City (pop., 2002 est.: 271,276), capital of Hesse, southern Germany. It is situated on the Rhine River. The Romans fortified it in the 1st century AD; it has been noted since then for its hot saline springs. Made an imperial city in 1241, it passed to the counts of Nassau in 1255. It was capital of the duchy of Nassau from 1806 to 1866, when it passed to Prussia. After World War I it was the seat of the Rhineland Commission under French and British occupation (1918–29). In 1946 Wiesbaden became the capital of the newly created state of Hesse. It was particularly noted for its spa in the 18th and 19th centuries, when it was frequented by Johann W. von Goethe, Johannes Brahms, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It continues to be a popular resort. It has printing firms, publishing houses, and film studios, and it is noted for its Sekt (sparkling wine).
Learn more about Wiesbaden with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Wiesbaden, a city in southwest Germany, is the capital of the state of Hesse. The city is on the right, northern, bank of the river Rhine. It lies opposite the city of Mainz on the other side of the river, and is near Frankfurt am Main. Wiesbaden has about 300,400 inhabitants, plus approximately 35,000 U.S. citizens (mostly associated with the American military). The city is also in the Rhein Metropolitan Area together with Frankfurt and Mainz, with a combined population of about 5.8 million people.
Evidence of settlements at Wiesbaden date back to the neolithic era. Historical records document continuous occupancy after the erection of a Roman fort in the year 6. The thermal springs of Wiesbaden were first mentioned in Pliny the Elder's Naturalis Historia. The Roman settlement is first mentioned using the name, Aquae Mattiacorum (Latin for "Waters of the Mattiaci"), in 121. This name refers to the Chattian tribe of the Mattiaci (German: "Mattiaker"), who were living in this area at the time. The town also appears as Mattiacum in Ptolemy (2.10).
The Alamanni captured the fort c. 260. Later, in the 370s, when the Romans and Alamanni were allied, the Alamanni gained control of the Wiesbaden area and were in charge of its defense against other Germanic tribes.
During the 6th century, the Franks displaced the Alamanni. In the 8th century the Franks built a royal yard ("Königshof", "curtis regia"). Sometime between 828 and 830, Einhard mentions "Wisabada". This is the first time that the name, Wiesbaden, is documented.
In the 1170s the Counts of Nassau received the area around Wiesbaden as a fiefdom. They governed until in 1242 the Archbishop of Mainz conquered Wiesbaden and burnt it down. Wiesbaden returned to the house of Nassau in 1270. In 1329 the house of Nassau and thereby, Wiesbaden, received the right of coinage from Louis the Bavarian.
Due to its participation in the uprisings of the Peasants' War Wiesbaden lost all its privileges in 1525 for over forty years. During this time, Wiesbaden built a new vineyard in 1526, became Protestant with the nomination of Wolf Denthener as first Lutheran pastor on January 1, 1543. The same day the first Latin school was opened, preparing pupils for the gymnasium in Idstein. In 1566 the privileges of the city were restored.
The oldest remaining building of the town, the old city hall, was built during 1609 to 1610. No older buildings are preserved due to two fires in 1547 and 1561.
In 1815 the capital of Nassau was moved to Wiesbaden, and the city became the ducal residence. Building activity started in order to give the city a magnificent appearance. Most of the historical centre of Wiesbaden dates back to this time. In the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Nassau decided to take Austria's side. This decision led to the end of the duchy: After the Austrian defeat Nassau was annexed by Prussia and became part of the Prussian Hesse-Nassau. The deposed duke Adolph of Nassau in 1890 became Grand-Duke of Luxemburg (see "House of Nassau").
Wiesbaden was the Headquarters for Germany’s Wehrkreis XII. This military district included The Eifel, part of Hesse, the Palatinate and the Saarland. After the Battle of France, this Wehrkreis was extended to include Lorraine including Nancy and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The commander was General der Infanterie Walter Schroth.
Bereich Hauptsitz Koblenz was the headquarters for 12 Unterregion-Hauptsitze, namely Trier I, Trier II, Koblenz, Neuwied, Kreuznach, Wiesbaden, Limburg an der Lahn, Lahn, Mainz, Worms, Darmstadt and Luxemburg.
Bereich Hauptsitz Mannheim was the headquarters for 10 Unterregion-Hauptsitze, namely Saarlautern, Saarbrucken, St. Wendel, Zweibrucken, Kaiserslautern, Neustadt (Weinstrasse), Ludwigshafen (Rhein), Mannheim I, Mannheim II and Heidelberg.
Wiesbaden was captured by U.S. Army forces on 28 March 1945. The U.S. 317th Infantry Regiment attacked in assault boats across the Rhine from Mainz while the 319th Infantry attacked across the Main River near Hochheim. The attack started at 0100 and by early afternoon the two forces of the 80th U.S.Infantry Division had linked up with the loss of only three dead and three missing. The Americans captured 900 German soldiers and a warehouse full of 4,000 cases of champagne.
After World War II, the state of Hesse was established (see Greater Hesse), and Wiesbaden became its capital, though nearby Frankfurt am Main is much larger and contains many Hessian government offices. Wiesbaden however suffered much less than Frankfurt from air bombing. There is a constant rumour that the U.S. Army Air Force spared the town due to its scheduled function as a postwar HQ, but recent research from USAAF sources has shown this to be a myth. Wiesbaden's economic and strategic importance simply did not justify more bombing. Wiesbaden was host to the Headquarters, U.S. Air Forces, Europe based at the former Lindsey Air Station from 1953 to 1973.
