Cottbus is the second largest city in Brandenburg, second to the provincial capital Potsdam. It is located relatively near to the cities Dresden and Berlin as well as the Polish border.
Cottbus is also known as the center of lower Lusatia, a region were Slawic tribes settled in the 7th century. Even today, the Wends or Sorbes are living in that area as an acknowledged national and language minority. Attentive visitors of the city will notice the bilingual street signs and announcements. Lower Sorbic is a second official language in Cottbus and is also taught in local schools.
Cottbus was first mentioned in records in 1156. Its fundamental accelerated growth started with the industrialization. Many trades were established and larger enterprises such as the textile industry developed. In 1957, Cottbus was the most important coal and energy supplier of East Germany. Lignite mining and the coal power stations are still the largest employer of the region.
Cottbus has a population of 100.000. The city is an economic center of the service industry, science and administration. Important tourist attractions are the historical city center, the Sorbic Quarter, the large remains of the city wall and the old market which is surrounded by baroque town houses. From the observation deck of the Spremberg tower one has a great overview of the city.
A unique attraction is the Cottbus post coachman. This figure originated from a publicity idea some 150 years ago where it was printed on a post card together with the well-known German tongue-twister „The Cottbus post coachman is cleaning the Cottbus post coach letter box“. Today, he is the touristic advertising figure of Cottbus and also personified by the officiating city guide.
Cottbus has numerous cultural attractions and sights. The National Theatre Foundation Cottbus was established in 1908 in a well preserved art nouveau building. The cinema „Weltspiegel“, built in 1911, is the second oldest still running movie theater of Germany. Park Branitz is the most significant landscape park in Cottbus. It was designed by prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau. In the park center the retirement palace of the prince is located. It is now a museum showing the historical rooms and antique furniture. The landmark attraction of the park are the two pyramids, the last resting place of prince Pückler-Muskau. Cottbus is a green city with many parks and green spaces. The German Federal Garden Show was held in Cottbus in 1995.
It is also a very athletic city and olympic training center. There are 145 sports clubs and olympic champions are honored with a badge on the town house pavement; 56 at the moment.
The surroundings of Cottbus provide many attractive places of excursions. The Spreewald is a biosphere reserve with a unique lagoon landscape. Visitors can experience the beautiful nature of the Spreewald with a wooden boat and learn how to row and steer a traditional Spreewald boat. The renaturated open pit lignite mines provide an extensive cycle path network around the newly created lake landscape.
The meeting venue of Declare 2019 is on the main campus of the Brandenburg University of Technology (BTU). The BTU is with 7000 students the second largest and the only technical university in Brandenburg. In 2013 it was re-established after a consolidation between the Brandenburg University of Technology and the university of applied sciences Lausitz in Senftenberg.