Kiel (German: [ˈkiːl] ( listen)) is the capital and most
populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with
a population of 249,023 (2016).
Kiel lies approximately 90 kilometres (56 mi) north of Hamburg.
Due to its geographic location in the north of Germany, the southeast
Jutland peninsula and the southwestern shore of the Baltic Sea,
Kiel has become one of the major maritime centres of Germany. For
instance, the city is known for a variety of international sailing
events, including the annual
Kiel Week, which is the biggest sailing
event in the world. The Olympic sailing competitions of the 1936 and
the 1972 Summer Olympics were held in Bay of Kiel.
Kiel has also been one of the traditional homes of the German Navy's
Baltic fleet, and continues to be a major high-tech shipbuilding
centre. Located in
Kiel is the GEOMAR - Helmholtz Centre for Ocean
Kiel at the University of Kiel.
Kiel is an important sea
transport hub, thanks to its location on the
Kiel Fjord (Kieler
Förde) and the busiest artificial waterway in the world,
(Nord-Ostsee-Kanal). A number of passenger ferries to Sweden, Norway,
Russia and other countries operate from here. Moreover, today Kiel
Harbour is an important port of call for cruise ships touring the
Kiel's recorded history began in the 13th century. Until 1864 it was
Denmark in personal union. In 1866 the city was
annexed by Prussia and in 1871 it became part of Germany.
Kiel was one of the founding cities of original European Green Capital
Award in 2006. In 2005 Kiel's
GDP per capita was €35,618, which
is well above Germany's national average, and 159% of the European
Germany and parts of Europe, the city is known for its leading
handball team, THW Kiel. The city is home to the University of Kiel
(established in 1665).
1.1 Middle Ages
1.2 Modern times
2.3 Main sights
4 Education and scientific research
5 Economy and infrastructure
5.2 Notable companies
6 Notable people
6.1 Up to 1800
6.2 1800 to 1850
6.3 1850 to 1900
6.4 1900 to 1910
6.5 1910 to 1920
6.6 1920 to 1950
6.7 since 1950
7 International relations
7.1 Twin towns – sister cities
8 See also
10 External links
Kiel Fjord was probably first settled by
Vikings who wanted
to colonise the land which they had raided, and for many years they
settled in German villages. This is evidenced by the geography and
architecture of the fjord. The city of
Kiel was founded in 1233 as
Holstenstadt tom Kyle by Count Adolf IV of Holstein, and granted
Lübeck city rights in 1242 by Adolf's eldest son, John I of
Schauenburg. Being a part of Holstein,
Kiel belonged to the Holy Roman
Empire and was situated only a few kilometres south of the Danish
Kiel in the 16th century
Kiel, the capital of the county (later duchy) of Holstein, was a
member of the
Hanseatic League from 1284 until it was expelled in 1518
for harbouring pirates. In 1431, the Kieler Umschlag (trade fair) was
first held, which became the central market for goods and money in
Schleswig-Holstein, until it began to lose significance from 1850 on,
being held for the last time in 1900, until recently, when it has been
University of Kiel
University of Kiel was founded on 29 September 1665 by Christian
Albert, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp. A number of important scholars,
including Theodor Mommsen, Felix Jacoby,
Hans Geiger and Max Planck,
studied or taught there.
Kiel Fjord at the Baltic Coast.
Kiel Opera House and the tower (107 m) of
Kiel Town Hall.
From 1773 to 1864, the town belonged to the king of Denmark. However,
because the king ruled
Holstein as a fief of the Holy Roman Empire
only through a personal union, the town was not incorporated as part
Denmark proper. Thus
Kiel belonged to Germany, but it was ruled by
the Danish king. Even though the empire was abolished in 1806, the
Danish king continued to rule
Kiel only through his position as Duke
of Holstein, which became a member of the
German Confederation in
Holstein rebelled against
Denmark in 1848
Kiel became the capital of
Schleswig-Holstein until the Danish victory in 1850.
During the Second
Schleswig War in 1864,
Kiel and the rest of the
Holstein were conquered by a German
Confederation alliance of the
Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of
Prussia. After the war,
Kiel was briefly administered by both the
Austrians and the Prussians, but the
Austro-Prussian War in 1866 led
to the formation of the Province of
Schleswig-Holstein and the
Kiel by Prussia in 1867. On 24 March 1865 King William I
Baltic Sea fleet in
Kiel instead of Danzig (Gdańsk).
The Imperial shipyard
Kiel was established in 1867 in the town.
When William I of Prussia became Emperor William I of the German
Empire in 1871, he designated
Reichskriegshäfen ("Imperial War Harbours"). The prestigious Kiel
Yacht Club was established in 1887 with Prince Henry of Prussia as its
patron. Emperor Wilhelm II became its commodore in 1891.
Because of its new role as Germany's main naval base,
quickly increased in size in the following years, from 18,770 in 1864
to about 200,000 in 1910. Much of the old town centre and other
surroundings were levelled and redeveloped to provide for the growing
Kiel tramway network, opened in 1881, had been enlarged to
10 lines, with a total route length of 40 km (25 mi), before
the end of the First World War.
Kiel was the site of the sailors' mutiny which sparked the German
Revolution in late 1918. Just before the end of the First World War,
the German fleet stationed at
Kiel was ordered to be sent out on a
last great battle with the Royal Navy. The sailors, who thought of
this as a suicide mission which would have no effect on the outcome of
the war, decided they had nothing to lose and refused to leave the
safety of the port. The sailors' actions and the lack of response of
the government to them, fuelled by an increasingly critical view of
the Kaiser, sparked a revolution which caused the abolition of the
monarchy and the creation of the Weimar Republic.
1902, double-postcard panorama of
Kiel from across the
During the Second World War,
Kiel remained one of the major naval
bases and shipbuilding centres of the German Reich. There was also a
slave labour camp for the local industry. Because of its status as
a naval port and as production site for submarines,
Kiel was heavily
bombed by the Allies during the Second World War. The bombing
destroyed more than 80% of the remaining old town, 72% of the central
residential areas, and 83% of the industrial areas. During the RAF
bombing of 23/24 July 1944, Luftwaffe fighters tried to intercept the
spoof (i.e. decoy) force instead of the main force attacking Kiel,
and there was no water for three days; trains and buses did not run
for eight days and there was no gas available for cooking for three
weeks. There were several bombing raids of the port area during
the period 20 February – 20 April 1945 which successfully eliminated
many U-Boats, and the few large warships (cruisers Hipper, Scheer, and
Koln) still afloat at that time. Although the town was beyond the
stop-line set for the western Allies in the German surrender at
Lüneburg Heath, it and its port, its scientists, and the canal were
seized by a British
T-Force led by Major Tony Hibbert on 5 May
1945. This forestalled capture of the town by the Soviets,
whom the Allies expected to advance from
violation of the Yalta agreement.
Just like other heavily bombed German cities, the city was rebuilt
after the war. In 1946,
Kiel was named the seat of government for
Schleswig-Holstein, and it officially became the state's capital in
Kiel is once again an important maritime centre of Germany,
with high-tech shipbuilding, submarine construction and one of the
three leading institutions in the field of marine sciences in Europe,
the IFM-GEOMAR. Regular ferries to
Scandinavia and Lithuania, as well
as the largest sailing event in the world called the
Kiel Week (Kieler
Woche) in German and The
Kiel Regatta in English. The Kieler Umschlag
is another festival, which has been taking place again since 1975.
Kiel is also home to a large service sector and a number of research
institutions including the University of Kiel, which is the oldest,
largest, and most prestigious university in the state.
