The town is built partly on an island in the Havel, and partly on hills on the right bank of the river, on one of which stands the fine Romanesque cathedral dating from the 12th century.
The chief buildings are the chateau, mainly of the 15th century, of which the massive donjon of the 11th century known as the Tour de Cesar is the oldest portion; and the abbey-church of Notre-Dame, a building in the Romanesque style of architecture, frequently restored.
Giovanni e Paolo, which has six semicircular pediments of varying size crowning the six bays, in the upper order of which are four noble Romanesque windows.
Among the principal buildings are the cathedral (rebuilt in the 16th century), and several other churches, among which the Mariae Kirke with its Romanesque nave is the earliest; a hospital, diocesan college, naval academy, school of design and a theatre.
The Public Library building is Romanesque and elaborately ornamented; the building was presented to the city by James P. Baxter; in the library is the statue, by Benjamin Paul Akers (1825-1861), of the dead pearl-diver, well known from Hawthorne's description in The Marble Faun.
By far the most important building in Magdeburg is the cathedral, dedicated to SS Maurice and Catherine, a handsome and massive structure of the 14th century, exhibiting an interesting blending of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
The church of Our Lady, a late Romanesque building, has two ancient crypts and a 13thcentury choir of exceptional beauty, but the nave suffered severely from a restoration in 1764.
The Rauberturm is a relic of the old castle of the margraves of Moravia; the round castle-chapel, known as the heathen temple (Heiden-Tempel), in the Romanesque style of the 12th century, was at one time considered the most ancient building in Moravia.
Prospero, close by, has a facade of 1504, in which are incorporated six marble lions belonging to the original Romanesque edifice.
The cathedral of St Benigne, originally an abbey church, was built in the latter half of the 13th century on the site of a Romanesque basilica, of which the crypt remains.