|• Lord Mayor||Dr. Johannes Bruns (SPD)|
|• Total||86.34 km2 (33.34 sq mi)|
|Elevation||216 m (709 ft)|
|• Density||380/km2 (1,000/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)|
Mühlhausen (official German long version Mühlhausen/Thüringen) is a city in Thuringia, Germany. It is the capital of the Unstrut-Hainich district in the north-west of Thuringia, situated only 5 km (3 miles) north of Germany's accurate geographical centre (in the neighbouring municipality of Niederdorla) as well as 50 km (31 miles) NW of Erfurt, 65 km (40 miles) E of Kassel and 50 km (31 miles) SE of Göttingen.
Mühlhausen was first mentioned in 967 and became one of the most important cities in central Germany during the later Middle Ages. In the early 13th century, it became a free imperial city, so that is was an independent and republican self-ruled member of the Holy Roman Empire, controlling an area of approx. 220 square kilometres (85 sq mi) and 19 regional villages. Due to its long-distance trade, Mühlhausen was prosperous and influential with a population of 10,000 around 1500, that was the second-largest in Thuringia after Erfurt, today's capital. Because it was spared from later destruction, Mühlhausen hosts a great variety of historical buildings today with one of the biggest remaining medieval city centres in Germany, covering a surface of more than 50 hectares within the inner city wall and approx. 200 hectares within the non-remained outer city wall. There are 11 Gothic churches, several patrician's houses and a nearly complete preserved fortification (walls, towers etc.) as main sights.
Famous people from and in Mühlhausen were Johann Sebastian Bach, who worked as the city's organist from 1707 until 1708, the theologian Thomas Müntzer, a leading person in the German Peasants' War, John A. Roebling, the Mühlhausen-born constructor of the Brooklyn Bridge and Friedrich August Stüler, an influential architect in mid-19th century Prussia, who was also born in Mühlhausen.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography and demographics
- 3 Culture, sights and cityscape
- 4 Economy and infrastructure
- 5 Politics
- 6 Notable people
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Within the north-eastern parts of the city centre around St. George's Church, wide archaeological finds have been made. They belong to a bigger settlement of the Thuringii/Francia period (6th until early 10th century), which can be seen as the origin of the later city. Mühlhausen itself was first mentioned in 967 and belonged to the Reichsgut ab initio, that means that there was no other territorial lord than the German emperor and the area wasn't its own property, so that it didn't went to his son after dead but to his successor on the emperor's throne, even if he was from another house. The emperors had a Kaiserpfalz in Mühlhausen, which was often visited by them from Otto III until Henry VI during the 10th, 11th and 12th century. The election of Philip of Swabia in 1198 was finished with the homage in Mühlhausen, which was also visited by Walther von der Vogelweide.
In 1135, Mühlhausen was first mentioned a villa which can be seen as the beginning of the evolution from a settlement to a city. During the early 12th century, the old town was set up around the Untermarkt along the Hessenweg, an important trade route between the Kassel and the Erfurt region. In early 13th century, the new town north of Schwemmnotte river followed with a regular grid around St. Mary's church and Obermarkt with Steinweg as main street. The Teutonic Knights got St. Blaise's Church in 1227 and St. Mary's Church in 1243 from the emperor, which ensured them influence in the city and high revenues. The biggest monastery of Mühlhausen was the 1227-founded Brückenkloster at Magdalenenweg, a Magdalenians monastery. It held large estates in the region and its buildings was demolished in 1884. The Franciscans came to the city in 1225 and built their monastery around today's Corn Market Church and the Dominicans established in 1289 near Steinweg; their church was demolished after a fire in 1689, only some walls remained. Jews lived in Mühlhausen at least since the late 13th century; the Jüdenstraße runs parallel to the Steinweg within the new town. During the Black Death Jewish persecutions in 1349, many Mühlhausen Jews were killed.
