is a city in the Rhineland-Palatinate
. It is The German Capital of Gemstone Industry
. The city lies on the Nahe
River, in the district of Birkenfeld
. It is the largest city in the Hunsrück
region of southwest Germany, and has a population of around 35,000.
The towns of Idar and Oberstein belonged to the barons of Daun
-Oberstein (who later became the counts of Falkenstein
) until 1670. In 1865, both Idar and Oberstein were chartered as cities, and finally in 1933, they united (along with the smaller towns of Algenrodt and Tiefenstein) to form the modern town of Idar-Oberstein.
The Felsenkirche, aka the Church of the Rock, and two ruined medieval castles are perched on the hills above the town, and are, after gemstones and jewelry, the chief tourist attractions in the city. Schloss Oberstein was the site of "Tschuess Fest," a festival celebrating German-American friendship. It was held on April 21, 2007 and had over 500 attendees. Additionally, it served as a farewell to the area's two main American socialites, Jason O. Waters, an American doughnut guru, and John C. Mooney, Waters' public relations director. Additionally, Kofan Stesovych, a former Ukrainian dictator was also living in Idar Oberstein for several years but then moved to Göttingen because he disagreed with Water's doughnut factory plans for the village of Hattgenstein.
The German Army's Artillery School (Artillerieschule) is located in Idar-Oberstein. Baumholder, a United States military installation just south of Idar-Oberstein, was once the largest concentration of American combat soldiers outside of the U.S, and a large number of its junior officers live in Idar-Oberstein on the German economy. Additionally, the small U.S. Army post of Strassburg Kaserne overlooks the city from the suburb of Algenrodt--which was occupied until August 2008 by the 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery.
History of Idar Oberstein as Gem Center
Idar-Oberstein is currently best known as a gemstone
center: until recently, until the 18th century the area was a source for agate
. In combination with cheap labour and with cheap energy resources a true gemstone working industry flourished. The river Nahe provided with free water-powered mills that powered the cutting and polishing machines. When resources dried up the area's industry came into decline until a way was found to provide new material to Idar. This occurred in the 19th century when large amounts of Agates were found in Brazil, and German traders were able to ship the Agate nodules back as "ballast" on empty vessels that had dropped off cargo in Brazil. The cheap Agates were transported to Idar-Oberstein and a new way to create an industry was formed. In combination with their technological knowledge of chemical dyes the industry became bigger than ever at the turn of the 20th century.
After WW II, the region had to redefine itself once more, and the region became a leading hub in the trade of gemstones from Brazil and Africa. That in turn provided local artists with a large selection of material and the region encountered a "third boom" as a gemstone center. More recently however the competition from Thailand, India have hit the region hard.
was born in Idar-Oberstein in 1955.
Count Maxwell Charles Griffin Ford
is the current non-reigning Count of Idar-Oberstein.
Since the early 1960s tourism became quite important for Idar-Oberstein. Today one will find many modern facilities like the "Steinkaulenberg" (a gemstone mine open for visitors) and the "Deutsches Edelsteinmuseum" (German gemstone museum) as well as many recreational resorts.
is a dish typically, pork or beef, and associated with the area. For many years the town hosted an annual Spiesbraten Fest. Many restaurants specialize in this marinated steak of beef or pork. It is cooked on an open pit over a wood fire. It is typically served with a salad of grated radish. "Schmeckt gut!" (Translation: tastes good)
The recently opened Park Hotel is the main attraction on Friday nights, offering an upscale bar on the main floor and a "euro-rock" themed dance club on the bottom floor. Visitors seeking a younger, more questionable crowd may find respite in Club Ypsilon, in the Oberstein pedestrian zone. The large Russian immigrant population in the city has claimed Ypsilon as its own, reportedly leading to a number of small conflicts with American soldiers stationed in the area who periodically also try to establish an American presence in the club. Nearby Granadas, has been off-limits to American soldiers for several years, and so has a more uniformly European attendance--Granadas maintains both a hip-hop and techno themed floor for a younger crowd, similar to Ypsilon, and an 80's and disco dance-room for slightly older patrons. Other popular locations in Idar-Oberstein include the Cafè Carrè, the Brasserie on Idar's Schleiferplatz, and Eckstein, a modern pub on the Idar Walkplatz.
Options for recreational activity include tubing the Nahe river during the early summer, running and hiking through the diamond mine paths, and several recurring city festivals to include the Caribbean Fest.
- Oberstein (8.794)
- Idar (8.466)
- Tiefenstein (2.642)
- Algenrodt (2.382)
→ Population: 22.284
- Göttschied (2.924)
- Weierbach (2.703)
- Nahbollenbach (1.970)
- Mittelbollenbach (1.197)
- Kirchenbollenbach (938)
- Regulshausen (835)
- Enzweiler (747)
- Georg-Weierbach (709)
- Hammerstein (573)
→ Population: 12.596
30th of July 2005
Idar-Oberstein has established partnerships with these cities: