Bonn Introduction Walking Tour, Bonn

Bonn Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Bonn

In 12 BC or thereabouts, the Roman army established in the Rhine valley, a large military encampment called "Castra Bonnensis." Literally "Fort Bonn." Built of wood at first and then replaced by stone, the fort lasted well into the 5th century AD.

The old fort materials were used to build Bonn's 13th century walls. The medieval city formed around the Romanesque church of Bonne Minster, built between the 11th and 13th centuries. In 1597 Bonn became the seat of the Archdiocese of Cologne.

In the 18th century the Prince elector Clemens August initiated the construction of a series of Baroque style buildings, setting a style for the city that lasts today. Max Franz, elector from 1784 to 1794, founder of the University of Bonn, is mainly remembered as a patron of young Ludwig van Beethoven.

In 1794 the city was made a part of the French Empire under Napoleon. After Napoleon resettled himself in the Island of St Helena, Bonn was transferred to the Kingdom of Prussia. It was a part of the German Empire in 1871. It became the capital of West Germany after World War II. It retains some government functions since reunification.

The center of old Bonn is the enormous Market Square. Among the attractive Rococo-style buildings is the former Town Hall. The towering obelisk monument and fountain commands the center of the square. The ancient Bonne Minster church hovers at the edges.

To visit Bonn is to visit the life and times of its most famous citizen, Ludwig van Beethoven. His birth house and museum is Beethovenhaus at Bonngasse 20. The Beethoven orchestra plays at Beethoven Hall. His imposing memorial statue dominates Munster Square, another vast public square of Bonn.

On Museum Mile visit the House of History, Alexander Konig Museum, Deutches Museum, Art Museum, Arithmeum and LVR-Landes Museum. See the pleasure palace of the elector, Poppelsdorf Palace, and the unmatchable Botanical Gardens.

Charles de Gaulle, John F. Kennedy, Mikail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela were welcomed here. Princes, Queens, artists, musicians and lovers of art have made Bonn a magnet of culture and beauty. Come to Bonn.
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Bonn Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Bonn Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Germany » Bonn (See other walking tours in Bonn)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
Author: Caroline
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Market Square and Town Hall
  • Beethoven House
  • Sterntor (Stargate)
  • Beethoven Monument
  • Münsterplatz (Muster Square)
  • Bonn Minster
  • Botanical Gardens and Poppelsdorf Palace
Market Square and Town Hall

1) Market Square and Town Hall (must see)

The Market Square of Bonn is dominated by the Old Town Hall ("Altes Rathaus") built in 1737, during the time of Elector Clemens August. The Hall was built in the Rococo style by French architect Michel Leveilly. It was was heavily damaged in 1944 but it was successfully rebuilt without major changes in design.

The building has four stories and seven window axes and a Gambrel roof with dormers. It is well known for its gilded double staircase on two "folded" ramps at the main entrance. Charles de Gaulle, John F. Kennedy, and Mikhail Gorbachev are among the heads of state that have signed the Hall's Golden Book.

Another landmark is the obelisk of the Market Fountain standing in a pool at the center of the square. The 13th century church of Bonn Minster with its conical towers offers a place for meditation.

At the right of the Town Hall was the restaurant Der Zehrgarten, a meeting place of artists and society in Beethoven's time. It was a frequent haunt of young Beethoven who was a great admirer of Babette Koch, daughter of the manager. In November 1792 Beethoven made his farewell to friends in Der Zehrgarten before leaving for Vienna.
Beethoven House

2) Beethoven House (must see)

Bonngasse 20 and 24-26 in Bonn is Beethoven's birthplace and museum. It is in the center of town by a pedestrianized zone within walking distance of the Rhine River. Beethoven was born at Number 20 in December 1770. The house is among the last 18th century buildings to be found in Bonn.

The house has a baroque stone facade. It stands on cellars and foundations dating from the 12th or 13th centuries. A kitchen and a utility room are on the ground floor. On the floor above are three rooms, including one large room. The bedrooms are on the uppermost floor. The family moved in 1774 to Auf dem Dreieck square.

The Beethoven House is comprised of the actual birth house and a museum including courtyards. It is maintained by the Beethoven House Trust, founded in 1889. Bonngasse 18 and 24 to 26 house a research center with a Beethoven archive collection, a library and publishing house and a chamber music hall.

The house was located in a middle-class neighborhood peopled mainly by employees of the courts. After the Beethovens left for other digs, the house was variously a grocery, a beer garden, a concert hall, and a restaurant. The renovators of 1889 tried to preserve the building as it was in the 18th century.

The beer garden was replaced with a real garden and a paved courtyard with trellises. The building suffered comparatively minor damages in World War II. There were renovations in the 1950s and 1960s. Further renovations occurred in 1996. The Beethoven House was awarded the Europa Nostra award for heritage preservation in 1998.

The Beethoven House is the building in the front of the museum complex and the annex by the garden. Low ceilings, warped, creaking stairs and floors preserve an impression of life in Bonn in the 18th century. Experience a trip into the past in the collection of portraits, manuscripts, and instruments. The house has become its own exhibition.
Sterntor (Stargate)

3) Sterntor (Stargate)

The original Stargate of Bonn was built in 1244. It was part of the city's defensive walls. The current Stargate was erected in a different location than the first stargate, which was demolished in 1898 to ease traffic. The 1900 gate is, in effect, a memorial to the first Stargate.

The 1900 Stargate consists partially of materials and structures salvaged from the first Stargate. It was built on the north side of the Bottler Square. It includes parts of the city wall and an ancient half-tower. There is a corner turret and an enclosing crenelated wreath. The barrel vault is from the 17th century.