Kiel has an oceanic climate (Cfb in the Koeppen climate
Climate data for Kiel
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average rainfall mm (inches)
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm)
Average relative humidity (%)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source: DWD; wetterkontor.de; ; 
Image showing the population density of
Kiel by district. Data from
The city districts of Düsternbrook, Schreventeich, Ravensberg and
Blücherplatz are popular places to live with many 19th century
buildings, villas and tree-lined streets. The government offices,
ministries and parliament of the state of
Schleswig-Holstein are also
mainly based in these neighbourhoods, particularly Düsternbrook. In
contrast to the heavy bomb damage inflicted on the central parts of
the city during the Second World War, most of the residential areas
were not severely damaged. Hence, Kiel's more modern-style inner city
and Kiel's more historic/elaborate residential areas stand in
architectural contrast to one another.
There are plans for large-scale improvement and building efforts for
the inner city, providing better pavements, better access to and view
of the waterfront, and a generally more attractive feel to the place.
These plans, most notably the "Kleiner
Kiel Kanal", a restoration of a
historic canal that was filled in to make place for road
infrastructure, are to be implemented in the next few years.
Geistkämpfer in front of the Nikolaikirche, by Ernst Barlach
Kiel Opera House and the Town Hall (Kieler Rathaus)
The oldest building in the city is the 13th century Nikolaikirche
(Kiel) (de) (St Nicholas' Church), which has a sculpture by Ernst
Barlach in front of it called Geistkämpfer.
Kiel is Schleswig-Holstein's largest city, and therefore Kiel's
shopping district is a major attraction, and will see further
improvement and renovation efforts in the upcoming years. Kiel's
Holstenstraße (Holsten Street) is one of the longest shopping streets
in Germany. The Rathaus (town hall), which was built in 1911, has an
operating paternoster and the design of its tower was based on one in
Venice. The square in front of it is bordered by a lake and the Opera
House. There are also a number of lakes and parks in the city centre,
e.g. Schrevenpark (Schreven Park). There are two botanical gardens,
the Old Botanical Garden and New Botanical Garden.
Kiel is situated near the sea, the beaches to the north of Kiel
such as Strande, Kiel-Schilksee,
Laboe are also popular
places to visit in spring and summer.
Kiel Week, more properly known in English as
Kiel Regatta, is the
largest sailing event in the world and takes place every year in the
last full week in June. Many thousands of boats and ships of all kinds
and eras take part in the parade.
Kiel Week is also a festival,
Volksfest and fair as well as a maritime event. There are a number of
yachting and sailing clubs in picturesque settings.
Kiel also features a number of museums, including zoological,
geological, historical, fine art, industrial and military museums.
Notable is the Stadt- und Schifffahrtsmuseum Warleberger Hof (City and
Maritime Museum), which belongs to the association museen am meer. In
addition to preserving architecture from the 16th century and historic
rooms with painted stucco ceilings, it displays urban and cultural
exhibits of the 19th and 20th centuries. Particularly intriguing
is the history of the carnival in Kiel.
Laboe is home to the Laboe
Naval Memorial, as well as the
Second World War
Second World War submarine U-995, which
are popular tourist sites.
Kiel 1917 (Willy Lucas (de))
Special issue stamp
Kiel Week 1982
Historic ships at
Old Botanical Garden, Kiel
There are a number of sports venues in Kiel, most notably the
Sparkassen-Arena (formerly known as
Baltic Sea Hall or Ostseehalle),
which is the home ground of one of the most successful team handball
clubs in the world and multiple German champion, THW Kiel. There is
Bundesliga football club in Kiel, but 2.
Kiel plays at Holstein-Stadion.
Education and scientific research
University of Kiel
University of Kiel (German: Christian-Albrechts-Universität),
which was founded by Duke Christian Albrecht in 1665, is with round
about 25.000 students the only full university of Schleswig-Holstein.
Independent, but partly linked to the University
Kiel are other
research facilities such as the German National Library of Economics
– Leibniz Informationcenter for Economy, the
Kiel Institute for the
World Economy, the
GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and
the research institute of the
Bundeswehr for water sound and
geophysics. Besides these there are other educational institutions
such as the
Fachhochschule Kiel (founded in 1969) and the Muthesius
School of Arts (founded in 1907). The projects Murmann School of
Global Management and Economics and Multimedia Campus
successful at last. The Wirtschaftsakademie
besides advanced training at the Berfusakademie dual study courses for
economists, business information specialists and industrial engineers.