American armed forces have been present in Wiesbaden since World War II. The U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division is still headquartered at the Wiesbaden Army Airfield, just off the Autobahn toward Frankfurt. Smaller supporting American kasernes and housing areas are scattered around the city. More Americans are moving in from bases scheduled to be closed such as Darmstadt and Heidelberg.
The Schlossplatz ("palace square") is situated in the center of the city. There are two outstanding buildings on this square: the ducal palace and the new town hall. The palace was built by Duke Wilhelm of Nassau in 1840. For the twenty-six remaining years of ducal authority it was the residence of the ruling family. Today the building serves as Landtag (parliamentary building) for the federal state of Hesse. The new town hall replaced the old one in 1887. (The old town hall, built in 1610, is the oldest preserved building of the city and now is used as a civil registry office.) Engraved in the paving in front of the town hall are the heraldic eagle of the Holy Roman Empire, the lion of Nassau, and the lilies of Wiesbaden.
The Protestant Marktkirche ("market church") was built during 1852 to 1862 in a neo-Gothic style. Its western steeple is 92 m (302 ft) in height, being the highest building of the city. Another building from the regency of Duke Wilhelm is the Luisenplatz, a square named for the Duke's first wife. It is surrounded by Neoclassicist buildings, and in the middle of the square is the Waterloo Obelisk, commemorating the Nassauers who died in the wars against Napoleon. The monumental Kurhaus ("spa house") (now containing a casino) and the Hessian state theater are from the time of Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Apart from the palace in the center, the ducal family had a large palace on the banks of the Rhine, known as Schloss Biebrich. This baroque building was erected in the first half of the 18th century.
One of the three Hessian state museums, Museum Wiesbaden is located in Wiesbaden.
|October 10, 1926||Biebrich|
|October 10, 1926||Schierstein|
|October 10, 1926||Sonnenberg|
|April 10, 1928||Bierstadt|
|April 10, 1928||Dotzheim|
|April 10, 1928||Erbenheim|
|April 10, 1928||Frauenstein|
|April 10, 1928||Heßloch|
|April 10, 1928||Igstadt|
|April 10, 1928||Kloppenheim|
|April 10, 1928||Wiesbaden-Rambach|
|August 10(11), 1945||Mainz-Amöneburg ¹|
|August 10, 1945||Mainz-Kastel ¹|
|August 10, 1945||Mainz-Kostheim ¹|
|January 1, 1977||Auringen|
|January 1, 1977||Breckenheim|
|January 1, 1977||Delkenheim|
|January 1, 1977||Medenbach|
|January 1, 1977||Naurod|
|January 1, 1977||Nordenstadt|
|June 16, 1925||102,737|
|June 16, 1933||159,755|
|May 17, 1939 ¹||191,955|
|September 13, 1950 ¹||220,741|
|June 6, 1961 ¹||253,300|
|May 27, 1970 ¹||250,122|
|June 30, 1975||251,400|
|June 30, 1980||273,700|
|June 30, 1985||267,000|
|May 27, 1987 ¹||251,871|
|June 30, 1997||267,700|
|January 1, 2002||271,076|
|September 30, 2005||274,865|
Notable people born in Wiesbaden include painter Maria Vasilievna Yakunchikova-Weber, American tennis star John McEnroe (who was born on a U.S. military base at Wiesbaden), F1 driver Nico Rosberg, German film director Volker Schlöndorff, German product designer Dieter Rams, former head of design for Braun, and founder of Anheuser-Busch, Adolphus Busch (born in Mainz-Kastel). Peter Hanenberger an automotive specialist for General Motors and previous chairman for Australian car giant, Holden was also born here.
Priscilla Presley (Beaulieu at the time) lived in Wiesbaden with her parents (her father was an Air Force Officer stationed here). It was here that she met Elvis Presley - she was 14 years old at the time, Elvis was 24.
U.S. President John F. Kennedy visited Wiesbaden during a stay in Germany in June 1963.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter visited one of the U.S. military installations in Wiesbaden in July 1978.
During a visit to Germany U.S. President George W. Bush and Mrs. Bush made a stop in Wiesbaden on Feb. 23rd 2005 to talk to U.S. troops (U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division).
Mainz, on the opposite side of the Rhine river, is Wiesbaden's archrival — the two cities are the capitals of their respective Bundesländer, and citizens of both cities jokingly refer to those on the other one as "living on the wrong side of the river".
In fictional 1983 American television movie The Day After, Wiesbaden was the first city to be destroyed by a nuclear weapon during the escalating war between NATO and Warsaw Pact forces that eventually leads to a full scale nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Wiesbaden's main railway station and several minor railway stops connect the town with Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Mainz, Limburg and Koblenz via Rüdesheim. Train services to most locations outside the immediate area connect through Frankfurt. Local train and bus services are coordinated by the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund. Wiesbaden is connected to the Cologne-Frankfurt high-speed rail line by a 13-kilometer branch line. The A66, A671 and A643 autobahn highways directly service Wiesbaden, connecting to the nearby A3, A60 and A61. The nearest airport is Frankfurt International Airport and discount airline flights are available at Frankfurt-Hahn Airport around an hour's drive to the southwest. There are small container port operations nearby on the Rhine and Main rivers.