Main Births etc
Federal City of Bonn
Bundesstadt Bonn
Beethoven Monument, Villa Hammerschmidt, Old City Hall, Poppelsdorf Palace, panoramic view over Bonn and the Electoral Palace, now seat of the University of Bonn (clockwise from top left).
Country Germany
State North Rhine-Westphalia
Admin. region Cologne
District Urban district
Founded 1st century BC
First mentioned
 • Lord Mayor Jürgen Nimptsch (SPD)
 • Total 141.22 km2 (54.53 sq mi)
Elevation 60 m (200 ft)
Population (2010-12-31)[1]
 • Total 324,899
 • Density 2,300/km2 (6,000/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 53111–53229
Dialling codes 0228
Vehicle registration BN

Bonn (German pronunciation: [ˈbɔn]), officially the Federal City of Bonn, is a city on the banks of the Rhine River in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany with a population of 309,869 within its administrative limits. The city is the second official residence of the President of Germany, the Chancellor of Germany, the Bundesrat, and the first official seat of six German federal ministries. Bonn is located in the very south of the Rhine-Ruhr region, the largest metropolitan area of Germany with over 11 million inhabitants.

Founded in the first century BC as a Roman settlement, Bonn is one of Germany's oldest cities. From 1597 to 1794, Bonn was the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and residence of the Archbishops and Prince-electors of Cologne. In 1949, the Parliamentary Council drafted and adopted the German constitution, the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn. Subsequently, Bonn was the de facto capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990, whilst Berlin was symbolically named the de jure capital. After the Fall of the Iron Curtain, Bonn remained the seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999. In recognition of this, the former capital holds the one-of-a-kind title of Federal City (Bundesstadt).

The two DAX-listed corporations Deutsche Post DHL and Deutsche Telekom are headquartered in Bonn. Besides, the city is home to 19 United Nations institutions, as well as to the University of Bonn, one of Germany's most reputable institutions of higher learning. Bonn is the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven (born 1770).


Langer Eugen, centre of the United Nations Campus

Sterntor (star gate), a reconstruction of a gate of the medieval city wall

Old City Hall of Bonn (view from the market square)

The history of the city dates back to Roman times. In about 11 BC, the Roman army appears to have stationed a small unit in what is presently the historical centre of the town. Even earlier, the army had resettled members of a Germanic tribal group allied with Rome, the Ubii, in Bonn. The Latin name for that settlement, "Bonna", may stem from the original population of this and many other settlements in the area, the Eburoni. The Eburoni were members of a large tribal coalition effectively wiped out during the final phase of Caesar's War in Gaul. After several decades, the army gave up the small camp linked to the Ubii-settlement. During the 1st century AD, the army then chose a site to the north of the emerging town in what is now the section of Bonn-Castell to build a large military installation dubbed Castra Bonnensis, i.e., literally, "Fort Bonn". Initially built from wood, the fort was eventually rebuilt in stone. With additions, changes and new construction, the fort remained in use by the army into the waning days of the Western Roman Empire, possibly the mid-5th century. The structures themselves remained standing well into the Middle Ages, when they were called the Bonnburg. They were used by Frankish kings until they fell into disuse. Eventually, much of the building materials seem to have been re-used in the construction of Bonn's 13th-century city wall. The Sterntor (star gate) in the town centre is a reconstruction using the last remnants of the medieval city wall.

To date, Bonn's Roman fort remains the largest fort of its type known from the ancient world, i.e. a fort built for one full-size Imperial Legion and its auxiliaries. The fort covered an area of approximately 250,000 square metres (62 acres). Between its walls it contained a dense grid of streets and a multitude of buildings, ranging from spacious headquarters and large officers' houses to barracks, stables and a military jail. Among the legions stationed in Bonn, the "1st", i.e. the Prima Legio Minervia, seems to have served here the longest. Units of the Bonn legion were deployed to theatres of war ranging from modern-day Algeria to what is now the Russian republic of Chechnya.

The chief Roman road linking the provincial capitals of Cologne and Mainz cut right through the fort where it joined the fort's main road (now, Römerstraße). Once past the South Gate, the Cologne–Mainz road continued along what are now streets named Belderberg, Adenauerallee et al. On both sides of the road, the local settlement, Bonna, grew into a sizeable Roman town.

In late antiquity, much of the town seems to have been destroyed by marauding invaders. The remaining civilian population then holed up inside the fort along with the remnants of the troops stationed here. During the final decades of imperial rule, the troops were supplied by Germanic chieftains employed by the Roman administration. When the end came, these troops simply shifted their allegiances to the new barbarian rulers. From the fort, the Bonnburg, as well as from a new medieval settlement to the South centred around what later became the minster, grew the medieval city of Bonn.

Between the 11th and 13th centuries, the Romanesque style Bonn Minster was built, and in 1597 Bonn became the seat of the Archdiocese of Cologne. The town gained more influence and grew considerably. The elector Clemens August (ruled 1723–1761) 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 Bonn in 1770; the elector financed the composer's first journey to Vienna.

In 1794, the town was seized by French troops, becoming a part of the First French Empire. In 1815 following the Napoleonic Wars, Bonn became part of the Kingdom of Prussia. Administered within the Prussian Rhine Province, the town became part of the German Empire in 1871 during the Prussian-led unification of Germany. Bonn was of little relevance in these years.

Modern history[]

During World War 2, Bonn acquired military significance because of its strategic location on the Rhine River, which formed a natural barrier to easy penetration into the German heartland from the west. The Allied ground advance into Germany reached Bonn on 7 March 1945, and the US 1st Infantry Division captured the city during the battle of 8–9 March 1945.[2]

Following World War II, Bonn was in the British zone of occupation, and in 1949 became the de facto capital of the newly formed Federal Republic of Germany (the de jure capital of the Federal Republic throughout the years of the Cold War division of Germany was always Berlin). The choice of Bonn was made mainly due to the advocacy of West Germany's first chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, a former Cologne Mayor and a native of that area. This was despite the fact that Frankfurt already had most of the required facilities and using Bonn was estimated to be 95 million DM more expensive than using Frankfurt. However, Adenauer and other prominent politicians intended to make Berlin the capital of the reunified Germany, and felt that locating the capital in a major city like Frankfurt or Hamburg would imply a permanent capital and weaken support in West Germany for reunification.

Because of its relatively small size for a capital city, Bonn was sometimes referred to, jokingly, as the Bundeshauptstadt ohne nennenswertes Nachtleben (Federal capital without noteworthy nightlife) or the Bundesdorf (Federal Village).[3] At one point in the post-WWII/Cold War era, the U.S. Embassy in Bonn was America's largest, "comparable, with its thousands of staff, to the [U.S.] Baghdad embassy today".[4]

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. While some argued for the seat of government to move to Berlin, others advocated leaving it in Bonn—a situation roughly analogous to that of the Netherlands, where Amsterdam is the capital but The Hague is the seat of government. Berlin's previous history as united Germany's capital was strongly connected with Imperial Germany, the Weimar Republic and more ominously with Nazi Germany. It was felt that a new peacefully united Germany should not be governed from a city connected to such overtones of war. Additionally, Bonn was closer to Brussels, headquarters of the EU.

The heated debate that resulted was settled by the Bundestag (Germany's parliament) only on 20 June 1991. By a vote of 338–320,[5] the Bundestag voted to move the seat of government to Berlin. The vote broke largely along regional lines, with legislators from south and west favouring Bonn and legislators from north and east voting for Berlin.[6][7]

While the government and parliament moved to Berlin, as a compromise, some of the ministries (such as Defence and Agriculture) 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. Over 8,000 of the 18,000 federal bureaucratic employees remain in Bonn.[8]

At present, the private sector plays a major role in Bonn's economy. With five stock listed companies, Bonn has the 4th highest market capitalisation among German towns. With headquarters of DHL, T-Mobile and other renowned companies, managers have replaced the public sector.

View over central Bonn
View over central Bonn

Main sights[]

Godesburg Fortress.

Hofgarten (Court Garden) with Kurfürstliches Schloss (Electoral Prince's Castle), which serves as the main building of the University of Bonn. The church steeple of the Bonn Minster can be seen in the background.

Post Tower, headquarters of Deutsche Post/DHL.

Langer Eugen, centre of the UN Campus at the River Rhine in Bonn (view from the Post Tower).

Beethoven's birthplace is located in Bonngasse near the market place. Next to the market place is the Old Town Hall, built in 1737 in Rococo style, under the rule of Clemens August of Bavaria. It is used for receptions of guests of the town, and as an office for the mayor. Nearby is the Kurfürstliches Schloss, built as a residence for the prince-elector and now the main building of the University of Bonn.

