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Kiel ( ) is the capital and most populous city of the northern Germanmarker state Schleswig-Holsteinmarker, with a population of over 236,000 (2007).

Kiel is approximately to the north of Hamburgmarker. Due to its geographic location in the north of Germany, the southeast of the Jutland peninsula, and the southwestern shore of the Baltic Seamarker, Kiel has become one of the main maritime centres of Germany. For instance, the city is known for a variety of international sailing events, including the annual Kiel Week, which is the biggest sailing event in the world. The Olympic sailing competitions of the 1936 and the 1972 Summer Olympics were held in Kiel.

Kiel has also been one of the traditional homes of the German Navy's Balticmarker fleet, and continues to be a major high-tech shipbuilding centre. Kiel is an important sea transport hub, due to its location at the Kiel Fjordmarker and the busiest artificial waterway in the world, Kiel Canalmarker. A number of passenger ferries to Swedenmarker, Norwaymarker and other countries operate from here. Moreover, today Kiel harbour is an important port of call for cruise ships touring the Baltic Sea.

Kiel's 2005 GDP per capita was 35,618, well above the national average of Germanymarker, and equaled 159% of the European Union average.

Within Germany and parts of Europe, the city is known for its leading handball team, THW Kiel. The city is home to the University of Kielmarker (established in 1665).


Middle Ages

St. Niclas' Church was built in the 13th century and is the oldest building in Kiel.
The Kiel Fjord was first settled by Normans or Vikings who would colonize the land along their raids, for many years staying in German villages. This is recorded by the geography and architecture of the fjord. Kiel was originally founded in 1233 as Holstenstadt tom Kyle by Count Adolf IV, and granted Lübeck city rights in 1242 by Adolf's eldest son, John I of Schauenburg.

Kiel, the capital of Holstein, was a member of the Hanseatic League from 1284 until it was expelled in 1518 for harbouring pirates. In 1431, the Kieler Umschlag (trade fair) was first held, which became the central market for goods and money in Schleswig-Holstein, until it began to lose significance from 1850 on, being held for the last time in 1900.

Modern Times

The Botanical Garden during winter.
Kiel's Opera House
The University of Kielmarker was founded on 29 September 1665, by Christian Albert, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp. A number of important scholars, including Theodor Mommsen and Max Planck, studied or taught there.

From 1773 to 1864, the town belonged to the King of Denmarkmarker. However, because the king ruled Holstein as a fief of the Holy Roman Empire only through a personal union, the town was not incorporated as part of Denmark proper. Thus Kiel belonged to Germany, but it was ruled by the Danish king. Even though the Empire was abolished in 1806, the Danish king continued to rule Kiel, only through his position as Duke of Holstein. When Schleswig and Holstein rebelled against Denmark in 1848 (the First Schleswig War), Kiel became the capital of Schleswig-Holstein until the Danish victory in 1852.

During the Second Schleswig War in 1864, Kiel and the rest of Schleswig and Holstein were conquered by a German Confederationmarker alliance of the Austrian Empiremarker and the Kingdom of Prussiamarker. After the war, Kiel was briefly administered by both the Austrians and the Prussians, but the Austro-Prussian Warmarker in 1866 led to the annexation of Kiel by Prussia in 1867. On 24 March 1865 King William I based Prussia's Baltic Sea fleet out of Kiel instead of Danzig marker.

When William I of Prussia became Emperor William I of the German Empiremarker in 1871, he designated Kiel and Wilhelmshavenmarker as Reichskrieghäfen, or "Imperial War Harbour". The prestigious Yacht Club of Kielmarker was established in 1887 with Prince Heinrich of Prussia as its patron. Emperor Wilhelm II became its commodore in 1891.

Because of its new role as Germany's main naval base, Kiel quickly increased in size in the following years, from 18,770 in 1864 to about 200,000 in 1910. Much of the old town centre and other surroundings were levelled and redeveloped to provide for the growing city. Kiel was the site of the sailors' mutiny which sparked the German Revolution in late 1918. Just before the end of World War I, the German fleet stationed at Kiel was ordered to be sent out on a last great battle with the Royal Navy. The sailors, who thought of this as a suicide mission which would have no effect on the outcome of the war, decided they had nothing to lose and refused to leave the safety of the port. The sailors' actions and the lack of response of the government to them, fuelled by an increasingly critical view of the Kaiser, sparked a revolution which caused the abolition of the monarchy and the creation of the Weimar Republicmarker.

During World War II, Kiel remained one of the major naval bases and shipbuilding centres of the German Reich. There was also slave labour for the local industry. Because of its status as a naval port and as production site for submarines, Kiel was heavily bombed by the Allies during World War II. The bombing destroyed 80% of the remaining old town, 72% of the central residential areas, and 83% of the industrial areas. During the RAF bombing of 23/24 July 1944, Luftwaffe fighters tried to intercept the spoof (i.e. decoy) force instead of the main force attacking Kiel, and there was no water for 3 days; trains and buses did not run for 8 days and there was no gas available for cooking for 3 weeks. The town, its port, the canal and its scientists were seized by the British T-Force under Tony Hibbert just after the German surrender to the western Allies to stop them and access to Denmarkmarker falling into Russian hands, despite it being beyond the stop-line set by the surrender.

