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Bielefeld ( , from bileveld -- ) is a county borough that is the largest city of the Ostwestfalen-Lippemarker Region. The city is situated below a pass separating the Northern and Southern Teutoburg Forest. The centre of Bielefeld is situated on the eastern side of the Teutoburg Forest, but the modern city incorporates boroughs on the opposite side and on the hilltops.

Neustädter Marienkirche.

Bielefeld about 1895
Old Market Place (Alter Markt)


Founded in 1214 by Count Hermann IV of Ravensbergmarker to guard a pass crossing the Teutoburg Forestmarker, Bielefeld was the "city of linen" as a minor member of the Hanseatic League.

After the Cologne-Minden railway opened in 1849, the Bozi brothers constructed the first large mechanised spinning mill in 1851. The Ravensberg Spinning Mill was built from 1854 to 1857, and metal works began to open in the 1860s.

Between 1904 and 1930, Bielefeld grew, opening a railway station, a municipal theatre, and finally, the Rudolf-Oetker-Halle concert hall, famous for its excellent acoustics. The Dürkopp car was produced 1898-1927. After printing emergency money ( ) in 1923 during the inflation in the Weimar Republic, Bielefeld was one of several towns that printed attractive banknotes with designs on silk, leather, linen, wood, velvet and other materials.

Nazi Germany: The town's synagogue was burned in 1938. In 1944, B-17 Flying Fortresses bombed Bielefeld on September 20 (the gas works)[26985] & October 7, and the RAF bombed on December 4/5,[26986] In 1945, B-17s bombed the Paderborn marshalling yard and "Schildesche rail viaduct" were bombed on January 17, 1945, and on March 14 against the viaduct, the Grand Slam bomb was first used. American troops entered the city in April 1945.

After forming in 1867 as a Bielefeld sewing machine repair company, AG Dürkoppwerke employed 1,665 people in 1892; used Waffenamt code "WaA547" from 1938-1939 as the Dürkopp-Werke, and merged with other Bielefeld companies to form Dürkopp Adler AG in 1990.

In 1973 the first villages on the opposite side of the Teutoburg Forest were incorporated

Industry and Education

In addition to home appliance manufacture and various heavy industries, Bielefeld companies include Dr. Oetker (food manufacturing), Möller Group (leather products and plastics) and Seidensticker (clothing and textiles).

Bielefeld Universitymarker was founded in 1969. Among its first professors was notable contemporary German sociologist Niklas Luhmann. Other institutions of higher education include the Theological Seminary Bethel (Kirchliche Hochschule Bethel) and the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciencesmarker ( ), which offers 21 courses in 8 different departments (agriculture and engineering are in Mindenmarker).


Two major autobahns, the A 2 and A 33, intersect at the south east of Bielefeld. The Ostwestfalendamm expressway connects the two parts of the city naturally divided by the Teutoburg Forest. The main railroad station of Bielefeld is part of the German ICE high-speed railroad system. Bielefeld has a small airstrip, Flugplatz Bielefeld, in the Senne district but is mainly served by the two larger airports nearby, Paderborn Lippstadt Airportmarker and Münster Osnabrück International Airportmarker.

Bielefeld boasts a well developed public transport system, served mainly by the companies moBiel (formerly Stadtwerke Bielefeld - Verkehrsbetriebe) and BVO. A rapid transit system with four major lines and regional trains connect different parts of the city with nearby counties. Buses also run throughout the entire vicinity.

Main sights

Sparrenburg Castle.
Sparrenburg Castlemarker is the most famous landmark. It was built between 1240 and 1250 by Count Ludwig von Ravensbergmarker. The 37 m (121 ft) high tower and the catacombs of the castle are open to the public.

The Old City Hall (Altes Rathaus) was built in 1904 and still serves the same function. Its facade features elements of various architectural styles, including Gothic and Renaissance. Though the mayor still holds office in the Old City Hall, most of the city's administration is housed in the adjacent New City Hall (Neues Rathaus).

The City Theater (Stadttheater) is part of the same architectural ensemble as the Old City Hall, also built in 1904. It has a notable Jugendstil facade, is Bielefeld's largest theater and home of the Bielefeld Opera. Another theater (Theater am Alten Markt) resides in the former town hall building on the Old Marketplace (Alter Markt), which also contains a row of restored 16th and 17th century townhouses with noteworthy late Gothic and Weser Renaissance style facades (Bürgerhäuser am Alten Markt).

The oldest city church is Altstädter Nicolaikirche. It is a Gothic hall church with a height of 81.5 m (267 ft). It was founded in 1236 by the Bishop of Paderborn, and enlarged at the beginning of the 14th century. The church was damaged in World War II and later rebuilt. Three times a day, a carillon can be heard. The most valuable treasure of this church is a carved altar from Antwerpmarker, decorated with 250 figures. A small museum housed within illustrates the history of the church up to World War II.

The largest church is the Neustädter Marienkirche, a Gothic hall church dating back to 1293, completed 1512. It stands 78 m (256 ft) tall and has a length of 52 m (161 ft). Historically speaking, this building is considered to be the most precious. It was the starting point of the Protestant Reformation in Bielefeld in 1553. A valuable wing-altar with 13 pictures, known as the Marienaltar is also kept inside. The baroque spires were destroyed in World War II and later replaced by two unusually-shaped "Gothic" clocktowers. The altarpiece of the Bielefeld church Neustädter Marienkirche from around 1400 is among the most prominent masterpieces of artwork of the German Middle Ages. Two of the altarpieces, The Flagellation and The Crucifixion are now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Artmarker in New Yorkmarker.

Bielefeld is also the seat of the two largest Protestant social welfare establishments (Diakonie) in Europe, the von Bodelschwingsche Anstalten Bethel and the Evangelisches Johanneswerk.

Other important cultural sights of the region are the art museum (Kunsthalle), the Rudolf Oetker concert hall (Rudolf-Oetker-Halle), and the city's municipal botanical garden (the Botanischer Garten Bielefeldmarker).

On Hünenburgmarker there is an observation tower, next to a 164 meters (538 ft) high broadcast tower.

Twin towns - Sister cities

Bielefeld is twinned with:


  1. October 1944 & January 1945
  2. Flugplatz Bielefeld

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