The Poppelsdorfer Allee is an alley flanked by chestnut trees which had the first horsecar of the town. It connects the Kurfürstliches Schloss with the Poppelsdorfer Schloss, a palace that was built as a resort for the prince-electors in the first half of the 18th century, and whose grounds are now a botanical garden (the Botanischer Garten Bonn). This axis is interrupted by a railway line and Bonn Hauptbahnhof, a building erected in 1883/84.

The Beethoven Monument stands on the Münsterplatz, which is flanked by the Bonn Minster, one of Germany's oldest churches.

The three highest buildings in the city are the radio mast of WDR in Bonn-Venusberg (180 m), the headquarters of the Deutsche Post called Post Tower (162.5 m) and the former building for the German members of parliament Langer Eugen (114.7 m) now the new location of the UN Campus.


  • Bonn Minster[9]
  • Doppelkirche Schwarzrheindorf built in 1151
  • Old Cemetery Bonn, one of the best known ones in Germany[10]
  • Kreuzbergkirche, built in 1627 with Johann Balthasar Neumann's Heilige Stiege, it is a stairway for Christian pilgrims[11]

Castles and residences[]

Modern buildings[]


Beethoven's Pianos in the Beethoven-Haus. Stieler's famous portrait hangs on the wall.

  • Beethovenhalle
  • Bundesviertel (federal quarter) with lots of government structures including
    • Post Tower, the tallest building in the state North Rhine-Westphalia, housing the headquarters of Deutsche Post/DHL
    • Maritim Bonn, five-star hotel and convention centre
    • Schürmann-Bau, headquarters of Deutsche Welle
    • Langer Eugen, since 2006 the centre of the United Nations Campus, formerly housing the offices of the members of the German parliament
  • Deutsche Telekom headquarters
  • T-Mobile headquarters
  • Kameha Grand, five-star hotel


  • Museum Mile with
    • Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany), showing the Guggenheim Collection in 2006–2007[14]
    • Kunstmuseum Bonn (Bonn Museum of Modern Art)[15]
    • Haus der Geschichte (Museum of the History of the Federal Republic of Germany)[16]
    • Museum Koenig where the Parlamentarischer Rat first met[17]
  • Beethoven House, birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven[18]
  • Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn (Rhinish Regional Museum Bonn)[19]
  • Bonn Women's Museum
  • August-Macke-Haus, museum dedicated to Expressionist painter August Macke
  • Arithmeum


  • Arboretum Park Härle, an arboretum with specimens dating to 1870
  • Botanischer Garten (Botanical Garden), where Titan arum set a world record[20]
  • Rheinaue (Bonn), a leisure park on the banks of the Rhine[21]
  • Kottenforst, a large area of protected woods on the hills west of the city centre[22]
  • Rhine promenade and the Alter Zoll (Old Toll Station)
  • In the very south of the city, on the border with Wachtberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, is an extinct volcano the Rodderberg


Site of DFG in Bonn, Germany

The Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelms Universität Bonn (University of Bonn) is one of the largest universities in Germany. It is also the location of the German research institute Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) offices.

Private schools[]

  • Aloisiuskolleg, a Jesuit private school in Bad Godesberg with boarding facilities
  • Amos-Comenius-Gymnasium, a Protestant private school in Bad Godesberg
  • Bonn International School (BIS), a private English-speaking school set in the former American Compound in the Rheinaue, which offers places from kindergarten to 12th grade. It follows the curriculum of the International Baccalaureate.
  • King Fahd Academy, a private school in Mehlem, Bad Godesberg, which also includes a mosque
  • Libysch Schule, private Arabic high school
  • Independent Bonn International School, (IBIS) private primary school (serving from kindergarten, reception, and years 1 to 6)
  • École de Gaulle - Adenauer, private French-speaking school serving grades pre-school ("maternelle") to grade 4 (CM1)
  • Ernst-Kalkuhl-Gymnasium, private boarding and day school
  • Otto-Kühne-Schule Godesberg ("PÄDA"), private day school
  • Collegium Josephinum Bonn("CoJoBo"), private day school
  • Akademie fuer Internationale Bildung, private higher educational facility offering programs for international students Additionally there are six private Catholic schools.
  • Jugenddorf-Christophorusschule Königswinter (CJD), private Christian school serving grades Kindergarten to 13[23]


In 1969, the independent towns of Bad Godesberg and Beuel as well as several villages were incorporated into Bonn, resulting in a city more than twice as large as before. Bad Godesberg and Beuel became districts (Stadtbezirke) of Bonn with some independence and populations of about 70,000 each.