In mid-13th century, the citizens emancipated more and more from the emperor's rule, for example Conrad IV had to concede the established wall between the city and the empire's court and later in 13th century, the citizens destroyed the court. The Mühlhausen Law Book (1224) is the oldest book of law in German language and regulated the legal law of the city. In 1308/09, Mühlhausen allied with Erfurt and Nordhausen against the Wettins, who tried to get this three major Thuringian cities under their rule. The alliance lasted nearly 200 years and was successful. Since 1348, Mühlhausen does't had to pay taxes to the emperor anymore, so that its independence was completely fulfilled. The three cities pursued an own territorial policy (e. g. by buying castles) to save their trade routes against robbery, which brought them constantly into conflict with local counts. Another aspect of the territorial policy was buying land and villages around the city, which was achieved by every opportunity, for example if the local rulers (counts, monasteries etc.) needed money. Mühlhausen bought 19 still existing and 43 later abandoned villages and 220 km2 (85 sq mi) around in this way, covering the north-western part of today's Unstrut-Hainich district. The villages had to pay taxes to Mühlhausen and were secured by the Mühlhausian Landwehr, a moat of 24 km (15 mi) length with several towers ("Warte") to observe the region.
The economic heyday between mid-13th and early 16th century was caused by long-distance trade with textiles, woad and other goods. In 1430, Mühlhausen joined the Hanseatic League together with its allies Erfurt and Nordhausen.
Early modern period
The Reformation brought some disturbance to Mühlhausen. The monk and peasant leader Heinrich Pfeiffer from Reifenstein Abbey preached at St. Mary's in February 1523 for the first time, followed by Thomas Müntzer in August 1524. Both had not only religious demands (they were members of the Anabaptist movement) but also political ones, aimed against the privileges of the magistracies and their oligarchy rule over the city. During the German Peasants' War 1524/25, the city's monasteries were looted and the Bildersturm devastated the churches. As the emperor's army defeated the uprising, Müntzer, Pfeiffer and other leaders were executed. Furthermore, the city had to pay a fine of 40,000 guilders to the empire and lost parts of its independence, because the Hessians and both lines of the Wettins (Ernestines and Albertines) were appointed to control the city government. As distinct from this three rulers, Mühlhausen remained catholic and became a secret member of the Nuremberg League, an alliance of catholic estates in the empire, founded in 1538. After the three rulers realized that in 1542, the Reformation was introduced by force in Mühlhausen by Justus Menius. The Schmalkaldic War with the defeat of the Hessians and the Ernestines against the emperor in 1547 gave the city its independence back in parts, in foreign policy it had to coordinate with the Albertines and it had to pay taxes to the empire. Since 1710, Kurhannover was Mühlhausen's protecting power.
Johann Sebastian Bach was organist of the church Divi Blasii from 1707 until 1708. Among the works Bach composed while living in the town was an elaborate, festive cantata, Gott ist mein König, BWV 71, for the inauguration of the new council in 1708.
Internal dissensions and injuries received during the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) and the Seven Years' War (1756–1763) reduced Mühlhausen to unimportance, also because the trade decreased and the finances of the city were bankrupted. The German mediatization led to the formal loss (that had actually occurred earlier) of Mühlhausen's independence in 1802, as the city became part of Prussia. During the Napoleonic Wars it was part of the Kingdom of Westphalia from 1807 until 1815, as it became part of Prussia again according to the decisions of the Congress of Vienna.
After 1815, Mühlhausen was part of the Prussian Province of Saxony, where the Mühlhausen district was established. Since 1892, Mühlhausen was an independent city district. In 1831, the Mühlhausen born civil engineer John A. Roebling, constructor of the Brooklyn Bridge, emigrated to the United States. The era of industrialisation and urbanisation reached Mühlhausen relatively late, around 1870, as the city got connected to the railway by a line from Gotha to Leinefelde. In 1898, the municipal power station was founded and the tramway network started its operation in Mühlhausen. Main businesses were the textile and the engineering branch.
Between 1910 and 1917, the povincial hospital of Pfafferode was built on the western city edge, one of the biggest hospitals in the Prussian Province of Saxony. The Great Depression after 1929 hit Mühlhausen very hard and led to massive unemployment. In 1935, the Nazi armament campaign was carried out in Mühlhausen by building a big military base with several barracks with the deliberate side effect of fostering the city's weak economy. The synagogue was damaged during the Kristallnacht in 1938, but as one of only few in Germany, it wasn't completely destroyed and remained until today. At the Pfafferode hospital, nearly 2,000 patients were killed or died during the Nazi period (Action T4), most of them were mentally or physically disabled. From 1944 to March 1945, a women's forced labour camp was directly outside Mühlhausen (a branch of the Buchenwald camp), producing arms. The women were deported in April 1945 to Bergen Belsen. The US Army came to Mühlhausen on 4 April 1945, the city was peacefully committed. On 5 July 1945, the Soviet Army took the city, which became part of the GDR in 1949.
In 1975, at the 450th obit of Thomas Müntzer, the city was officially renamed in Thomas-Müntzer-Stadt Mühlhausen. Müntzer and the German Peasants' War received big attention from the GDR government and historians; they called the complex Frühbürgerliche Revolution (early bourgeois revolution) and included it to their Marxist conception of history. Many exhibitions were set up (including some of the museums in Mühlhausen and the famous Bauernkriegspanorama near Bad Frankenhausen) and events took place. After the German reunification, the attention on Müntzer and the Peasants' War ceased, the city name was annulled in 1991.
After the reunification, many factories in Mühlhausen got closed, leading to another deep economic crisis with high unemployment rates during the 1990s and early 2000s. On the other hand, the city's precious architectural heritage was rediscovered and the restoration of the historic city centre began.
Geography and demographics
Mühlhausen is situated in the flat landscape of the Thuringian Basin, a very fertile area covering the northern centre of Thuringia at an elevation of approx. 215 metres of heigh. To the north and west, the terrain gets hilly, whereas to the south and east are situated wide agricultural areas, same as on most of the municipal territory. Furthermore, there are two forests within the territory: the Stadtwald (as part of the Hainich) in the west and the Mühlhäuser Hardt between the Windeberg district and Menteroda. Both are broadleaf forests with beeches as prevalent trees. The Hainich mountains south-west of Mühlhausen became Thuringia's only National Park in 1997 because of their old near-natural beech forests. The highest hills within the Mühlhausen terrain reach approx. 400 m of elevation. The main river crossing the city is the Unstrut in northwest-southeast direction. Furthermore, there are many small tributaries running from the western hills through Mühlhausen to the Unstrut like the Schwemmnotte, which is dividing the inner city.
Germany's accurate geographical centre is located only 5 km (3 mi) south of the city in the neighbouring municipality of Niederdorla, where a monument can be found at this point.
With an annual precipitation of only 570 millimeters (22 in), the climate in Mühlhausen is relatively dry, compared to other regions in Germany.
Mühlhausen abuts the following municipalities (all of them are part of the Unstrut-Hainich district): Anrode, Unstruttal and Menteroda in the north, Obermehler, Körner and Weinbergen in the east, Vogtei in the south and Rodeberg in the west. Towards Ammern (part of Unstruttal) is no interruption within the build-up area, the Ruhrstraße forms an urban municipal border here.
The city itself involves in addition to the core town the following villages (number of inhabitants at 2011-12-31):
- Felchta (801 inhabitants, incorporated in 1994)
- Görmar (991 inhabitants, 1994)
- Saalfeld (185 inhabitants, 1994)
- Windeberg (233 inhabitants, 1992)
Mühlhausen had approx. 10,000 inhabitants during the late Middle Ages around 1500, which was the second-largest number within today's Thuringia, after Erfurt, the current capital. The early modern period brought stagnation to the city, so that the population was also 10,000 around 1800. Mühlhausen fell back behind the new ducal residence cities like Weimar, Gotha or Altenburg in this ages and lost its former importance. Furthermore, the traffic routes changed during the 19th century and Mühlhausen lost its good connection. Industrialization started later than in other German cities, nevertheless the population grew to 14,000 in 1850, 23,000 in 1880 and 35,000 in 1910, which was a significant smaller growth than in other cities of comparable size during that period of rapid urbanisation in Germany. Until 1940, the population rose to 42,000 and with the German refugees from eastern Europe, the peak was reached around 1950 with a population of 52,000. Since that time, the population is in decrease to 43,000 in 1988, 39,000 in 2000 and 33,000 in 2012 (the statistical adjustment during the 2011 Census led to a loss of 3,000 persons).
