and in the surrounding area.
Of particular note are three palaces and four churches, all listed in the Culture Trail.
There are also two cemeteries, one Jewish, the oldest burial place in the town.
Weblinks
German Railways www.bahn.com
Tram timetables and routes http://www.dessauer-nahverkehr.de/tram.html

Maps

A map from the station to the Tourist Office:



A map of the Bauhaus locations: