Tübingen, a traditional university town in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, is situated 30 km (19 miles) southwest of Stuttgart, on a ridge between the Neckar and Ammer rivers.
Tübingen itself dates from the 6th or 7th century, when the region was populated by the Alamanni
. There are even some arguments that the Battle of Solicinium
was fought at Spitzberg, a mountain in Tübingen, back in 367 AD, though there is no evidence. The city officially first appears in records in 1191, and the local castle has records back to 1078. By 1231, the city was a civitas
indicating recognition of civil liberties and a court system. Its name ends with the familiar suffix -ingen
, indicating it was originally settled by the Alemanic tribes.
In 1342 Tübingen was purchased by count Ulrich III
and incorporated into the County of Württemberg.
Although it is largely impossible to notice such things today, as recently as the 1950s Tübingen was a very socio-economically divided city, with poor local farmers and tradesman living along the Stadtgraben (City Canal) and students and academics residing around the Alte Aula and the Burse, the old university buildings. There, hanging on the Cottahaus a sign advertises Goethe's stay of a few weeks while visiting his publisher. The German tendency to memorialize every minor presence of its historical greats (comparable to the statement "Washington slept here" in the United States) is parodied on the building next door. This simple building, once a dormitory, features a plain sign with the words "Hier kotzte Goethe" (lit.:"Goethe puked here").
In the second half of the 20th century, Tübingen's administrative area was extended beyond what is now called the "core town" to include several outlying small towns and villages. Most notable among these is Bebenhausen, a village clustered around a castle and Bebenhausen Abbey a Cistercian cloister about 2 miles (3 kilometers) north of Tübingen.
Tübingen functions as the seat of both the administrative district (Kreis
) of Tübingen
and administrative region (Regierungsbezirk
) of Tübingen
the city had 82,885 inhabitants, including approx. 22,000 students. Tübingen is best described as a mixture of old and distinguished academic flair (including liberal politics and German-style fraternities) with rural, agricultural and typical Swabian
elements. The city is home to many picturesque buildings from previous centuries and lies on the river Neckar
, the German weekly magazine Focus
published a national survey according to which Tübingen had the highest quality of life of all cities in Germany. Factors taken into consideration included the infrastructure, the integration of bicycle lanes into the road system, a bus system connecting surrounding hills and valleys, late night services, areas of the town that can be reached on foot, the pedestrianised old town, other amenities and cultural events offered by the university.
Life in the city is dominated by its many students and Tübingen is the city with the youngest average population in Germany.
In central Tübingen, the Neckar river divides briefly into two streams, forming the elongated 1500 meter-long Neckarinsel
(Neckar Island), famous for its Platanenallee
with high plane trees
, some of which are more than 200 years old. Pedestrians can only reach the island via stairs on the narrow ends leading down from two bridges spanning the Neckar. During the summer, the Neckarinsel is occasionally the venue for concerts, plays and literary readings. The row of historical houses across one side of the elongated Neckarinsel
is called the Neckarfront
and includes the house with adjoining tower where poet Friedrich Hölderlin
stayed for the last 36 years of his life as he struggled with mental instability.
Tübingen's Altstadt (old town) survived the Second World War due to the city's lack of heavy industry. The result is a growing domestic tourism business as visitors come to wander through one of the few completely intact historic Altstädte in Germany. The highlights of Tübingen include its crooked cobblestone lanes, narrow-stair alleyways picking their way through the hilly terrain, streets lined with canals and well-maintained traditional half-timbered houses.
Old town landmarks include the Rathaus (City Hall) on Marktplatz (Market Square) and the castle, Schloß Hohentübingen, now part of the University of Tübingen. The central landmark is the Stiftskirche (Collegiate Church). Along with the rest of the city, the Stiftskirche was one of the first to convert to Martin Luther's protestant church. As such, it maintains (and carefully defends) several "Roman Catholic" features, such as patron saints. Below the Rathaus is a quiet, residential street called the Judengasse, the former Jewish neighborhood of Tübingen until the town's Jews were expelled 1477. On the street corner is a plaque commemorating the fate of Tübingen's Jews.
