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)


The city of Kiel


Kiel WappenToday, Kiel is the capitol city of Schleswig-Holstein, one of 16 federal states of Germany, with a population of over 240,000. It is the northernmost large city and represents one end of the Kiel Canal. Traditionally, Kiel still is an important naval port and possesses several important dockyards (ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, former HDW). Furthermore, it is much known for the Kiel Week, widely the world's largest sailing event and also one of the largest folk festivals in germany.

Of course, the port in the middle of the city, situated alongside the central station, shapes the picture of Kiel. With over 1.8 Million passengers (Statista, 2015), Kiel Port is the 5th biggest port of Germany in respect to passenger carrying. Along the bay a high number of ferry stations makes it possible to visit plenty of different marvelous beaches or bay spots. 

In Kiel a high density of education and research institutes is given. Some among others are listed below:

  • Kiel University
  • University of Applied Sciences
  • Muthesius Art College
  • Wirtschaftsakademie Schleswig-Holstein (dual course of studies)
  • German National Library of Economics (ZBW)
  • Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW)
  • Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR)


Kiel University


Kiel University is Germany's northernmost state university and the scientific center of Schleswig-Holstein. More than 24,000 students learn their trade at our institutes. About 2,000 scholars teach and do research in one of our eight faculties. They educate students in 185 degree programs and approximately 80 different areas. Founding members of Kiel University in 1665 were the faculties of:

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Theology
  • Law
  • Medicine


Since then, four additional faculties have been established:

  • Mathematics and Natural Sciences
  • Business, Economics and Social Sciences
  • Engineering
  • Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences


With its clinic, the university is one of the biggest employers in the region. It sees itself as a modern state university of interconnecting academic cultures.

Further information about research topics and provided services

As a state institution, Kiel University has a special responsibility: It offers students from Schleswig-Holstein a broad range of subjects so they can study in state. Contributing to this are the bachelor and master programs, which are available in almost all disciplines. They are designed to make it easier for international students to get their degrees accepted. Various international Summer Schools invite future students to get to know their area of interest or to join supervised studies.

Kiel's geographical location by the ocean is the basis for the wide-ranging and internationally recognized marine research carried out here. The Cluster of Excellence ► »The Future Ocean« is the field of work for about 200 scientists. Anyone working in the area of Life Sciences today will know Kiel University. An outstanding collaborative project within this research focus is the Cluster of Excellence ► »Inflammation at Interfaces«. As many as 200 scientists want to deepen their understanding of chronic inflammations triggered by disturbances on the interfaces of organs such as skin or mucous membranes.

The Graduate School ► »Human Development in Landscapes« which is part of the social science research focus "Societal, Environmental and Cultural Change" trains excellent young scientists in collaboration with the Natural and Medical Sciences. The Baltic Sea is a topic central to numerous areas in the Arts and Humanities. The scientific focus "Northern and Eastern Europe" deals in an interdisciplinary manner with cultures of the Baltic Sea area, including legal and social systems, language and history.

»Nano Science and Surface Research« is carried out at the highest level by members of both the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and the Faculty of Engineering. Scientists from Nano Science, Materials Science and Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Bionics, Electrical and Information Engineering, Computer Science, and other medical disciplines along with partners from all over northern Germany are striving to analyse how microscopic elements function and may be regulated.

Being "family friendly" is a high priority at Kiel University. The parents among the students and employees might be interested to know that the university was certified as family friendly in 2002 for the first time through the nation-wide "audit familiengerechte hochschule" by berufundfamilie gGmbH. Last year, Kiel University was awarded the certificate for the fourth time. The university is constantly working to make it easier for students with small children to keep their schedules. In order to draw qualified employers, the university tries to establish a family friendly work policy. As a recognised partner of top level sports, Kiel University supports its ambitious sports students so that they can manage both - elite sports such as beach volleyball or sailing, and their studies.

Please visit the homepage of Kiel University if you are interested in more details

Kiel, the student's city


The city of Kiel and Kiel University are offering advantages for students:



  • Broad spectrum of libraries
  • Several canteens, small restaurants, snack bars, coffee shops and bars situated everywhere, throughout the university and surounding areas
  • Large university sports program



  • Relatively cheap accommodation and livelihood
  • Low university semester enrollment costs
  • A lot of student related discounts (bars, clubs, etc.)
  • Very good accessibility of all important places, especially by bike (we strongly advise you to buy or borrow one; selling it at the end of your stay typically is not a problem)
  • A great offer of water sports
  • High amount of parks, bay spots and beaches
  • Node for travelling


Nightlife and Events

  • High density of bars
  • Kiel Week
  • High amount of parks, hence outdoor events and "hot spots"
  • Christmas markets (mulled wine) and ice rink each year in the winter term
  • High amount of student parties, organized by student groups and accompaied by student mottoes



Attractions of Kiel


Kiel offers a lot of interesting places to be. Some of them are shown in the following.

