Cottbus is a town at the centre of the Sorbian (Wendish) minority Slavic culture living in the Spreewald area of Germany. The Sorb name for Cottbus is Chóśebuz, and it is interesting seeing all the bi-lingual street signs; a bit like wandering around Merthyr Tydfil (aka Merthyr Tudful). And like Merthyr, Cottbus has a feeling of having a long rich, distinct history set against declining industry and yet with a strong urge for urban and technological renewal. Unlike the Welsh though, the Sorbs suffered from brutal 'Germanification' by the Nazis (although if you look back at Welsh history, the English were also long determined to Anglicise the unruly bunch of strange-speaking folk on the other side of Offa's Dyke).
We soon got to realise that 'droga' must mean 'Straße' in Sorbian:
Cottbus has many grand, attractive nineteenth century buildings:
Cottbus has its fair share of DDR-style Plattenbau too (hi guys! Having a crafty fag there?):
These high-rise apartment blocks must have been state-of-the-art housing developments in the Soviet era, and they now stand adjacent to the most modern of buildings in the form of the Cottbus University Library, an incredible amoeba-like structure with no immediately apparent front, back or even entrance. How the poor students find their way in after Fresher's Week I can't imagine:
At last! The entrance is here guys! (but it is closed for the Easter weekend):
Cottbus' modern art sculptures, which are liberally scattered around the city, are less successful. OK, they are down-right kitsch, crass, and lacking in any artisitic merit. But they do succeed in keeping ex-pat Americans amused (this is Elvis impersonator impersonator - no I didn't get that wrong - Craig):
We sought liquid refreshment in a Gaststätte which didn't seem to have changed since East German times. Unfortunately, I don't think the beer barrel had been changed since then either. No matter; we continued on to the old Town square where the Baroque buildings and food was much more congenial:
A particularly quaint looking building on the town square is the sixteenth century Löwen-Apotheke (Lion's pharmacy). Apparently it houses a pharmaceutical museum and displays of historical interiors, but today it was closed (it being Good Friday):
Suitably refreshed, we went in search of the Branitzer Park. This took a lot longer than expected, despite some of us going up the Spremberger Turm to get the lie of the land (note another example of unfathomable modern street sculpture in the foreground):
Our journey to the park wasn't helped by the buses not running on a public holiday, but when we finally arrived it was well worth it. The light was failing, but at last you can find out why the title of this blog entry refers to pyramids. First to attract our curiosity was the Land Pyramid:
Here are buried the architect of the park, the eccentric and well-travelled Hermann Ludwig Heinrich Fürst von Pückler-Muskau, and his wife and long-time companion Lucie. There is a memorial cross to them on an island nearer the shore, and the whole Romantic scene is like something painted by Caspar David Friedrich:
You could devote a whole day to exploring Branitzer Park, with its sandy lake shores, woodland walks, miniature railway (which we rode to get back to the tram-stop to return to the Bahnhof), river, Schloss and gardens and Pückler museum, and football ground of FC Energie Cottbus if that's your thing. Sadly time (and the needs of a hungry husky dog back in Berlin) didn't allow for further exploration; something to save for another Brandenburg excursion.