Dessau is too easily missed. Despite being one of the few places in Europe to boast not just one but two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the city on the Elbe is by-passed on many travel itineraries. Not a single Inter-City train stops at Dessau, so rail travellers must resort to the red local trains that dawdle through forests and pause at crumbling platforms built to serve long abandoned factories.
Dessau is in the German State of Saxony-Anhalt, a part of former East Germany that has seen too few benefits from German unification and suffers from high unemployment. Drive southwest down the motorway from Berlin and as you crest a little rise in the undulating forests you cross the border from Brandenburg into Saxony-Anhalt. "Welcome to the land of the early risers," exclaim huge signs by the side of the motorway. It is a proclamation that surely encourages many would-be visitors just to speed through Saxony-Anhalt as quickly as possible.
Exactly what induces all those folk in Saxony-Anhalt to get up so early is quite a mystery. Unless of course they are interested in history.