ZERBST, a town of Germany, in the duchy of Anhalt, situated on the Nuthe, n m. N.W. of Dessau and 27 m. S.E. of Magdeburg by the railway Dessau-Leipzig. Pop. (1000) 17,095. It is still surrounded in part by old walls and bastions, while other portions of the whilom fortifications have been converted into pleasant promenades. It contains five churches, one of which (St Nicholas), built in 1446-88, is a good example of the late Gothic style as developed in Saxony, with its spacious proportions, groined vaulting, and bare simple pillars. The town hall dates from about 1480, but it was disfigured by additions in the beginning of the 17th century. It contains the municipal museum, among the chief treasures of which is a Luther Bible illustiated by Lucas Cranach the younger. The palace (1681-1750) has been used as a depository of archives since 1872. There are several quaint old houses, with high gables, in the market-place, in the middle of which stand a Roland column, of about 1445, and a bronze figure known as the Butterjungjer (butter-girl), of uncertain origin and meaning, but now regarded as the palladium of the town. The old Franciscan monastery, with fine cloisters, founded in 1250, contains the gymnasium; a Cistercian nunnery of 1214 has been converted into barracks; and the Augustinian monastery of 1390 has been a hospital since 1525. gold and silver articles, silk, plush, cloth, leather, soap, starch, chemicals and carriages are among the chief manufactures. Iron-founding is carried on; and several breweries are engaged in the preparation of Zerbster bitter beer, which enjoys considerable repute.
Zerbst is an ancient town, mentioned in 949. In 1307 it came into the possession of the Anhalt family, and from 1603 till i7<>3_was the capital of the collateral branch of AnhaltZerbst. In 1793 it passed to Anhalt-Dessau.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)