Church St. Lorenz Basilica
|• Lord Mayor||Ulrich Netzer (CSU)|
|• Total||63.29 km2 (24.44 sq mi)|
|Elevation||674 m (2,211 ft)|
|• Density||1,000/km2 (2,600/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)|
Kempten is the largest town in Allgäu, a region in the south-west of Bavaria, Germany. The population was ca 61,000 in 2006. The area was possibly settled originally by Celts, but was later overtaken by the Romans, who called the town Cambodunum. Kempten is the oldest urban settlement (town) in Germany.
The Greek geographer Strabon mentions in 50 BC a town of the Celtic Estiones named Kambodunon. This is considered the oldest written reference of any German city. So far no archaeological evidence could be found that this Celtic settlement really existed.
In 15 BC Roman troops led by Nero Claudius Drusus and his brother Tiberius conquered and destroyed an existing Celtic city. Later the settlement was named Cambodunum. In the following years the city was rebuilt on a classical Roman city plan with baths, forum and temples. Initially in wood, the city was later rebuilt in stone after a devastating fire that destroyed almost the entire city in the year 69 AD. The city possibly served as provincial capital of Raetia during the first century before Augsburg took over this role. Extensive archeological excavations at the end of the 19th century and again during the 1950s at what were then the outskirts of Kempten unearthed the extensive structural foundations.
The city was again destroyed in 233 AD by the Alemanni, a Suebic tribe. The original site of Cambodunum was then abandoned and moved to a strategically safer location on the Burghalde hill overlooking the river Iller.
Until the middle of the 5th century the last Roman troops had left the area and the city was entirely overtaken by the Alemanni.
After the Romans abandoned the settlement, it was moved from the hill down to the plains located next to the river Iller. In written sources, the town appears as Cambidano. Being still predominantly Alemannic, the town once more was destroyed by the Franks in 683 as a consequence of the city’s support of an uprising against the Frankish kingdom.
Around 700 a monastery — Kempten Abbey — was built, the first in the Allgäu region. Audogar was the first abbot of the new Benedictine monastery. Through the financial and lobbyist support of Charlemagne’s wife Hildegard, an Allemanic princess, the monastery managed to become one of the most privileged monasteries of the Frankish Empire.
In 1213, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II declared the abbots members of the Reichstag and granted the abbot the right to bear the title of Duke. However in 1289, King Rudolf of Habsburg also granted special privileges to the urban settlement in the river valley, making it the Free Imperial City of Kempten. In 1525 the last property rights of the abbots in the Imperial City were sold in the so-called “Great Purchase”, marking the start of the co-existence of two independent cities bearing the same name next to each other. More conflict arose after the Imperial City converted to Protestantism in direct opposition to the Catholic monastery (and Free City) in 1527.
Renaissance and Baroque to Modern Age
During the turmoil of the Thirty Years' War (1632–33), both cities were destroyed by the imperial forces and the Swedish troops respectively.
In 1652 Roman Giel of Gielsberg, the Abbot of Kempten, commissioned the architects Michael Beer and Johann Serro from Graubünden to build St. Lorenz Basilica as a new church to serve the parish and monastery, including a representative residence for the Duke-Abbots. This is acknowledged as the first large church built in Germany after the end of the Thirty Years' War.
During the Napoleonic Wars the Duke-Abbey and Imperial City came under Bavarian rule (1802–03). Finally, in 1819, the two rivalling cities were united into a single communal entity.
Claude (Claudius) Honoré Desiré Dornier born in Kempten im Allgäu (May 14, 1884 - December 5, 1969) was a German airplane builder and founder of Dornier GmbH. His legacy remains in the few aircraft named after him, including the Dornier Do 18 and the 12-engine Dornier Do X flying boat, for decades the world's largest and most powerful airplane.
- The St. Lorenz Basilica (Basilica minor)
- The St. Mang Church
- The Burghalde, a ruin.
- The Duke-Abbots' Residence
- The Archaeological Park Cambodunum
- The City Hall and Square
- The Erasmuskapelle (an underground cappel)
The city bus system is operated by Kemptener Verkehrsbetriebe, which operates over 20 lines.
The Kempten University of Applied Sciences started in the winter semester of 1978–79 with 89 students and since then expanded and now accommodates more than 2800 students in eight degree courses:
- Business Administration
- Computer Science
- Electrical Engineering
- Industrial Engineering – Electronic and Information Technology
- Industrial Engineering – Mechanical Engineering with Distribution Management or Information Technology
- Mechanical Engineering
- Social Management
- Tourism and Hospitality Management
There are also three Grammar Schools (Allgäu-Gymnasium, Hildegardis-Gymnasium, Carl-von-Linde-Gymnasium) offering education to the entire region of the Allgäu.
Notable people from Kempten include:
- Claudius Dornier, plane constructor
- Ernst W. Mayr, biologist
- Heide Schmidt, Austrian politician
- Ignaz Kiechle, politician
- İlhan Mansız, Turkish footballer
- Günther Dollinger, German physicist and professor
- Søren Kam, Danish Nazi war criminal
- Bad Dürkheim, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, since 2001
- Quiberon, Morbihan, France, since 1971 (initially with the municipality St. Mang)
- Sligo, County Sligo, Ireland, since 1990
- Sopron, Győr-Moson-Sopron, Hungary, since 1987
- Trento, Trentino, Italy, since 1987
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