Each district has its own quarters:

  • Bad Godesberg: Alt-Godesberg, Friesdorf, Godesberg-Nord, Godesberg-Villenviertel, Heiderhof, Hochkreuz, Lannesdorf, Mehlem, Muffendorf, Pennenfeld, Plittersdorf, Rüngsdorf, Schweinheim
  • Beuel: Beuel-Mitte, Beuel-Ost, Geislar, Hoholz, Holtorf, Holzlar, Küdinghoven, Limperich, Oberkassel, Pützchen/Bechlinghoven, Ramersdorf, Schwarzrheindorf/Vilich-Rheindorf, Vilich, Vilich-Müldorf
  • Bonn: Auerberg, Bonn-Castell (until 2003: Bonn-Nord), Bonn-Zentrum, Buschdorf, Dottendorf, Dransdorf, Endenich, Graurheindorf, Gronau, Ippendorf, Kessenich, Nordstadt, Poppelsdorf, Röttgen, Südstadt, Tannenbusch, Ückesdorf, Venusberg, Weststadt
  • Hardtberg: Brüser Berg, Duisdorf, Hardthöhe, Lengsdorf, Lessenich/Meßdorf


Winter in Bonn, seen from the International Space Station

Bonn is connected to three autobahns (federal motorways) and the German rail network. Some InterCityExpress and most InterCity trains call at Bonn Hauptbahnhof whilst the Siegburg/Bonn railway station is situated on the Cologne–Frankfurt high-speed rail line outside of Bonn and serviced by InterCityExpress trains. Local transport is provided by the Bonn Stadtbahn, which also features two lines to Cologne.

Bonn's international airport is Cologne Bonn Airport.


As of 2011, Bonn had a population of 327,913. About 70% of the population was entirely of German origin, while about 100,000 people, equating to roughly 30%, were at least partly of non-German origin. The city is one of the fastest-growing municipalities in Germany and the 18th most populous city in the country. Bonn's population is predicted to surpass the populations of Wuppertal and Bochum before the year 2030.[24]

Number of ethnic minorities (1st and 2nd generation) in Bonn by country of origin as of 31 December 2006[25]

Rank Ancestry Number
1  Turkey 14,000
2  Morocco 5,000
3  Yugoslavia 5,000
4  Italy 4,500
5  Poland 4,000
6  Russia 3,000
7  Spain 3,000
8  Iraq 2,500
9  China 2,000


Deutsche Telekom head office

Deutsche Telekom, its subsidiary T-Mobile,[26] Deutsche Post, Haribo and SolarWorld have their head office in Bonn.


Bonn is home of the Telekom Baskets Bonn, the only basketball club in Germany that owns its arena, the Telekom Dome.[27] The club is a regular participant at international competitions such as the Eurocup.

International relations[]

Since 1983, the City of Bonn has established friendship relations with the City of Tel Aviv, Israel, and since 1988 Bonn, in former times the residence of the Princes Electors of Cologne, and Potsdam, Germany, the formerly most important residential city of the Prussian rulers, have established a city-to-city partnership.

Central Bonn is surrounded by a number of traditional towns and villages which were independent up to several decades ago. As many of those communities had already established their own contacts and partnerships before the regional and local reorganisation in 1969, the Federal City of Bonn now has a dense network of city district partnerships with European partner towns.

The city district of Bonn is a partner of the English university city of Oxford, England, UK (since 1947), of Budafok, District XXII of Budapest, Hungary (since 1991) and of Opole, Poland (officially since 1997; contacts were established 1954).

The district of Bad Godesberg has established partnerships with Saint-Cloud in France, Frascati in Italy, Windsor and Maidenhead in England, UK and Kortrijk in Belgium; a friendship agreement has been signed with the town of Yalova, Turkey.

The district of Beuel on the right bank of the Rhine and the city district of Hardtberg foster partnerships with towns in France: Mirecourt and Villemomble.