Noteworthy as departmental research institute is the federal institute
for dairy research which was merged into the Max-Rubner-Institut
together with other institutions in 2004. The state capital
Kiel is a
corporative sponsoring member of the
Max Planck Society.
ARGE-SH as eldest building research institution of the republic of
Germany has its headquarters in Kiel.
There are twelve Gymnasiums in Kiel, of which the Kieler
Gelehrtenschule, founded in 1320 as a humanistic gymnasium, is the
oldest. Other secondary schools are amongst others the Gymnasium
Elmschenhagen and the Max-Planck-Schule with a focus on natural
sciences and the Ricarda-Huch-Schule with a focus on languages.
Furthermore there are many comprehensive schools – partially with
secondary schools – all over the city area and private schools, too.
Economy and infrastructure
The Holstenstraße is one of the longest shopping streets in Germany
Kiel is the largest city in the state of Schleswig-Holstein.
Kiel's economy is dominated by the service sector, transport and
Kiel is also one of the major ports of the German
Navy, and a leading centre of German high-tech military and civil
Kiel is the home of Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft, a
shipyard founded in 1838 famed for its construction of submarines. HDW
built the first German submarine
Brandtaucher in 1850, and is today a
subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, the leading German group of
In 2005, the
GDP per person was €35,618, which is well above the
national average of
Germany and 159% of the
European Union average.
GDP per capita
Some of the most notable companies having branches or their
ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems
ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (through their subsidiary
Engineering and industrial machinery
Caterpillar Inc. (through their subsidiary MaK)
Kiel is also home to several insurances and banks, most notably the
HSH Nordbank, Provinzial NordWest, Förde Sparkasse, Kieler Volksbank
eG and Evangelischen Bank eG.
There is also an active startup scene in
Kiel with startup accelerator
StarterKitchen and startups like SciEngines GmbH, Real-Eyes, myBoo,
SealMedia, Cliplister, Druckpreis.DE, promotionbasis.de, Yoosello,
GetAnEdge, Flowy Apps, fraguru, lokalportal, PianoMotion and ubique
Kiel is home to several media companies, including a branch of the
Norddeutscher Rundfunk producing one radio channel and several local
programmes in Kiel, a station of the British Forces Broadcasting
Service, the daily newspaper
Kieler Nachrichten and several smaller
local radio channels and magazines.
Kiel is situated near an important pan-European motorway, the A7,
which connects northern Europe with central and southern Europe.
Kiel has a central railway station with hourly trains to Hamburg,
Lübeck, Flensburg, and to Husum. Moreover, the Intercity Express
Kiel with Berlin, Frankfurt,
Cologne and Munich.
Kiel has public transport through the local company KVG, providing bus
service within the city, Autokraft and Verkehrsbetriebe Kreis Plön
providing regional bus service, and the Schlepp- und Fährgesellschaft
Kiel, providing public transport on the fjord with ferries.
Kiel also has 8 regional railway stations within the city
proper, which are connected with each other, the main railway
Kiel Hbf and other stations by regional trains, which can be
used within the boundaries of the city with a normal bus ticket.
Kiel is a significant port for passenger and cargo shipping from
Germany to Scandinavia, the
Baltic States and Russia. Passenger
ferries operate to and from
Sweden (Stena Line, 13½
Norway (Color Line, 19½ hours, daily), and
Lithuania (DFDS Lisco, 21 hours, 6 times per week). Cargo
ferries operate from and to
Saint Petersburg in
Russia (DFDS Lisco,
twice a week), and
Russia (NSA, once a week).
The nearest international airport is
Hamburg Airport, which is
situated approximately 90 kilometres (56 mi) to the south of
Kiel. There is a shuttle bus service (KIELIUS) operating between
Hamburg Airport and
Kiel central railway station. There is also an
airport at Lübeck.
