Eyewitness: Kiel – Germany’s Gate to the Baltic?

Kiel is a German port city and capital of Germany’s most northern state Schleswig-Holstein. Originally founded in 1233 it became a member of the Hanseatic League soon after. However, it was expelled in the 16th century as the city was accused of harbouring pirates.

From the late 18th century until 1864 Kiel was part of Denmark. Towards the end of the century the city experienced its heyday. Its population grew tenfold and it became home first to the Prussian, and later the German Baltic fleet.  In 1910 the city was blooming and was predicted to be Germany’s fastest growing city, which is reflected in its transportation infrastructure that is still visible until the present day. But the First World War put an end to those aspirations…

A fountain outside of what used to be the castle – © Anna-Cara Keim

… and this is the rebuild castle, that does however, not resemble the original – © Anna-Cara Keim

During the Second World War the entire city centre was destroyed and the reconstruction in the 1960s did little justice to the original. Kiel remained important for the German ship building industry and much of the German Navy has been based there until today. Yet, the past years of economic downturn have seen the closure of many long established shipyards.

Nevertheless, Kiel still enjoys an important status as sailing city with a number of international competitions and events, among them the prestigious Kieler Woche, being held every year. After all the city hosted the Olympic Games in 1972…

Sailing boats in Düsternbrook – © Anna-Cara Keim

Kiel Firth – © Anna-Cara Keim

Looking at Kiel today one can be confident that this is a city that never ceases to reinvent itself. With numerous ferry connections to destinations in virtually every country on the Baltic rim it can still defend its position as Germany’s main gate to the Baltic Sea!

Signs for the ferry terminals in Kiel – © Anna-Cara Keim

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