|Location: Lokalbrücke Nr. 9 |
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany, located about 20 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia. It was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990. From 1288 to 1803 it was the residence of the Archbishops and Prince-electors of Cologne.
The history of the city dates back to Roman times. About 10 BC the Romans constructed a bridge across the Rhine close to a place called "Bonna". After the Roman defeat in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest this small camp was enlarged to become a fort for 7000 legionnaires.
The fort became a town which remained after the Romans left. Between the 11th and 13th centuries, the Romanesque style Münster (cathedral) was built, and in 1597 Bonn became the capital of the principality of Cologne. The town gained more influence and grew considerably. The elector Clemens August (ruled 1724-1761) ordered the construction of a series of Baroque buildings which still give the city its character. Another memorable ruler was Max Franz (ruled 1784-1794), who founded the university and the spa quarter of Bad Godesberg. In addition he was a patron of the young Ludwig van Beethoven, who was born in the city in 1770; the elector financed the composer's first journey to Vienna.
In 1794, the town was seized by French troops. It became a part of the First French Empire Empire. In 1815 Bonn was taken by Prussia and remained a Prussian city until 1945. The town was of little relevance in these years.
Following World War II Bonn was in the British zone of occupation, and in 1949 became the provisional capital of West Germany. The choice of Bonn was made mainly due to the advocacy of Konrad Adenauer, a former Cologne Mayor and Chancellor of West Germany after World War II, who came from that area, despite the fact that Frankfurt had most of the needed facilities already and using Bonn was estimated to be 95 Mill DM more expensive than using Frankfurt. Because of its relatively small size for a capital city, Bonn was sometimes referred to, jokingly, as the Bundesdorf (Federal Village).
German reunification in 1990 made Berlin the nominal capital of Germany again. This decision did not mandate that the republic's political institutions would also move. This was only concluded by the Bundestag (Germany's parliament) on June 20, 1991, after a heated debate. While the government and parliament moved, as a compromise, some of the ministries largely remained in Bonn, with only the top officials in Berlin. There was no plan to move these departments, and so Bonn remained a second, unofficial capital with the new title "Federal City" (Bundesstadt). Because of the necessary construction work, the move took until 1999 to complete.
The University of Bonn, with about 30,000 students, is one of the largest in Germany.