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Lausitz: “The Baltic Sea near Cottbus will be Germany’s largest heat pump”

AFrom a gigantic concrete pipe, known as the intake structure, masses of water have been pouring day and night without interruption for five years. By the year 2030, the filling of the gigantic former lignite opencast mine with 256 million cubic meters will be completed – and Germany will have a new body of water; it should then be the largest of the artificially created ones.

This is already indicated by the name: Cottbuser Ostsee. It is a pun on the sea of ​​the same name and the eastern location of the flooded lake. There is no doubt that one day it will become a tourist attraction.

As recently as 2015, visitors stared at a 12 square mile tattered wasteland with much flung earth and a few trees whose flying seeds couldn’t figure out that this was the wrong place to land. In the meantime, the saplings are covered by water far above the tips.

It comes from the Spree; the river water is filtered. A clean water, perfect for water sports enthusiasts and anglers. And because the Spree is lined with developed paths on both sides of the river, cyclists and hikers also get their money’s worth. You will experience a gentle landscape in which unspoiled nature, allotment gardens and Sorbian villages alternate.

View from the observation tower on the growing Baltic Sea

Tourists get a good overview from the 34 meter high Merzdorf observation tower; There are 173 steps to climb, at the top there is an unobstructed all-round view of the lake, which gets bigger every day. On the other side of the lake are the towers of the Jänschwalde lignite-fired power plant, from where clouds of steam drifted over Cottbus and the surrounding area for 34 years. Monuments to the masses of lignite that were dug out of nature here.

At that time, tens of thousands of coal miners toiled away in Lusatia to supply the SED state with electricity; after all, two thirds of the energy requirements of the GDR were covered with lignite from the Cottbus area. Today nothing can be seen of the deeply hollowed-out layers of earth. Nature has mercifully overgrown everything.

Politically, on the other hand, Cottbus still has a hard time to bear from the past, because the AfD is trying to attract the old miners’ clientele that still dreams of the past and has little sense for a regenerative future according to the ideas of the traffic light coalition in Berlin.

In 2022, for example, there was even a stalemate between the democratic parties and the right-wing populist AfD in the mayoral election; the first ballot remained open, only in the second ballot did common sense prevail – and the AfD was trumped. A great fortune also for the Baltic Sea planning, because most of the citizens of Cottbus are looking forward to this unusual body of water.

Cottbus became an attractive city

Cottbus would like to become a city of future technologies. After all, the municipality has already received 50 million euros in funding from EU funds. Cottbus is being turned inside out, the future means openness and the joy of visitors. Even the nostalgic miners’ families are now playing along – their children anyway, they advocate the most modern technology for their rising city. 30,000 Cottbus residents left the city after reunification in 1989, but many have returned and the population is now around 100,000 again.

In the years after the fall of the wall, many experts were brought to the city, they looked around, looked into the giant hole – and left the city disillusioned. Among them was Christin Hoffmann, who was born in Cottbus and grew up under socialism. As a young woman, she wanted to escape the sickening air, according to the motto: never again Cottbus. But things turned out differently, years later the environmental economist, who had a doctorate, moved back with her husband to the bosom of the family; a decision she hasn’t regretted, she says, because Cottbus has changed completely: “It’s just great here.”

Christin Hoffmann is not the only scientist who feels drawn to the restored landscape and the Baltic Sea. Many students and prospective doctors come from far away, they founded the Lausitz Science Park at the University of Cottbus. They research green hydrogen technologies, energy storage, sustainable circular economy and climate-neutral transport.

A photovoltaic system floating on the lake is planned, which will supply solar power for Cottbus and the surrounding area. The flooded lignite opencast mine will be around 2.70 meters deep in the middle of the lake, and it will only be deeper at the edges. The reason for the unusual topography: Shallow water heats up faster – heat that can be used to generate electricity. The scientists are so convinced of their idea that they are carried away by the statement that the Baltic Sea will one day be Germany’s largest heat pump.

The lake as a tourist attraction

The planning for the tourist use of the lake is also fascinating. A harbor quarter with a city harbor is planned, the so-called Seevorstadt with houses for 4000 residents. The hotel industry is gearing up, gastronomy is jostling for the best places and the housing industry is attracting crowds of brokers.

The Baltic Sea has already been surrounded by a 26-kilometre circular route, and a sea axis for hikers, motorists and cyclists is also planned; This part will be finished in 2026. Four years later, the Baltic Sea is to be released for swimming and diving.

Because by 2030, according to the plan, the Baltic Sea will be completely full. Only canoes and electric boats should then be allowed on the water. It is now also clear that there will be an ICE connection by 2030; in 40 minutes you will get from Berlin or Dresden to Cottbus.

When hiking, the change in the region becomes apparent

But not only the industrial wasteland around Cottbus, but also the city itself, in which prefabricated buildings dominate after the bombing of the Second World War, is gradually being upgraded. The brawny Spremberger Turm, the tallest in Lausitz-City, is a 13th-century fortified tower. “The fat one”, as the people of Cottbus call him, offers a panoramic view of renovated houses with loft apartments from the roof tower, which are popular with locals and newcomers.

The people of Cottbus prefer to sit in front of the venerable “Stuben” on the Altmarkt and chat, also about the changes in their city. All around is an impressive ensemble of baroque town houses and classicist eaves houses from the 18th century. This is also where the lion pharmacy, opened in 1568, is Goethe’s poison chamber. He visited her on his travels to try various drugs and sexual enhancers.

Whether Goethe also tasted the traditional Cottbus Baumkuchen cannot be confirmed in the “Groch & Erben” manufactory. It is conceivable, because Maria Groch was a smart and distinctive founder when she got the business going in 1819, and thus entirely to the poet’s taste.

It is such quirks that the city guide, dressed as a stagecoach man, likes to tell in front of the remains of the city wall and the medieval monasteries. Cottbus was founded in a document in 1156, so there are quite a few anecdotes. To keep the audience’s attention awake, the stagecoach man blows his trumpet loudly from time to time.

Meanwhile, the waters of the Spree are tirelessly flooding the Baltic Sea. Visitors can experience how the country and the city have already changed on a ten-kilometer circular hiking trail; In parts it leads directly along the lake and past the Spreewehrmühle back to the city center.

There is probably no other city in this country that is changing so radically for the better. Dresden, Leipzig and Rostock quickly managed to get promoted again, the Cottbus team had to wait a long time. But her city is now all the more beautiful.

Tips and information:

Getting there: By train from Berlin and Dresden in one and a half to two hours to Cottbus. The Baltic Sea can be reached by car via the B 169 in the direction of Peitz, then follow the signs to the Merzdorf observation tower. Parking and picnic areas are available.

Accommodation: The best hotel in Cottbus is the “Lindner Congress Hotel Cottbus”, double rooms from 150 euros,; “Altstadthotel Am Theater”, double room from 110 euros, centrally located,; “Hotel Zum Postkutscher”, venerable house with a popular restaurant, double rooms from 80 euros,

Information: Cottbus Tourist Office,

Tip: On the outskirts of Cottbus is the ingeniously laid out Branitzer Park, designed by the legendary landscape architect Prince Pückler (

Participation in the trip was supported by the Lindner Hotel and the Cottbus Tourist Office. You can find our standards of transparency and journalistic independence at

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