The average decline of population between 2009 and 2012 was approximately 0.38% p. a, whereas the population in bordering rural regions is shrinking with accelerating tendency. Suburbanization played only a small role in Mühlhausen. It occurred after the reunification for a short time in the 1990s, but most of the suburban areas were situated within the administrative city borders, others were Unstruttal and Weinbergen.
The birth deficit was 203 in 2012, this is -6.1 per 1,000 inhabitants (Thuringian average: -4.5; national average: -2.4). The net migration rate was +1.2 per 1,000 inhabitants in 2012 (Thuringian average: -0.8; national average: +4.6). The most important regions of origin of Mühlhausen migrants are rural areas of Thuringia as well as foreign countries like Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria.
Like other eastern German cities, Mühlhausen has only a small amount of foreign population: circa 1.6% are non-Germans by citizenship and overall 4.2% are migrants (according to 2011 EU census). Differing from the national average, the biggest groups of migrants in Mühlhausen are Russians and Ukrainians. During recent years, the economic situation of the city improved a bit: the unemployment rate in Unstrut-Hainich district declined from 21% in 2005 to 10% in 2013 with higher rates in the city than in the bordering rural municipalities. Mühlhausen itself has still one of the highest unemployment rates in Thuringia. Due to the official atheism in former GDR, most of the population is non-religious. 19.8% are members of the Evangelical Church in Central Germany and 10.3% are Catholics (according to 2011 EU census).
Culture, sights and cityscape
There are several museums in Mühlhausen:
- The Müntzergedenkstätte inside St. Mary's Church was opened in 1975 and shows an exhibition about Thomas Müntzer and various other items of cultural history.
- The Bauernkriegsmuseum inside the Corn Market Church shows an exhibition about the German Peasants' War and its importance on German history.
- The Museumsgalerie inside the All Saints Church hosts some art exhibitions: a permanent one with Thuringian art of different epoques and temporary ones of modern art.
- The Museum am Lindenbühl exhibits the municipal history of Mühlhausen and the regional history of north-western Thuringia including natural history and archaeology.
- The Wehrgang is a part of the medieval city wall, accessible next to the Frauentor gate. It enables to walk on a big part of the city wall and its towers.
The historic city centre of Mühlhausen consists of three parts. Within the inner city wall are located the old town (south of Schwemmnotte river around Untermarkt and St. Blaise's Church) and the new town (north of Schwemmnotte river around Obermarkt and St. Mary's church). Between the inner and the outer city wall are situated the former suburbiums of Mühlhausen. Like the inner city, they are of medieval origin, but as distinct from the core, this area was overbuilt often during the later history and shows a mixture of old and new buildings today, whereas the most buildings within the inner city wall are remained since the Middle Ages. During the late 19th and the 20th century, the city enlarged to all directions, whereby a relatively low density of building structures is typical for Mühlhausen, so that the built-up area is very wide in relation to the number of inhabitants.
Characteristic for Mühlhausen's buildings is the use of only one kind of material – Travertine. It could be found next to the city in large quantity and is both light and solid, so that the Gothic churches with their filigree masonries and other important buildings could be established relatively economic. Nevertheless, the most citizens' houses are wooden only with stony ground-floors.
Sights and architectural heritage
Churches and synagogue
Mühlhausen is first of all known for its high number of remained Gothic churches:
Inside the inner city wall:
- The St. Blaise's Church is the main church of the medieval old town at Untermarkt. It was built during the 13th century in early-Gothic style and is one of the most important 13th-century church buildings in Germany. Johann Sebastian Bach worked here in 1707/08 as organist. Today, it is the main evangelical parish church of Mühlhausen.
- The St. Mary's Church is the main church of the medieval new town at Obermarkt. It was built in early 14th century in high-Gothic style and is Thuringia's second largest church after the Erfurt Cathedral hosting the highest steeple of the Land (86 m). Since 1975, the church is reused as a Museum.
- The All Saints Church at Steinweg was built in late-13th century and is a museum since 1989.
- The St. Anthony's Chapel at Holzstraße was built in 13th century and is a hostel today.
- The Corn Market Church at Kornmarkt was built as Franciscanian monastery in 13th century. The monastery was abandoned in 1568 and since 1975, it is used as museum.
- The St. Jacob's Church at Jakobistraße was built in 14th century and hosts the city library today.
