Historic city center

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A historic town center (also known as the historic town center or, in general, the old town ) is understood to mean either a town center which is valuable in terms of settlement history or monument preservation and which has largely been able to preserve its original structure and townscape through the centuries, e.g. B. the old town of Regensburg

Also reconstructed building ensembles such as the World Heritage part of Warsaw's Old Town , the buildings along the Brühl's Terrace and the Neumarkt in Dresden or rebuilt tradition Islands as the marketplaces of Braunschweig , Frankfurt , Hildesheim and Potsdam , the cathedral square of Freiburg be and surrounding preserved or reconstructed district referred to as historical city centers.

On the basis of the properties of city centers, different city types can be determined according to functions or building types, such as Gothic cities, residential cities, half-timbered cities, garrison cities, Hanseatic cities or spa towns.

Information sign on the historic city center in Germany


Old town of Celle
Old town of Dinkelsbühl

In general, the oldest contiguous parts of a city are referred to as the historical city center, especially in pre- modernist cities (i.e. city centers built before the 20th century). The oldest parts of city districts that later grew together or were incorporated into another city, such as Cölln opposite Alt-Berlin , Spandau in the western part and Alt-Köpenick in the eastern part of Berlin, the Essen district of Kettwig , Frankfurt-Höchst are also referred to as historical city centers , the Lesser Town in Prague or the Buda district of Budapest .

A historic center are also part of suburban cores from post-medieval periods to the early days . The historic city plan with its characteristic townscape (streets, squares, parcels, legible area boundaries) should still be preserved and a historical building fabric that is partially or completely under monument protection should be present. The historic city center is characterized by its public buildings, such as churches, castle , palace , fortress , town hall , granary , patrician house castles with dynasty towers through its city silhouette, the public spaces (squares, streets, green and water areas) and its topography in one Cultural landscape. The appearance in its entirety is also known as the cityscape .

The historic city ​​center is the oldest part in terms of settlement history and is characterized by very dense building structures, mostly winding streets and historical buildings such as half-timbered houses . The historic city center can often be identified on maps by the fact that it is surrounded by streets or places that indicate the existence of a city ​​wall or fortifications (streets with a gate , wall or wall in their name). These features emerged from the medieval cities that were surrounded by fortifications such as ramparts and walls. The rest of the city then usually grew around the enclosed city center.

It often forms the area of ​​the city visited by tourists and shown by residents. Pedestrian zones, strict building regulations and protective regulations try to take this into account. Due to the idea that the historical city center also embodies the city center, this inevitably leads to conflicting goals between economic requirements and conservation efforts. The current trend of building shopping centers outside the historic town center at locations with better transport connections (motorway connection) relieves the historic core of economic pressure, results in a low population density and weakens financial potential.

The term old town serves within historical city centers to delimit city extensions (which are then often called Neustadt ) to an urban area that already existed at the time of the expansion. The term is also used as the official name of administrative units or city districts. Examples are the old town of Königsberg , Salzburg , Frankfurt-Altstadt or the old town of Prague .

Historical city types

Numerous types of urban development can be named in their peculiarity and can still be recognized today in their layout or in growth ( urban history ) based on the core substance ( urban morphology ) that has been preserved .

Residential cities
Schwerin , Saint Petersburg , Vienna , Prague , Edinburgh , Dresden , Imperial City Huế , Würzburg , Potsdam , Neustrelitz , Eichstätt , Bamberg , Karlsruhe , Rastatt , Bückeburg , Mannheim , Wiesbaden , Putbus , Ludwigslust , Stuttgart .
Metropolitan cities
London , Paris , Rome , Berlin , Hamburg , Munich , Cologne .
Castle and castle towns
Eisenach , Stadthagen , Quedlinburg , Burgdorf, Merseburg , Nuremberg , Güstrow , Rheinsberg , Weilburg , Cochem , Carcassonne , Aleppo .
Episcopal cities
Hildesheim , Paderborn , Münster , Minden , Osnabrück , Halberstadt , Naumburg (Saale) . regensburg
Fortified towns
Berlin-Spandau , Koblenz , Dresden , Wolfenbüttel , Herzogenbusch , Jülich , Dömitz , Derbent (Russia), Valletta ( Malta ), Saarlouis .
Hanseatic cities
Lübeck , Bremen , Stade , Danzig , Bergen (Norway), Rostock , Stralsund , Reval , Wismar .
Seaside resorts
Rostock-Warnemünde , Lübeck-Travemünde , Putbus , Swinemünde , Sassnitz .
University cities
Göttingen , Marburg , Greifswald , Tübingen , Heidelberg , Eichstätt , Freiburg im Breisgau , Rostock , Jena , Aachen .
Cities in island location
Venice , Lübeck , Lindau , Stralsund , Werder (Havel) , Malchow or Braunschweig .
Half-timbered towns
Celle , Wetzlar , Barr , Colmar , Freudenberg in Westphalia , Dinkelsbühl , Ribeauvillé , Aschaffenburg , Wolfenbüttel , Hann. Münden , Strasbourg , Neudenau , Mosbach , Riquewihr , Rothenburg ob der Tauber , Alsfeld , Heppenheim , Schiltach , Waiblingen , Seligenstadt , Obernai , Grabow (Elde) , Boizenburg , Röbel / Müritz or Schwäbisch Hall .
Monastery towns
Bad Doberan , Le Mont-Saint-Michel , Stari Ras .
Spa towns
Baden-Baden , Bad Ems , Bad Münder , Bad Tölz , Bad Belzig , Bad Doberan , Bad Mergentheim , Bad Sülze , Karlsbad , Marienbad , Plau am See , Aachen , Waren (Müritz) .
Wine trading towns
Bernkastel-Kues .
Agricultural towns
Wiedenbrück , Wolfsburg - Vorsfelde , Altentreptow .
Mining towns
Goslar , Freiberg , Annaberg-Buchholz .
Satellite cities
Wolfsburg - Detmerode .
Planned cities
Eisenhüttenstadt , Erlangen , Karlsruhe , Putbus , Mannheim as " square city ", Neubrandenburg , Neuruppin , Neustrelitz , Saarlouis , Bielefeld-Sennestadt , Wolfsburg .
Medina cities
Essaouira , Fez , Marrakech , Meknes , Tétouan , Kairouan , Sousse and Tunis .
Caravan towns
Ouadane , Chinguetti , Tichitt and Oualata in Mauritania .

