The history of Kiel


Siegel auf der Schatulle der Gründungsurkunde. Standort: Landesarchiv Schleswig-HolsteinBetween the years 1233 and 1242 Kiel was originally founded by count Adolf IV of Holstein, probably based on an existing merchant's settlement. Being surrounded by the Danish (Schleswig) and Slavic kingdom, Kiel was the only region giving access to the Baltic Sea. Kiel became the northernmost city of the Holy Roman Empire (HRE).

The original name was Holstenstadt Tom Kyle. Over time the name changed to Kiel. The semantic origin cannot be determined reliably but is probably based on the meaning "the fjord, a bay or a lagoon reaching deeply into flat land".

1283/84 Kiel became part of the Hanseatic League (confederation of merchant guilds and their market towns with commercial and defensive aims)

Because of the sovereign influence, Kiel lost his Hanseatic status in 1544. Because of the same reason, Kiel was never able to use the Hanseatic advantages for itself. Hence, the Kieler Umschlag, was much more important. The Kieler Umschlag is one week in July, which was conducted to do business with people from all over the country. Afterwards, a big folk festival was being held. The Kieler Umschlag is still taking place nowadays, usually at the end of February, although in a much smaller scale.

In 1460 Kiel became part of the Danish kingdom.

In 1665 Duke Christian Albrecht founded Kiel University, the northernmost university of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

During the 17th and 18th century several conflicts arose, like the conflict with the Russian Tsar family of Peter III. This almost led to a war, but Peter III. died and his widow in 1773 committed the remaining dukedom of Gottorf to the Danish kingdom.

 As the HRE had fallen in 1806, Kiel became Danish until it had been under control of Sweden due to the Napoleon wars (1813). In 1815 it finally became part of the German-Confederation (but ruled by the Danish King).

A war for independency with the Danish king in 1848 was not successful. Almost 20 years later, in 1864 Schleswig-Holstein was conquered by Prussia and Austria.

In 1871 Kiel became the main naval port of the German Confederation.

In 1882 the first original Kiel Week took place, as a ships parade, regatta and folk festival.

In 1895 the Kiel Canal ("Emperor Wilhelm Canal") was opened, which very fast became the most frequented man-made waterway of the world. Kiel was growing very fast thanks to its ship and military industry.

After the second WW Kiel became part of the British occupation zone. In 1946 Kiel was released from Prussia and today's Schleswig-Holstein (SH) was founded. In 1949 it became the capital of SH, which then became an official state of the Federal Republic of Germany.

In 1985 the tramway in Kiel was dismissed but some old tracks can still be found throughout the city.

In 1936 and 1972 Kiel was scene of the sail challenges of the Olympic summer games.


Wikipedia (Eng.)

Wikipedia (Ger.)


Photo: Kiel University ("Landesarchiv" Schleswig-Holstein)