Bautzen (pronounced [ˈbaʊ̯t͡sn̩] (listen); Upper Sorbian: Budyšin [ˈbudɨʃin] (listen); until 1868 German: Budissin; Lower Sorbian: Budyšyn [ˈbudɨʃɨn], Czech: Budyšín [ˈbudɪʃiːn], Polish: Budziszyn [buˈd͡ʑiʂɨn]) is a hill-top town in eastern Saxony, Germany, and administrative centre of the eponymous district. It is located on the Spree River. As of 2017, its population is 39,429. Asteroid 11580 Bautzen is named in honour of the city.


Historical centre of the town

Coat of arms
Location of Bautzen within Bautzen district
Coordinates: 51°10′53″N 14°25′27″E
  MayorAlexander Ahrens (SPD)
  Total66.62 km2 (25.72 sq mi)
204 m (669 ft)
  Density590/km2 (1,500/sq mi)
Time zoneCET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes
Dialling codes03591
Vehicle registrationBZ, BIW, HY, KM

Bautzen is often regarded as the unofficial, but historical capital of Upper Lusatia, and it is the most important cultural centre of the Sorbs, a Slavic people.

Its hilltop position and multiple towers are often compared to some of the hilltop towns of Tuscany.

It has a long association with mustard (Bautznersenf) and is one of the few places in the world to boast a mustard museum.


Geographical situation

The town on the River Spree is situated about 50 km (31 mi) east of Dresden between the Lusatian highland and the lowlands in the north, amidst the region of Upper Lusatia. To the north stretches the Bautzen Reservoir, which was flooded in 1974. This is the former location of the villages of Malsitz (Małšecy) and Nimschütz (Hněwsecy).

Expansion of the urban area

The old part of Bautzen is located on the plateau above the Spree, whose top is marked by the Ortenburg (de) castle. It is bordered by the city walls. The later-built more recent quarters in the east were enclosed by the city ramparts. After their removal, the city expanded further east and to the left bank of the river. However, there has only been a small urban area west of the Spree until today. In the 1970s, the development areas of "Gesundbrunnen" and "Allendeviertel" were erected. After 1990, several neighbouring villages were incorporated.

Bordering municipalities

The city is bordered by Radibor, Großdubrau and Malschwitz in the North, Kubschütz in the East, Großpostwitz, Obergurig and Doberschau-Gaußig in the South, as well as Göda in the West. All of these belong to the Bautzen district.


The 15 city districts are:

Name Population
(as of 1 January 2009)
German Upper Sorbian English translation
InnenstadtNutřkowne městoCity centre5,278
SüdvorstadtJužne PředměstoSouthern outskirts1,738
WestvorstadtZapadne PředměstoWestern outskirts3,505
GesundbrunnenStrowotna studnja8,178
NordostringSewjerowuchodny WobkruhNorth-eastern ring10,727
OstvorstadtWuchodne PředměstoEastern outskirts6,360
OberkainaHornja Kina832
NiederkainaDelnja Kina522
KleinwelkaMały Wjelkow1,314
Salzenforst-BolbritzSłona Boršć-Bolborcy839


Historical affiliations
Duchy of Poland 1002-1025

Kingdom of Poland 1025–1032
Margraviate of Meissen 1032-1253
Margraviate of Brandenburg 1253-1319
 Kingdom of Bohemia 1319-1469
Kingdom of Hungary 1469-1490
 Kingdom of Bohemia 1490-1635
 Electorate of Saxony 1635-1807
 Kingdom of Saxony 1806-1871
 German Empire 1871-1918
 Weimar Republic 1918-1933
 Nazi Germany 1933-1945
 Allied-occupied Germany 1945-1949
 East Germany 1949–1990

 Germany 1990–present

In the 3rd century AD an eastern Germanic settlement existed here, but excavations have proved that the region was already inhabited as early as the late Stone Age. Sorbs arrived in the area during the Migration period in the 6h century AD.

The first written evidence of the existence of the city was in 1002. In 1018 the Peace of Bautzen was signed between the German king Henry II and the future King of Poland Bolesław I the Brave. The treaty left Bautzen (Budziszyn in modern Polish) under Polish rule. In 1032 the city passed to the Holy Roman Empire, in 1319 to Czech Crown lands and in 1635 to Saxony.

