Sights in Bonn

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Bonn: old Town Hall

Bonn: old Town Hall

Keith Penton

Charming, small and modern, Bonn is a great place to spend a few days. Since the 19th century, it has been the university that has established Bonn's international reputation. Its main building is the former electoral palace, whiches stretches along the southern boundary of the pedestrianised town centre. A 1-km-long baroque avenue, the Poppelsdorfer Allee, connects the university main building with the Poppelsdorf palace, which houses the mineralogy department and museum and is surrounded by the Botanical Garden. The garden front of the main building overlooks the Hofgarten park with the Akademisches Kunstmuseum (Academic Art Museum, built in 1825 as anatomic theatre) and its river-front extension, the Stadtgarten and Alter Zoll, a remnant of the old fortifications with a great view of the river and the Siebengebirge (Seven Hills) at the southeastern outskirts of the city. The main road to the south (to the federal district, Bad Godesberg and ultimately Koblenz; federal highway no. 9) passes through the university building by way of an ornate gate house, the Koblenzer Tor.

Whereas the river front of the city centre has been completely transformed after World War II with the construction of the modernist Opera House and a new access road to the Rhine bridge, most of the old town centre has preserved its mediaeval street plan, now almost completely pedestrianised. This is the main shopping area with a lively daily (except Sundays) fruit and vegetable market in the market square (Markt). The baroque Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) forms the southeastern end of the market square. Next to it you find "Em Höttche", one of Bonn's most traditional restaurants (going back to 1389). Six streets radiate out from the Markt. Brüdergasse leads you to the Gothic Minorite Church St. Remigius (beautiful, intricate tracery in the apse), where the young Beethoven practised on the organ, Bonngasse to the mainly baroque Jesuit Church (Namen-Jesu-Kirche, now Roman-Catholic university church), the Beethoven House and the chamber music hall. The two main shopping streets are Sternstraße (the name is a corruption of Pisternenstraße, from the Latin for "street of the bakers") and Remigiusstraße, which leads to the second main square, the Münsterplatz. The square is dominated by the Romanesque Münster basilica, Bonn's premier landmark. Around the corner (Am Hof 32-34), you find hidden behind a 19th-century facade a 12th-century private chapel, the Helenakapelle, a gem that even few Bonners know. On the opposite side of the square stands the Beethoven statue, erected in 1845 for the first Beethoven festival (now an annual event in Bonn). It turns its back to the former "Fürstenberg'sches Palais" (the main post office), where the guests of honor for the unveiling ceremony were assembled on the balcony, among them Queen Victoria and the Prussian king. Alexander von Humboldt is said to have saved the day when he remarked that Beethoven had always been a rude fellow. unveiling ceremony were assembled on the balcony, among them Queen Victoria and the Prussian king. Alexander von Humboldt is said to have saved the day when he remarked that Beethoven had always been a rude fellow. Vivatgasse (the apparently Latin "Vivat" actually derives from Viehpfad, "cattle path"; too humble a name for a prosperous university town, it seems) leads to the Sterntor, a reconstruction of one of the city gates (originally located at the end of Sternstraße) and a remnant of the 14th century city wall. In the Alter Friedhof (Old Cemetery), just outside the historic centre between the 1970s high-rise City Hall (Stadthaus) and the railway line, many prominent Bonners were laid to rest, among them Beethoven's mother, Robert and Clara Schumann, the astronomer Friedrich Argelander and the romanticist August Wilhelm von Schlegel.

In the late 19th century, Bonn expanded and the residential districts of Weststadt and Südstadt were developed. The elegant upper-middle-class quarters of the Südstadt have largely survived World War II and post-war redevelopment (between Poppelsdorfer Allee, Adenauer Allee and Reuterstraße). The university's science departments expanded during that period in the Weststadt (mainly Nußallee and Meckenheimer Allee).

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