Cities with a historic city center


In 2007, Germany's preservationists listed 843 historic city centers with special monument significance. In Germany, seven historic city centers are recognized as World Heritage by UNESCO , including Regensburg , Bamberg , Goslar , Quedlinburg , Lübeck , Stralsund and Wismar . In addition, individual buildings or quarters in historic city centers have been recognized as World Heritage by UNESCO : Berlin Museum Island , Luther memorials in Wittenberg and Eisleben , Roman buildings and churches in Trier .

Water art on the market square in Wismar

In Germany, municipalities with a historic city center are supported by the urban monument protection program as part of urban development funding. In Brandenburg there is the working group “Cities with historic city centers” . On June 9, 2010, the then Federal Minister Peter Ramsauer informed the members of the Bundestag Committee for Transport, Building and Urban Development that the federal funds for urban development should be reduced by 50% in the subsequent federal budgets - the amount of urban monument protection would be 50 million euros per year affected. These funds are usually increased by the federal states, municipalities and funding institutions to double to triple the amount in addition to the project, which is then also omitted. The chairman of the German Foundation for Monument Protection, Gottfried Kiesow , warned of deforestation in a press release. “The halving of the program funds for urban development funding announced by Federal Minister Ramsauer is a mistake. The cut endangers the preservation of our cultural heritage ”.

Areas formerly belonging to the German Reich

The old town of Treptow an der Rega - today Trzebiatów in Poland

Many cities in the eastern regions of the German Reich were destroyed by bombings or as a result of sieges during World War II. B. Königsberg , Danzig (extensively rebuilt), Breslau , Gleiwitz and Stettin . Historic city centers also have other cities formerly in German-speaking areas of the Holy Roman Empire , such as Krumau ( Český Krumlov , Czech Republic ) or Strasbourg ( France ). However, some town centers have been preserved and restored. In 1997 the medieval old town of Toruń ( Toruń in Poland) was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Salzburg old town
Linz main square - the
old town begins on the left

Particularly noteworthy are the cities whose city centers are UNESCO World Heritage Sites : Graz (residential center), Salzburg (residential center) and Vienna ( inner city and ring road ). On the other hand, most of the other provincial capitals (e.g. Linz or Innsbruck ) also have an excellently preserved historic city center.

Smaller cities with historic city centers have merged to form the Small Historic Cities . The following cities currently belong to this association:

Baden , Bad Ischl , Bad Radkersburg , Enns , Feldkirch , Freistadt , Gmünd in Carinthia , Hall in Tirol , Imst , Judenburg , Kufstein , Lienz , Mödling , Radstadt , Rust , Schärding , Spittal , Steyr , Weiz , Wels , Zell am See


Bern and the Aare

All historical city centers of places are listed in the inventory of Swiss places worthy of protection (ISOS) and sorted according to place pictures of local, regional and national importance.

The old town of Bern and Bellinzona are UNESCO World Heritage Sites . Other cities and main towns with a historic city center: Aarau , Baden , Basel ( old town Grossbasel and old town Kleinbasel ), Biel / Bienne , Chur , Delsberg , Freiburg , Geneva , Glarus , Lausanne , La Chaux-de-Fonds , Liestal , Lugano , Lucerne , Neuchâtel , Rapperswil , Sarnen , Schaffhausen , Schwyz , Sion , Solothurn , St. Gallen , Stans , Thun , Winterthur , Zug and Zurich .


Particularly noteworthy is the city whose city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site: Luxemburg (City) (Luxembourg Old Town). Smaller towns or villages with historic town centers are also included, such as Echternach , Vianden , Burglinster , Esch-Sauer , Ehnen .

Other countries

See also


  • Wilfried Ehbrecht: Old Town . In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages (LexMA). Volume 1, Artemis & Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1980, ISBN 3-7608-8901-8 , Sp. 494-496.
  • Uwe Kieling, Gerd Priese (Ed.): Historic city centers. Cities under monument protection . 1st edition. VEB Tourist Verlag, Berlin and Leipzig 1989, ISBN 3-350-00288-9 .
  • Michael Kaiser (Red.): The legacy of the world. The most fascinating cultural and natural monuments on earth. According to the UNESCO Convention . Kunth, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-933405-96-3
  • Karl Kühn: The beautiful old town. Your protection, your conversion, your traffic improvement. A study for the practical evaluation of the knowledge of the nature of the old city . Ernst & Sohn, Berlin 1932 ( digitized version ).
  • Association of State Monument Preservators in the Federal Republic of Germany: inventory of the historic city centers from 2006 .

Web links

Commons : Old Towns  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Old Town  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Press release by the chairman of the German Foundation for Monument Protection, Gottfried Kiesow, on the planned cuts in funding for the protection of urban monuments ( memento from January 19, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  2. Reduction yes - deforestation no - Professor Dr. Gottfried Kiesow, CEO of the German Foundation for Monument Protection mp3 stream, from June 24, 2010
  3. Small Historic Towns , accessed December 29, 2012.