- The St. Kilian's Church at Kiliansgraben was built during the 14th/15th century and hosts a theatre today.
- The St. Peter and Paul's Church between Steinweg and Mönchgasse was the church of the Dominican monastery, built in early-14th century and demolished after a fire in 1689. Today, there are only a few walls remaining.
Outside the inner city wall:
- The St. George's Church at Sondershäuser Straße was built in 14th century and is an evangelical parish church today.
- The St. Martin's Church at Kiliansgraben was built in 14th century and is an evangelical parish church today.
- The St. Nicholas' Church at Bastmarkt is an evangelical parish church and was built in early-14th century in Gothic-style as the biggest church outside the inner wall.
- The St. Peter's Church at Petristeinweg was built between 1352 and 1356 and is an evangelical parish church today.
- The St. Boniface's Church at Blobach was built in 1851 in neo-Gothic style and hosts the catholic kindergarten today.
- The St. Joseph's Church at Karl-Marx-Straße was built in 1903/04 in neo-Gothic style in devotion to the medieval Mühlhausen style. Today, it hosts the catholic parish.
The Mühlhausen Synagogue at Jüdenstraße was first mentioned in 1380. Today's building is of younger origin: it was established in 1840/41 after the liberation and emancipation of Jews in Prussia. The Kristallnacht in 1938 led to damage at the synagogue, but as one of only few in Germany, it survived the Nazi period and World War II. In 1998, it was reblessed and it is in use of the Jewish Community of Thuringia, furthermore it is opened for visitors.
- The inner city wall was built during the 12th century with a length of 2700 metres, a height of 8 metres and a thickness of 1.75 metres. It is nearly completely remained, with the exception of the gates, laid down during the 19th for improving traffic on the streets. The only existing gate is the Frauentor in the west (inner and outer one). Next to the inner Frauentor stands the Rabenturm, which is accessible via the Wehrgang-Museum.
- The town hall at Ratsstraße is special, because it isn't located at a square, not even on a main street but more inside a block. Its main wing is located across the Ratsstraße with a street passage on the ground floor. It was built after 1300 and often extended until 1609.
- The Brotlaube (bread storage) is a big building at Obermarkt, first mentioned in 1304 and rebuilt after a fire in 1689. It was the market hall of the bakers.
- The Teutonic Knights had to courts in Mühlhausen: the one in the old town at Untermarkt was rebuilt in 1720 and hosts the superintendenture today and the one in the new town next to St. Mary's Church was rebuilt during the 16th century. It was the residence of Thomas Müntzer and later the birthplace of Friedrich August Stüler.
- The Pfafferode Hospital is a big hospital complex within a park, built between 1910 and 1917 at the western edge of the city and a typical example of the early-20th century sanatorium architecture in Germany.
- The Brunnenhaus Popperode is a small Renaissance building in the south-western periphery of Mühlhausen, built in 1614 around the source of the city's water supply.
- Interesting are many citizens' and patricians' houses within the centre of Mühlhausen, especially along the Steinweg street and at the Untermarkt square.
Economy and infrastructure
Agriculture, industry and services
Agriculture plays an important role until today in the Mühlhausen region. Approx. 55% of the municipal territory are in agricultural use, mostly for growing cereals and vegetables. The region is a centre of food industry in Germany, especially in the production of conserves like pickles, sauerkraut, apple sauce, cherries and other fruits and vegetables. A famous product is the Mühlhäuser Pflaumenmus (Mühlhausian plum jam), which is produced here since 1908.
Major industrial branches in Mühlhausen were the production of textiles, machines and electrical engineering. Nevertheless, the most factories got closed after the German reunification in 1990. Since that time, Mühlhausen has some problems with finding a new economic core. Compared to other cities in Thuringia, the economic situation is relatively poor. In 2012, there were only 23 companies with more than 20 workers in the industrial sector, employing all together 1,800 persons and generating an annual turnover of € 314 mio.
As district capital, Mühlhausen is a regional service hub in retail, hospitals, cinemas, education, government etc. One of the biggest employers is the Bundeswehr, but the closure of the barracks is planned in 2015 with the direct loss of more than 800 jobs in the city. Tourism doesn't play a big role yet, although the city hosts many historic sights and the Hainich National Park is only 15 km (9 mi) away. In 2012, there were 52,000 hotel guests having 118,000 overnight stays in Mühlhausen.