During the Middle Ages it was a member of the Six Cities' Alliance of the Upper Lusatian cities of Görlitz, Zittau, Löbau, Kamenz, Lauban and Bautzen.

It was the site of one of the battlefields of the Napoleonic War Battle of Bautzen in 1813.

In 1839 the Sorbian student organization Societas Slavica Budissenensis was founded in the city. The Sorbian House (Upper Sorbian: Serbski Dom), a Sorbian cultural centre, was opened in the city in 1904.

During World War II and the Nazi era, there was a subcamp of the Groß-Rosen concentration camp in Bautzen. Ernst Thälmann was imprisoned there before being deported to Buchenwald. Between 21 April and 30 April 1945, the Battle of Bautzen was fought.

Bautzen was infamous throughout East Germany for its two penitentiaries. "Bautzen I" was used as an official prison, soon to be nicknamed Gelbes Elend ("Yellow Misery") due to its outer colour, whereas the more secretive "Bautzen II" was used as a prison for political prisoners, dissidents and prisoners of conscience. Bautzen I is still actively used as a criminal prison. Bautzen II has served as an open memorial since 1993. It is accessible to the public at no charge, the entire premises being largely open.

In 2002 the city commemorated its 1000th birthday.

Population development

(as of December 31 unless otherwise stated)

  • 1849 – 10,518
  • 1868 – 12,623[2]
  • 1875 – 14,709
  • 1890 – 21,516
  • 1933 – 41,951
  • 1950 – 41,592 (as of August 31)
  • 1960 – 41,613
  • 1984 – 51,208
  • 1995 – 44,763
  • 2000 – 43,353
  • 2005 – 42,150
  • 2010 – 40,573
  • 2015 – 40,501


  • Konrad Johannes Kaeubler, Lord Mayor (1890-1918)
  • Gottfried Franz Hermann Niedner, (1872-1945), Lord Mayor 1918-1933
  • Christian Schramm (born 1952), (CDU), (Lord)Mayor 1990–2015
  • Alexander Ahrens (born 1966), (independent), Lord Mayor since 2015

Main sights

Bautzen has a very compact and well-preserved medieval town centre with numerous churches and towers and a city wall on the steep embankment to the river Spree, with one of the oldest preserved waterworks in central Europe (built 1558).

Sites of interest include:

  • The Reichenturm, one of the steepest leaning and still passable towers north of the Alps
  • Ortenburg Castle
  • The Old Waterworks, an architectural monument and museum
  • Saint Peter's Cathedral, Eastern Germany's only historic interdenominational church edifice
  • Hexenhaus (Witch's House), oldest preserved residential building (built in 1604)

There are four museums including the Stadtmuseum Bautzen ("Bautzen city Museum") and the Sorbisches Museum ("Sorbian Museum", Sorbian: Serbski muzej).

Sorbian Institutions

Bautzen is the seat of several institutions of the cultural self-administration of the Sorbian people:

  • Foundation for the Sorbian People (Stiftung für das sorbische Volk, Załožba za serbski lud)
  • Domowina (poet. Sorbic for „Homeland“, actually: Zwjazk Łužiskich Serbow z. t., Bund Lausitzer Sorben e. V.) - the umbrella organisation of Sorbian cultural associations and institutions
  • Sorbic Language Radio (Serbski rozhłós) [3]
  • Sorbian National Ensemble and the German Sorbian People's Theater (Němsko-serbske ludowe dźiwadło)
  • Bautzen Sorbian Boarding School

Notable citizens of the town

International relations

Bautzen is twinned with:[4]


  1. "Bevölkerung des Freistaates Sachsen jeweils am Monatsende ausgewählter Berichtsmonate nach Gemeinden" (PDF). Statistisches Landesamt des Freistaates Sachsen (in German). July 2019.
  2. Geschichte der Stadt Bautzen, Richard Reymann, Druck und Verlag: Gebrüder Müller, 1902, S. 720. Die Angaben stammen ursprünglich aus einem Zeitdokument, das am 10. September 1868 in die Turmkugel des Reichenturms gelegt wurde. Demnach waren unter den 12.623 Einwohnern 2579 Wenden. Zudem waren darunter [...] 11.419 Lutheraner, 1153 Katholiken, 29 Reformierte, 5 Angelikaner, 7 Deutschkatholiken, 1 Griechisch-Katholik und 9 Juden.
  4. "Partnerstädte". (in German). Bautzen. Retrieved 2019-11-27.
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