Peter III of
Max Planck (1858–1947), physicist
Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker
Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (1912–2007)
Heike Henkel, high jumper
Up to 1800
Peter III of
Russia (1728–1762) emperor of
Russia  for six
months in 1762
Johannes Nikolaus Tetens
Johannes Nikolaus Tetens (1736–1807), German-Danish philosopher and
Karl Leonhard Reinhold
Karl Leonhard Reinhold (1757–1823), an Austrian philosopher 
Johan Ludwig Gebhard Lund (1777–1867), Danish painter, adherent of
romanticism, known for his history paintings
Carl Loewe (1796–1869), German composer,  tenor singer and
Gustav Adolf Michaelis
Gustav Adolf Michaelis (1798–1848), obstetrician and physician
1800 to 1850
August Howaldt (1809–1889), founder of Howaldtswerke
Friedrich Wilhelm Hermann Delffs
Friedrich Wilhelm Hermann Delffs (1812–1894), chemist
Henri Lehmann (1814–1882), German-born French historical painter and
Adolf Michaelis (1835–1910) German classical scholar, a professor of
Robert Michaelis von Olshausen
Robert Michaelis von Olshausen (1835–1915) German obstetrician 
August Mau (1840–1909) German art historian and archaeologist
August Leskien (1840–1916), German linguist,  active in
Detlev von Liliencron
Detlev von Liliencron (1844–1909), German lyric poet  and
Hermann Graedener (1844–1929) German composer, conductor and teacher
1850 to 1900
Ferdinand Tönnies (1855–1936), sociologist, philosopher
Kuno Francke (1855–1930), was a US educator and historian at Harvard
Friedrich Ferdinand of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
(1855–1934) was the fourth Duke of
Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and became Duke of
Schleswig-Holstein in 1931
Eduard Schwartz (1858–1940) German classical philologist, wrote
about the second Catilinarian conspiracy
Max Planck (1858–1947), German theoretical physicist whose work on
quantum mechanics won him the
Nobel Prize in Physics
Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918
Johannes Weiss (1863–1914) German Protestant theologian and Biblical
Ernst Steinitz (1871–1928), mathematician, wrote on projective
Hans Geiger (1882–1945), physicist, co-invented the Geiger–Müller
Counter in 1928
Hans Anton Aschenborn (1888–1931) animal painter of African wildlife
Paul Werner Wenneker (1890–1979) German admiral and diplomat
Carl Zuckmayer (1896–1977), writer and playwright
Bruno Diekmann (1897–1982), German politician (SPD),
Karl Ristenpart (1900–1967) German conductor
Ernst Busch (1900–1980), actor, writer & collector of songs
1900 to 1910
Rudolf Hell (1901–2002), inventor, invented the Hellschreiber
Kurt Otto Friedrichs
Kurt Otto Friedrichs (1901–1982) German American mathematician,
worked on partial differential equations
Ernst von Salomon (1902–1972), national-revolutionary German writer
Eduard Wald (1905–1978) a Communist politician, trade unionist and
member of the
German Resistance against Nazism
Walther Müller (1905–1979), physicist, co-invented the
Geiger–Müller Counter 1928
Heinrich Heesch (1906–1995), mathematician, worked on Group theory
Helmut Lemke (1907–1990),
Minister-President of Schleswig-Holstein
Harro Schulze-Boysen (1909–1942), Resistance fighter
Herbert Schultze (1909–1987), German
U-boat (submarine) commander
Klaus Wittkugel (1910–1985) commercial and poster artist in the GDR
Lauritz Lauritzen (1910–1980) German SPD politician
1910 to 1920
Erna Flegel (1911–2006), nurse in the Führerbunker
Elisabeth von Janota-Bzowski (1912–2012) German graphic artist known
for her postage stamps designs
Karl Hass (1912–2004) German Lieutenant-Colonel in the SS
Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker
Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (1912–2007), physicist, philosopher
Hermann Michel (1912–1984?), SS officer
Otto Kretschmer (1912–1998),
Joachim Hamann (1913–1945), Baltic-German Nazi SS officer
Heinrich Wöhlk (1913–1991), German optometrist, invented the
plastic contact lens
Sigrid Hunke (1913–1999), author, made claims of Muslim influence