Kieler Förde (Fjord of Kiel)

The fjord of Kiel is very special, since it is a very drawn-out one; the official length is given at 17 km. The city has developed around it, offering now a lot of places being worth visiting. Beginning at the "Hörn" (end of the port), a lot of sailing ships, both modern small ones but also very old and big ones (i.e. 4 masts ship) and also big and high cruise liners are shaping the picture of the city. Here, a lot of small bars and restaurants are situated, making a stay possible both in summer and in winter.

The "Kiellinie" is a very lovely and lively promenade along the fjord, where a high variety of bars have been established and ports for sailing boats and yachts can be visited. Walking along this promenade you can marvel at the dockyards of Kiel, the town's landmark. You will find the GEOMAR Aquarium where you can watch seals playing around or the "Landtag" (state parliament building) with an excellent canteen and provided tours. You can access one of the many ferries at the ferry stations and visit the other side or just make a nice trip cruising through the fjord. This promenade is surrounded by parks, greenfields and mansion districts. It is ideal for walking, jogging, skating, sailing, rowing, etc.

Rathausplatz (town hall square)

Besides being a place for administrative issues,  the town hall and the town hall square are beautiful places of Kiel. Surrounded by the "Hiroshima Park" and the "Kleiner Kiel" (lagoon), a pretty and calm location in the center of the city is given. The tower reaches 106 meters, being enlightened the whole year. It has a platform for visitors at 67 meters, thus offering a beautiful view over the town and its port. The opera of Kiel is located here, too.

During Kiel Week an international market is taking place, where you can buy dishes, drinks, accessories etc. of different countries from all over the world, enjoying country-specific (live) music and atmosphere. At winter time, a big tent is setup on the space for ice-skating, surrounded by the booths of the Christmas market.

Greenfield and parks

Kiel offers a lot of greenfield and lagoons through the whole city, some of them are listed below:

  • "Schrevenpark" and "Schreventeich" (booth)

This is the place to be and meat for students and people in the spring and summer time. Besides being a perfect place for chilling, barbecuing, sunbathing and light sports, several open airs are held here through the year.

  • Hiroshima Park

This park is also surrounded by little lakes and ponds, giving a nice view on the town hall and being in the center of Kiel, directly next to the party mile of Kiel

  • "Schlossgarten"
Located next to "Kiel castle" (restaurants, concerts, events, fairs) and the zoological museum (2 minutes away from the Kiel Linie).


  • Greenfields at the Kieler Linie and next to the parliament building.


Beaches and and the Sea

See section ....

Kiel Kanal (Wik-Canal)

The Kiel Canal is a very important part of Kiel due to its economical importance but is also an emblem of the city. After the Panama Canal and the Suez Canal it is the most frequented maritime canal in the world.

You can visit the watergate facilities and its exposition, or the platform over the new watergates. An insider tip is also to walk on the "Holtenauer Hochbrücke", (an high bridge (42m) directly in front of the watergates). Especially at night, when its dark and the town is under lights, the view is breathtaking.


A 4,200 square meters sized, triangular water expanse with a swimming pontoon in the center of the town. Here you will find a real casino, the Hofbräuhaus (charming tavern with typical German or Bavarian dishes, beer, music and atmosphere), restaurants and coffee bars. Through the whole summer, each weekend free trial open air concerts are taking place.

The Kiel region


Due to its location Kiel is very suited for travelling. The following very interesting places can be visited with short travelling time and often very low costs. Especially the bus travelling offers can be very cheap by either providing student fares or due to early booking.

Recommended places to visit:

  • Hamburg
  • Berlin (e.g. Meinfernbus or Flixbus)
  • Lübeck
  • Flensburg
  • Sylt (or other locations on the Baltic or North Sea shores)
  • St. Peter Ording


Places being further away can still be reached under very good conditions e.g. on weekends, since Deutsche Bahn has several special offers in the field of regional passenger travel. Different kinds of group tickets exist, valid for the whole day and an arbitrary amount of rides/trains in respect to the area of validity, where the total price depends on the number of people.

E.g.: You can travel with 5 people through whole Germany, using almost every regional passenger train for approx. 60 Euros.

Deutsche Bahn is also providing special offers for ICE (InterCityExpress), mostly on rarely booked traveling times. Early booking makes even a visit of Munich e.g. while Oktoberfest possible (7 hours traveling time, approx. 30€ price)


Of course, Kiel is predestinated for travelling through the North of Europe, like Denmark, Norway or Sweden. A high amount of cruise liners are leaving Kiel in these directions. Sometimes special offers under relatively low cost conditions can be found on the Internet.