Mühlhausen is connected to the railway by a station at the Gotha–Leinefelde line, opened in 1870. There are some regional express trains to Göttingen and to Zwickau/Glauchau (via Gotha, Erfurt, Weimar, Jena and Gera) running every two hours and some local trains to Leinefelde and Erfurt (unlike the express via Kühnhausen), running every one to two hours. Former local railway connections to Sondershausen in the east and Treffurt in the west are abandoned.
Mühlhausen is the biggest city in Thuringia without a direct connection to the Autobahn. The Bundesautobahn 4 near Eisenach is 30 km (19 mi) to the south and the Bundesautobahn 38 near Leinefelde is 30 km (19 mi) to the north. The connection to the city is carried out by the Bundesstraße 247 (which is the most important route) to Leinefelde in the north and Bad Langensalza (with further connection to Erfurt and Gotha) in the south, the Bundesstraße 249 to Eschwege in the west and Sondershausen in the east and secondary roads to Bleicherode in the north, Eisenach in the south and Küllstedt in the north-west. Municipal traffic is carried out via the ring road along the inner city wall, whereby the load is high on the eastern side at Kiliansgraben. Therefore, a bypass road east around Mühlhausen is in planning to lead the transit traffic out of the city. This is part of a bigger set of measures to improve the connection of Mühlhausen by extending the B 247 between Leinefelde, Mühlhausen and Bad Langensalza.
Biking is getting more and more popular since the construction of quality cycle tracks began in the 1990s. For tourism serve the Unstrut track and the Unstrut-Werra track. Both connect points of tourist interest, the first along the Unstrut river from the Eichsfeld north-west of Mühlhausen to Saale river near Naumburg and second on the former railway line through the Hainich mountains from Mühlhausen to Treffurt at the Werra valley.
The Mühlhausen tramway network was established in 1898 and abandoned in 1969. Since that time, there is a bus network for inner-city and inter-municipal local transport.
There are two Gymnasiums in Mühlhausen: one state-owned and one evangelical. A college of teacher apprenticeship has been in Mühlhausen until 1990, as it was merged into the later University of Erfurt.
Mayor and city council
The last municipal election was held in 2009 with the result:
|Party||Percentage||Seats in council|
|The Left (post-socialistic left)||22.7||8|
|SPD (social democratic)||22.3||8|
|FDP (classical liberal)||10.3||4|
|IG Pro Mühlhausen (citizen-oriented/populist)||7.5||3|
|Free Voters (citizen-oriented/populist)||3.5||1|
Mühlhausen is twinned with:
- Joachim von Burck (1546-1610), composer
- John (Johann) A. Etzler, author, socialist theorist
- Günter Fromm (1926–1994), author
- Adolph Methfessel (1807–1878), composer
- Ernst Methfessel (1811–1886), composer
- John (Johann) August Roebling (1806–1869), civil engineer famous for the design of the Brooklyn Bridge.
- Friedrich August Stüler (1800 - 1865), architect
- Wilhelm Gottlieb Tilesius von Tilenau (1769 - 1857), scientist, doctor, draftsman and member of the 1st Russian sailing trip around the world
- "Bevölkerung der Gemeinden, erfüllenden Gemeinden und Verwaltungsgemeinschaften nach Geschlecht in Thüringen". Thüringer Landesamt für Statistik (in German). 13 July 2013.
- Christoph Wolff, et al. "Bach." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. 19 May. 2010 <>.
- According to Thüringer Landesamt für Statistik
- According to Thüringer Landesamt für Statistik
- According to Thüringer Landesamt für Statistik
- "Portrait of Münster: Die Partnerstädte". Stadt Münster. Archived from the original on 2013-05-09. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mühlhausen/Thüringen.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Mühlhausen.|
- "Mühlhausen". Encyclopædia Britannica 18 (11th ed.). 1911. p. 957
- "Mühlhausen". Collier's New Encyclopedia. 1921.
|Bad Hersfeld||Eisenach||Gotha — Erfurt — Weimar|