over Western values
Heinrich Springer (1914–2007), Waffen-SS knights cross winner
Eberhard Blum (1919–2003), fourth head of the German Federal
1920 to 1950
Shimon Wincelberg (1924–2004) American television writer and
Judith Malina (1926–2015), German-born American actress
Elyakim Haetzni (born 1926), Israeli lawyer and former member of the
Ulric Gustav Neisser (1928–2012) German-born American psychologist
and member of the US National Academy of Sciences
Oswalt Kolle (1928–2010), German sex educator
Gerhard Stoltenberg (1928–2001), politician (CDU), minister and
Heiner Zieschang (1936–2004), mathematician, was a topologist
Heiko Braak (born 1937) German anatomist, contributed to the
Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease
Ilse Gramatzki (born 1939) German operatic mezzo-soprano and contralto
Eric Braeden (born 1941), German-American film and television actor
Dieter Laser (born 1942), actor
Marina Lewycka (born 1946), British novelist of Ukrainian origin
Manfred Stahnke (born 1951), German composer, writes chamber music,
orchestral and stage music, uses microtonality
Duchess Donata of Mecklenburg (born 1956) is the senior remaining
member of the House of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Anke Ehlers (born 1957) German psychologist, expert in post traumatic
Andreas Brandstätter (1959–2006) German diplomat
Ilme Schlichting (born 1960) biophysicist studied biomolecules using
Thilo Martinho (Thilo Herrmann) (born 1960), German musician, singer,
guitarist and songwriter
Michael F. Feldkamp
Michael F. Feldkamp (born 1962), German historian and journalist
Feridun Zaimoglu (born 1964), author and playwright
Detlev Bork (born 1967), classical and flamenco guitarist
Tomma Abts (born 1967), painter and
Turner Prize winner
Cora E. (Sylvia Macco) (born 1968), a former nurse turned hip-hop
Gesche Joost (born 1974) German design researcher, e.g. on
Kim Dotcom (born 1974), German-Finnish Internet entrepreneur,
businessman, musician in Auckland, New Zealand
Ulrich Schnauss (born 1977), German electronic musician and producer
Lasse Rempe-Gillen (born 1978) German mathematician, interests include
function theory, continuum theory and computational complexity theory
George Eyser (1870–1919) German-American gymnast who competed in the
1904 Summer Olympics
Alfred Brinckmann (1891–1967), chess
International Master and author
Heinrich Dahlinger (1922–2008), field handball player
Manfred Rulffs (1935–2007) German rower who competed in the 1960
Eckart Johannes Wagner (1938–2002) German sailor, competed in the
1960, 1964, and the 1968 Summer Olympics
Egon Müller (born 1948), motorcycle speedway rider
Andreas Köpke (born 1962), footballer, mainly for 1. FC Nurnberg
Heike Henkel (born 1964), won the high jump gold medal at the 1992
Francisco Copado (born 1974), footballer, mainly for SpVgg
Britta Carlson (born 1978), footballer, capped 31 times for the
Germany women's national football team
Sidney Sam (born 1988), footballer, mainly for Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Angelique Kerber (born 1988), former world No. 1 in women's singles
tennis by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA)
See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Poland
Twin towns – sister cities
Kiel is twinned with:
United Kingdom (1947)
San Francisco, USA (2017)
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Places adjacent to Kiel
Baltic Sea, Århus
Baltic Sea, Schönberg, Laboe, Copenhagen
Fehmarn island, Oldenburg in Holstein
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Capitals of states of the Federal Republic of Germany
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1 Unlike the mono-city states
Berlin and Hamburg, the State of Bremen
consists of two cities, thus state and capital are not identical.
Germany by population
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Antwerp gained importance once
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