Just like other heavily bombed German cities, the city was rebuilt after the war. In 1946, Kiel was named the seat of government for Schleswig-Holsteinmarker, and it officially became the state's capital in 1972. Kiel is once again an important maritime centre of Germany, with high-tech shipbuilding, U-boat construction, ferries to Scandinavia and Russia, as well as the largest sailing event in the world called the Kiel Week in German and The Kiel Regatta in English. The Kieler Umschlag is another festival, which has been taking place since 1975. Kiel is also home to a large service sector and a number of research institutions including the University of Kielmarker, which is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious university in the state.

Main sights

The Opera House (Opernhaus) and the City Hall (Kieler Rathaus).
Möltenort is one of the seaside areas of Kiel.
The oldest building in the city is the 13th century Nikolaikirche (St Nicholas' Church), which has a sculpture of Ernst Barlach in front of it called Der Geistkämpfer.

Kiel is Schleswig-Holsteinmarker's largest city, and therefore Kiel's shopping district is a major attraction, and will see further improvement and renovation efforts in the upcoming years. Kiel's Holstenstrasse (Holsten Street) is one of the longest shopping miles in Germany. The Rathaus (town hall), which was built in 1911, has an operating paternoster and its tower was designed after a model from Venicemarker, Italy. The square in front of it is bordered by a lake and the Opera House. There are also a number of lakes and parks in the city centre, e.g. Schrevenpark (Schreven Park). There are two botanical gardens, the Alter Botanischer Gartenmarker and Neuer Botanischer Gartenmarker.

As Kiel is situated near the sea, the beaches to the north of Kiel such as Kiel-Strandemarker, Kiel-Schilksee, Möltenort and Laboemarker are also popular places to visit in spring and summer.

Kiel Week, more properly known in English as the Kiel Regatta, is the largest sailing event in the world and takes place in the last week in every June. Many thousands of boats and ships of all kinds and eras take part in the parade. Kiel Week is also a festival, Volksfest and fair at the same time as it is a maritime event.

There are a number of sports venues in Kiel, most notably the Sparkassen-Arenamarker (formerly known as Ostseehalle), which is the home ground of one of the most successful team handball clubs in the world and multiple German champion, THW Kiel. There is currently no top Bundesliga football club in Kiel, but Holstein Kielmarker plays at Holstein-Stadionmarker. There are a number of yachting and sailing clubs in picturesque settings.

Kiel also features a number of museums, including zoological, geological, historical, fine art, industrial, and military museums. Notable is the Stadtmuseum (City Museum) in Warleberger Hof, which in addition to preserving architecture from the 16th Century and historic rooms with painted stucco ceilings, displays urban and cultural exhibits of the 19th and 20th Century. Particularly intriguing is the history of the carnival in Kiel. Laboe is home to the Laboe Naval Memorialmarker, as well as the World War II submarine Unterseeboot 995marker, which are popular tourist sites.


Kiel's economy is dominated by the service sector, transportation, and maritime industry. Kiel is also one of the major ports of the German Navy, and a leading center of German high-tech military and civil shipbuilding. Kiel is the home of HDW Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft GmbHmarker, a shipyard founded in 1838 famed for its construction of submarines. HDW built the first German submarine Brandtaucher in 1850, and is today a subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, the leading German group of shipyards.

In 2005, the GDP per person was €35,618, which is well above the national average of Germanymarker and 159% of the European Union average.

2005 EUROSTAT Nominal GDP per capita
Kiel 35,618 ~$49,866
€24,250 ~$33,950
€27,219 ~$38,107
€22,400 ~$31,360


The Schreventeich (Schreven Lake), which is surrounded by a park and close to the inner city, gave Kiel's neighbourhood Schreventeich its name.
The city districts of Düsternbrook, Schreventeich, Ravensberg, and Blücherplatz are popular places to live with many 19th century buildings, villas, and tree-lined streets. The government offices, ministries and parliament of the state of Schleswig-Holsteinmarker are also mainly based in these neighbourhoods, particularly Düsternbrook. In contrast to the heavy bombing destruction of the central parts of the city during World War II, most of the residential areas have not been severely damaged. Hence, Kiel's more modern-style inner city and Kiel's more historic/elaborate residential areas stand in architectural contrast to one another.

There are plans for large-scale improvement and building efforts for the inner city, providing better pavements, better access to and view of the waterfront and a generally more attractive feel. However, these plans have yet to be implemented in coming years.


Kiel Central Station
Panorama of Kiel Central Station (inside)
Kiel is situated near an important cross-European motorway called Bundesautobahn 7, which connects northern Europe with central and southern Europe.

Kiel has a train stationmarker with trains to Hamburgmarker, Lübeckmarker, Flensburgmarker and to locations in Denmarkmarker such as Copenhagenmarker.

Kiel is a significant port for passenger and cargo shipping from Germany to Scandinavia, the Baltic States, and Russiamarker. Passenger ferries operate from and to Gothenburgmarker in Swedenmarker (Stena Line, 13½ hours, daily), Oslomarker in Norwaymarker (Color Line, 19½ hours, daily), and Klaipėdamarker in Lithuaniamarker (DFDS LISCO, 21 hours, 6 times per week). Cargo ferries operate from and to Saint Petersburgmarker in Russiamarker (DFDS LISCO, twice a week), and Kaliningradmarker in Russiamarker (NSA, once a week).

The nearest international airport is Hamburg Airportmarker, which is situated approximately to the south of Kiel. A special way for transportation in Kiel for students of the university is given at this link[9438] under transportation.

Notable people

Sister towns

Kiel is twinned with:

See also


External links

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