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Bregenz is the capital of Vorarlbergmarker, the westernmost federal state of Austriamarker. The city is located on the eastern shores of Lake Constancemarker, the third-largest freshwater lake in Central Europe, between Switzerlandmarker in the west and Germanymarker in the northwest.

The city is situated on a plateau falling in a series of terraces to the lake at the foot of Pfändermarker mountain. It is a junction of the arterial roads from the Rhinemarker valley to the German Alpine foothills, with cruise ship services on Lake Constance.

Bregenz is twinned with Bangormarker in Northern Irelandmarker, and various exchange trips take place between the two places. Another twin town is Acremarker in Israelmarker.

It is especially famous for the annual summer music festival Bregenzer Festspielemarker.

History

The Pfänder,a famous lookout point of Bregenz
The first settlements date from 1500 BC. In the 5th century BC, the Celts settled at Brigantion, which was one of their most heavily fortified locations. After battles in 15 BC, the Romans conquered Brigantion and the city became a Roman camp. It was conferred the status of a municipality (Brigantium) around AD 50 and was the seat of the Roman admiralty for Lake Constance. In 259/60 Brigantium was destroyed by the Alemanni, a Germanic people who settled in the area in around 450.

From 610 to 612 St. Columbanus and Saint Gall worked as missionaries in Bregenz. From 917 the castle served as a residence of the Udalrichinger (ruling dynasty of Vorarlberg), who called themselves Counts of Bregenz. The house died out around 1150. The son of the first Ulrich was Saint Gebhard, born in 947. He became Bishop of Konstanz and was later known as the patron of the pregnant women. In around 1170 Hugo of Tübingen (Montfort) founded a town settlement (first documented mention in 1249), enlarged in the 13th and 14th century and from 1650 to 1652.

Sold in 1451 and in 1523 to the Habsburgs, under Bavarianmarker rule from 1805 to 1814; from 1842 to 1850 construction of the harbour (in 1883 and from 1889-1891) enlargement of the harbour, Austrian ship service was set up in 1884), rail communication has existed since 1872 (since 1884 across the Arlberg massif); since then the town has extended to the surrounding countryside. Since 1726 main seat of the Austrian administration in Vorarlberg ("Obervogtei", in 1786 "Kreisamt", since 1861 seat of the Landtag, since 1918 seat of the Landeshauptmann), Rieden-Vorkloster and Fluh were incorporated to Bregenz in 1919 and in 1946, respectively. Bombarded in 1945, 72 houses were destroyed.

Buildings and places of interest

Anton Schneider Street
Landmarks buildings of Bregenz include Martins Tower, St. Gallus Church, the Art House, the Post Office Building, and the Lake Promenade. A well known meeting point for local philosophers, politicians, writers and musicians.

Upper town: (oldest part, remains from the 13th and 16th centuries, town walls still standing), old town hall (1662); the Martinsturm is considered the landmark of Bregenz (late Roman core, chapel with frescos from 1362, from 1599 to 1601 a storey was added, biggest Baroque bulb-shaped steeple in Central Europe, houses the Museum of Military History); Gothic parish church of St. Gall (the Roman-Romanesque foundations date from before 1380, rebuilt around 1480, from 1737 to 1938 altered by F. A. Beer in Baroque style); Herz-Jesu parish church (1905-1908).

Lower town: town hall built in 1686 (façade from 1898) Gothic Seekapelle, Landhaus (built from 1973 to 1982 by W. Holzbauer), the former Kornhausmarkt (built from 1838 to 1940, altered from 1951 to 1955) now houses a theatre, Protestant church of the Sacred Cross (1862-1864), Parish church, church of St. Kolumban (1962-1966), Kunsthaus Bregenz (1991-1997), Tourismushaus tourist centre (1994-1998). District of Vorkloster: Maria Hilf parish church (1925-1931, C. Holzmeister, interior from 1980) and Cistercian monastery of Mehreraumarker. On the Gebhardsberg rock, remains of the fortress of Hohenbregenz (destroyed by the Swedes in 1647).

Businesses and services

  • Government: Bregenz is the seat of the Vorarlberg provincial government (Landtag), home of most provincial authorities (e.g. school supervisor, police headquarters), department of human resources development (AMS), the police headquarters for the province of Vorarlberg, Office for Environmental Protection, Chamber of Labour, Economics Chamber, Chamber of Agriculture, Chamber of Pharmacists, military regional headquarters, military garrison, on of the main hospitals of the province (Landeskrankenhaus) as well as a sanatorium, farmers' health and social insurance office, VLV (Mutual Fire Insurance Institute).




  • Schools and the arts: 4 Gymnasium secondary schools, commercial college (HAK), technical college (HTL), upper secondary business schools (Höhere Lehranstalt für wirtschaftliche Berufe), 3 Berufsschulen vocational schools, crafts colleges, Academy of Social Sciences, nursing school; adult education centre, school boarding houses, provincial archives, provincial library, provincial museum, Kunsthaus Bregenz (modern arts centre), Künstlerhaus art centre - Thurn and Taxis Palace, five monasteries, Heimatwerk (autonomous institution fostering the manufacturing of traditional craft products, etc.), various newspapers.


  • Public facilities: Festival and Congress centre, Theater am Kornmarkt, casino, harbour for sailing boats and yachts, cable car up the Pfänder mountain.


  • Economic structure: 14,769 employed people in 1991. It is mainly dominated by small businesses in the service, trade and industry sectors: textile industry (Wolford AG), iron-fittings manufacturer (Julius Blum GmbH), glass processing and machine construction. Bi-seasonal tourism, a major attraction is the Bregenz Festival (since 1946, floating stage since 1949, modernised in 1979, Festival and Congress Hall in 1980), winter sports at the Pfänder mountain.


Culture

The annual summer music festival Bregenzer Festspielemarker is a world-famous festival which takes place on and around a stage on Lake Constance, where a different opera is performed every second year.

A1 Bregenz HB is a handball team.

Celebrities



Notes and references



External links

  • http://www.fw.bregenz.at/vkl Official site in German
  • http://www.bregenz.at Official site (in German)
  • http://www.pfaender.at Official site (German/English/Italiano/Francais) of the Pfänder Mountain
  • http://www.pfaenderbahn.at (in German)
  • http://www.scbregenz.at Official site (in German) of local Football Club
  • Bregenzer Festspiele/ Bregenze Festival website



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