The former capital before the fall of The Wall, reunification, and a governmental move back to Berlin. Our first, short visit in the city was in early December of 1991, when we lived in Göttingen for eine jahr; ein and Zwanzig jahren später, we spent 5 months at the Steinmann Institute of Paläontologie near Schloss Poppelsdorfer (around which the Botanical Gardens are planted and the Universität Mineralogische Museum is located).
Bonn is the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven, born on 16 December 1770, and the city continues to celebrate his contributions to western civilizations cultural heritage. After Ludwig turned 5, the family moved from this home to Rhine Street, in the house of a local baker. He became fascinated with the flow of the river demonstrating, early, his rare ability to focus intently on something of interest. Beethoven apparently possessed a volatile temper which was manifested in a variety of attitudes towards daily life. Beethoven moved to Vienna when he was only 17 and composed a wealth of musical compositions, today celebrated each year during Beethovenfest with venues scheduled across the city. His birth home is now a museum and the Foundation that oversees the structure also maintains the MusikKammer, located next door, where both amateurs and professionals perform on a continual basis. We’ve witnessed both commanding and not-so commanding (think tenor saxophone and spoken performance) evenings in this venue.
This summer home, only a few kilometers from Bonn’s Altstadt, was built by the Elector Joseph Clemens, with the foundation stone laid in 1715. It wasn’t until 1752, though, that the Rococo-style castle was completed. The final structure is considered a well designed building that surrounds a round arcade court with a quad of four wings. Since 1818, the Schloss and surrounding park has been a part of Bonn Universität, housing both scientific collections and the departments of Mineralogie and Ecologie, and acting as the center for scientific botany. Highlights of the castle’s public collections are the “Mineralogisches Museum” and the “Botanical Gardens.”
The Botanischer Garten Bonn not only exhibit native outdoor plants of Central Germany and western Europe, but also maintains an arboretum and plant collections from around the world, maintained in 10 glass houses. The gardens consist of 6.5 hectares of land open to the public, 3 hectares for the use of university faculty, and a hothouse complex of 2500 m² where more than 8000 plant taxa are cultivated here. These include tropical plants, tree ferns, mangroves, water lilies, cacti, and orchids growing in 9 connected buildings assembled in natural associations.
The gardens, dating originally to 1340, acted as the landscape for the castle grounds of the Archbishop of Cologne. These were renewed in about 1650 into a Renaissance-style garden and, subsequenlty as a Baroque garden in 1720. By 1900 the garden was second only to Berlin’s within Germany, but was destroyed during WWII. Reconstruction commenced shortly after the end of the war, when Bonn became the new capital city, and was completed in 1979-1984 with the construction of two conservatories. This structure has been maintained until today.
Haribo–an acronym for Hans Riegel, Bonn–was founded in 1920 by Hans Riegel Sr. and Bonn made the first gummi candy in 1922, the trademark Gummi Bear. Following WWI, Haribo expanded its operations and acquired many local sweet manufacturers in countries all over the world. Today, the company is one of the biggest manufacturers of gummi and jelly sweets in the world, with its product line consisting of Gummi Bears, other jelly sweets and liquorice. To meet global demand, the company has 5 factories in Germany and 13 throughout Europe.
Haribo’s German marketing slogan is “Haribo macht Kinder froh – und Erwachsene ebenso” which, translated, means “Haribo makes children happy – and adults as well.” In the English- speaking countries, the company uses the slogan “Kids and grown-ups love it so – the happy world of Haribo.” The factory outlet store in Bad Godesburg (above) offers a full selection of the company’s products in large quantities at reduced price. The outlet store is always filled with adults and children, stocking up on their favorite sweet treat.
The Kunstmuseum Bonn enjoys am unique position in Germany’s museum landscape. It houses the largest collection of August Macke (1887-1914) and has continued to acquire a collection that is unparalleled in the country of post-war artists. What makes their strategy unique is that the Board of Trustees has concentrated on a number of eminent artists from whom they purchase their entire group of works and ensembles. The museum also has focused on the acquisition of photographic and media-based art, and the interfaces between these media.
The building, designed by Axel Schultes, consists of an interior with open, flowing space that allows for viewing of the installations without visual interference. This includes both the Classical Modern to the wide variety of the most recent art placed on exhibition. It took nearly 6 years to complete the building, and was constructed as part of Bonn’s developing Museum Mile.
The museum’s galleries exhibit the most significant artistic trends and cutting-edge innovations of the modern German art community, without any one stylistic direction emphasized in exhibition space. The curator’s principle is to highlight the diversity of artistic approaches now being undertaken in the country, with each artist provided entire rooms in which to display their work. In this way, artists’ perspectives can be presented in an exciting, instructive, and entertaining interplay of placement and experimentation.
Public transportation and its infrastructure are well developed in the country, although German punctuality no longer can be counted upon when traveling by bahn. The Deutsche Bahn is the German national railway company, a private joint-stock company (AG) with the federal government, with its headquarters now in Berlin. Until 1994, the rail system in Western Germany was the Deutsche Bundesbahn of West Germany with its headquarters in Frankfurt am Main. The move to Berlin occurred after reunification. Bonn is one of the principal Bahn hubs, with many of the North-South traveling trains passing through the city. Several years ago when DB was considering the development of a new high speed railway for the ICE, Bonn was bypassed and the new line was constructed on the eastern side of the Rhine in Siegeburg. Deutsche Bahn, the S-Bahn (surface trams), the U-Bahn (underground metro trams/trains), and the Bus Bahn are the most efficient and best way to travel in the city and throughout the country.
The Siegengebirge, the range of seven mountains along the eastern shore of the Rhine River near Koningswinter, is a highly deformed sequence of Miocene intrusive and extrusive volcanic activity. The Siebengebirge consists of numerous volcanic necks of basanite, alkaline basalt, latite, and trachyte formed in response to intraplate volcanism from the late Oligocene to the early Pliocene. What once was considered to be an enigmatic volcaniclastic succession, locally termed Trachyttuff, now is believed to emplacement by sublacustrine volcanic eruptions. The Siebengebirge volcanic field forms part of an East–West-trending belt of Tertiary–Quaternary volcanics in central Germany, striking perpendicular to the main NNE–SSW-trending Rhine graben rift system. The rift system developed in response to Alpine tectonism farther south, and the Siebengebirge volcanic field consists mainly of deeply eroded volcanic plugs and necks. Locally, remnants of lava flows occur. There are extensive hiking trails (Wanderen) through the mountains where you can experience spectacular views of the Rhine valley as well as witness the area’s geologic history.