Moreover, the city of Bonn has developed a concept of international co-operation and maintains sustainability oriented project partnerships in addition to traditional city twinning, among others with Minsk in Belarus, Ulan Baatar in Mongolia, Bukhara in Uzbekistan, Chengdu in China and La Paz in Bolivia.

Twin towns—Sister cities[]

Bonn is twinned with:[28]


  1. ^ "Amtliche Bevölkerungszahlen" (in German). Landesbetrieb Information und Technik NRW. 31 December 2010. 
  2. ^ Stanton, Shelby, World War II Order of Battle: An Encyclopedic Reference to U.S. Army Ground Forces from Battalion through Division, 1939–1946 (Revised Edition, 2006), Stackpole Books, p. 76.
  3. ^ "C'est Si Bonn". TIME. May 29, 1964.,9171,940432,00.html. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  4. ^ "Remembering Germany" by Roger Cohen, The New York Times, "Published 25 January 2009". Retrieved 1-26-09.
  5. ^ "Bonn to Berlin move still controversial", The Local, "Published 11 June 2011". Retrieved 01-02-12.
  6. ^ "Nationalatlas aktuell", "Hauptstadtbeschluss" by Sebastian Lentz, "Published 17 Juni 2011". Retrieved 9-20-12.
  7. ^ Laux, Hans-Dieter, "Berlin oder Bonn? Geographische Aspekte eine Parlamentsentscheidung", "Geographische Rundschau", 43:12, 740–743, 1991.
  8. ^ Cowell, Alan (2011-06-23). "In Germany’s Capitals, Cold War Memories and Imperial Ghosts". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ "Das Bonner Münster @ Kirche in der City". Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  10. ^ "Alter Friedhof Bonn – Wikipedia" (in (German)). 2009-04-29. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  11. ^ "Kreuzbergkirche – Wikipedia" (in (German)). Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  12. ^ "Bonn Region - Sightseeing - Fortresses and castles - Godesburg mit Michaelskapelle (Fortress Godesburg with St. Michael Chapel)". 2005-05-25. Archived from the original on 2005-05-25. Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  13. ^ "Godesburg – Wikipedia" (in (German)). Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  14. ^ "Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany - Bonn - English Version". Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  15. ^ "Kunstmuseum Bonn - Overview". Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  16. ^ "Stiftung Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Home". 2008-06-13. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  17. ^ "Museum Koenig – Wikipedia" (in (German)). Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  18. ^ Fraunhofer-Institut für Medienkommunikation IMK (2002-03-26). "Beethoven digitally". Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  19. ^ "Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn – Wikipedia" (in (German)). Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  20. ^ "Botanischer Garten Bonn – Wikipedia" (in (German)). Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  21. ^ "Rheinaue (Bonn) – Wikipedia" (in (German)). Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  22. ^ "Kottenforst – Wikipedia" (in (German)). Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  23. ^ "CJD Jugenddorf-Christophorusschule Kцnigswinter - CJD Kцnigswinter" (in (German)). 2011-08-29. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  24. ^ [tt_news=3203&cHash=b391fefbdac6e3220eafe80076f021aa "IHK Bonn/Rhein-Sieg: Bonn wächst weiter"]. 2012-11-29.[tt_news]=3203&cHash=b391fefbdac6e3220eafe80076f021aa. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  25. ^ "Ausländer_2006-2007_Kreise.xls" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  26. ^ "Deutsche Telekom facts and figures." T-Mobile. Retrieved on 8 November 2009.
  27. ^ "Telekom Baskets Bonn - Telekom Dome - Übersicht", Retrieved 8 March 2014. (German)
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "City Twinnings". Stadt Bonn. Archived from the original on 2013-04-10. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  29. ^ "Oxford's International Twin Towns". Oxford City Council. Archived from the original on 2013-08-17. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  30. ^ "Opole Official Website - Twin Towns". Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Flag of Poland.svg (in English and Polish) © 2007-2009 Urząd Miasta Opola. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  31. ^ "Die Partnerstädte der Landeshauptstadt Potsdam" (in German). Retrieved 24 June 2010. 
  32. ^ "Cape Coast signs sister-city partnership with Bonn". Ghana News Agency (GNA). April 13, 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  33. ^ "Twin towns and Sister cities of Minsk [via"] (in Russian). The department of protocol and international relations of Minsk City Executive Committee. Archived from the original on 2 May 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-21. 
  34. ^ Both cities are former capital cities of their countries and have a rich history of art etc.

Further reading[]

External links[]

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