The centre of Tübingen is the site of weekly and seasonal events, including regular market days on the Holzmarkt by the Stiftskirche and the Marktplatz by the Rathaus, an outdoor cinema in winter and summer, festive autumn and Christmas markets and Europe's largest Afro-Brazilian festival.
Students and tourists also come to the Neckar river in the summer to visit beer gardens or go boating in Stocherkähne, the Tübingen equivalent to Oxford and Cambridge punts, only slimmer. A Stocherkahn carries up to 20 people. On the second Thursday of June all Stocherkahn punts take part in a major race, the Stocherkahnrennen.
Tübingen has a notable arts culture as well as nightlife. In addition to the full roster of official and unofficial university events that range from presentations by the university's official poet in residence to parties hosted by the student associations of each faculty, the town can boast of several choirs, theatre companies and nightclubs. Also, Tübingen's Kunsthalle
(art exhibition hall), on the "Wanne", houses two or three exhibits of international note each year.
Famous residents past and present
Famous Tübingen residents include the poet Friedrich Hölderlin
, Alois Alzheimer
from whom Alzheimer's disease
takes its name, Friedrich Miescher
who was the first to discover DNA
, and Wilhelm Schickard
who developed the first mechanical computer, was born in nearby Herrenberg. Hegel
, David Friedrich Strauss
, Eduard Mörike
and Johannes Kepler
studied in Tübingen, and Joseph Alois Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI
) held a chair in dogmatic theology at the University. Hermann Hesse
worked in Tübingen as a bookseller trainee from 1895 to 1899.
Tübingen also is the home of scholars of international renown such as the philosopher Ernst Bloch, the theologian Hans Küng, famous author Walter Jens, as well as Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, a Nobel laureate for medicine. Slovenian refugee Protestant preacher Primoz Trubar published the first two books in the Slovenian language Catechismus and Abecedarium in Tübingen in 1550; Trubar is buried in Derendingen.
Tübingen is also the hometown of former track and field star Dieter Baumann, winner of the 5000m at the 1992 Summer Olympics.
Tübingen is divided into a town core and ten outer districts (suburbs):
¹ census result
Tübingen is twinned
- Monthey, Switzerland, since 1959
- Aix-en-Provence, France, since 1960
- Ann Arbor, USA, since 1965
- Durham, United Kingdom, since 1969
- Aigle, Switzerland, since 1973
- Petrozavodsk, Russia, since 1989
- Perugia, Italy, since 1994
- Villa El Salvador, Peru, since 2006
- Kilchberg, Switzerland, only district of Kilchberg, since 1956
- Kingersheim, France, only district of Hirschau, since 1963
For their commitment to their international partnership, the Council of Europe awarded the Europe Prize to Tübingen and Aix-en-Provence in 1965. The city's dedication to a European understanding is also reflected in the naming of several streets and squares, including the large Europaplatz (Europe Square) outside the railway station.
The Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen dates from 1477, making it one of the oldest in Germany. The city is also host to several research institutes including the Max Planck Institute for Biology, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, The Friedrich Miescher Laboratory of the MPG, and the Hertie-Institute for Clinical Brain Research.
More than 10,000 children and young adults in Tübingen regularly attend school. There are 30 schools in the town, some of which consist of more than one type of school. Of these, 17 are primary schools
while the others are for secondary education
: four schools are of the lowest rank, Hauptschule
, three of the middle rank, Realschule
, and six are Gymnasien
(grammar schools). There also are four vocational schools
) and three special needs schools.
- Freie Aktive Schule Tübingen
- Grundschule Innenstadt / Silcherschule
- Grundschule Weilheim
- Grundschule Hügelstraße
- Französische Schule
- Dorfackerschule Lustnau
- Grundschule Hirschau
- Grundschule Hechinger Eck
- Grundschule auf der Wanne
- Grundschule Aischbach
- Grundschule Winkelwiese / Waldhäuser Ost
- Grundschule Bühl
- Grundschule Kilchberg
- Grundschule Hagelloch
- Grundschule Pfrondorf
- Grundschule Unterjesingen
Vocational schools (Berufsschulen)
- Gewerbliche Schule
- Bildungs- und Technologiezentrum