The outer archway holds two portraits from 1650: The Crucified Jesus with Mary and St John, and The Mother of God with Seven Sorrows. The Stargate of 1900 is in the list of monuments of "former part of the medieval town fortification."
Beethoven Monument

4) Beethoven Monument

Heinrich Carl Breidenstein, Germany's first musicologist, was an ardent Beethoven fan. In 1832 he put forward the idea of a memorial to his idol, Ludwig van Beethoven, who had died in 1827. The idea caught on.

In 1835 the newly formed Bonn Association for the Beethoven Monument, captained by August Wilhelm Schlegel, a Shakespearean scholar, issued a call for a Beethoven monument. Hungarian composer and pianist Franz Liszt donated over 10,000 francs. Chopin, Schumann, Mendelssohn, and others quickly followed.

The contract was awarded to sculptor Ernst Julius Hahnel. The casting was done by Jakob Daniel Burgschmiedt of Nuremberg. The Beethovenfest began on Sunday, 10 August 1845. It was four days of music, dance, and fireworks.

The events were attended by Frederick William IV of Prussia, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and Archduke Friedrich of Austria. Hector Berlioz came, Robert Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn attended. Jenny Lind and Pauline Viardot showed with the mischievous Lola Montez, who embarrassed Liszt by dancing on a table.

The monument stands in front of the former Main Post Office on Munster Square ("Munsterplatz"). Most critics feel that the statue presents a good likeness of the composer. He stands on a base depicting instrumental, opera, spiritual and symphonic forms of music. His back is turned to the Old Main Post Office.

He glares into space, tight-lipped, chin up. He was reputed to be a rough character.
Münsterplatz (Muster Square)

5) Münsterplatz (Muster Square)

From the Middle Ages until today, Munster Square in the center of Bonn, has been a lively place. It is easily reached from the main station by way of Post Street (Poststrasse). It is one of the largest three squares in Bonn. The other two are Peach Square (Friedensplatz) and Bonn Market Square (Marktplatz).

Munster Square is famous for its spectacular Bonn Christmas Market. On the northwest side of the square is the Old Post Office dating from 1753. Standing in front of its yellow facade is the monumental statue of Beethoven, erected in 1845. The 13th century high-spired Bonner Minster Church dominates one side of the squar.

Department stores, the long established Milchpavilion Milk Pavilion (Milchpavilion), the time-honored pub named "Chicken" (Hahnchen), shops and cafes line the square. Besides the Christmas Market, the Munster Square hosts various festivals, craft shows, fairs and rallies. There is a tourist information office close to the Old Post Office.
Bonn Minster

6) Bonn Minster (must see)

Saints Cassius and Florentius were soldiers of the all-Christian Theban Legion, a Roman legion from Egypt. In 235 AD the legion, en masse, refused to march against Burgundian Christians. Cassius and Florentius were beheaded and their entire legion were put to death. There is a legend that Saint Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, built a shrine there in the 4th century.

The shrine, if there was one, has not survived. There is evidence however, that a Roman temple and necropolis once stood on the site of the basilica. An original memorial hall was replaced by a church in the 6th and 7th centuries. In 1050 this church was demolished and work began on the present Romanesque structure.

Work on the church was completed in the 13th century. By this time Bonn had become the capital of the Electorate and the Archbishopric of Cologne. Cassius and Florentius were declared patron saints of Bonn in 1643.

The five-towered Minster has a Rhineland Romanesque choir and square towers with spires and Lombard bands. There is a galleried apse and a four-bay aisled nave with a three story elevation. The basilica was the inspiration for the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin. Kaiser Wilhelm had studied in Bonn.
Botanical Gardens and Poppelsdorf Palace

7) Botanical Gardens and Poppelsdorf Palace (must see)

Joseph Clemens, Archbishop-Elector of Cologne in 1715, had a problem. His old ruined castle of Poppelsdorf desperately needed a rehab. His plan was to replace the castle with a "pleasure house." He wanted it to be like the Palace of Versailles.

French architect Robert de Cotte designed the Elector's dream palace. In 1818, under Prussian rule, the Palace became part of the University of Bonn. The Park was remade as the Botanical Garden of Bonn.

Robert de Cotte's plan followed the country house concepts of the time: interior circular courtyards, audience rooms, dining rooms, a chapel and a Great Room or hall. The Palace suffered extensive bomb damage in 1944. It was rebuilt using a more simplified plan.

The Botanical Gardens currently cover 9.5 hectares of ground, of which 6.5 hectares are open to the public. The baroque garden, its arboretum and two conservatories are cared for by the university.

The outdoor portion the garden holds 3,000 species organized into four sections. The Arboretum has 700 species of woody plants, trees and shrubs. The Systemic section has 1,200 species of plants and flowers. The Geographic section plants are grouped according to geographical origin. The Biotope section is local endangered flora.

The greenhouses are the Fern House, the Mediterranean House, the Palm House, the Succulent House, and The Victorian bog House. Smaller houses contain carnivorous plants and orchids.

Walking Tours in Bonn, Germany

Create Your Own Walk in Bonn

Create Your Own Walk in Bonn

Creating your own self-guided walk in Bonn is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Beethoven Trail

Beethoven Trail

One of the most recognized music geniuses, whose works remain mainstays of the classical music repertoire around the world, Ludwig van Beethoven saw the light of day in Bonn in 1770. Needless to say that the legacy of the city’s most famous resident is highly respected and honored today. Indeed, Beethoven's presence is still very much felt throughout Bonn, encountering visitors in many...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles