Respect - Bielefeld is 800 years old - incredible - there is no such place
The Bielefelder loves his city at the foot of the Sparrenburg castle. So it is no wonder that the celebrations for its 800 year anniversary will go on for quite a while – an entire year in fact. The whole of the year 2014 is devoted to this very special jubilee. Founded in the year 1214 by the Count Hermann of Ravensberg, Bielefeld today boasts 328,000 inhabitants making it the largest city and economic centre in the region Ostwestfalen-Lippe. As a well-established company with a long tradition Dürkopp is still reflected in various spots of the city’s architecture even today, so it is no surprise that Dürkopp can be discovered and experienced again and again in the course of the celebrations.
Things got underway with the “Dürkopp Days” in the Lenkwerk at the beginning of May. Dürkopp was the centre attention for four whole days.
A special exhibition of old timers, bicycles and scooters invited visitor to take a trip into the past. It was during the celebrations for the Dürkopp 150th jubilee that we had the idea of getting the Phaeton back on the roads of Bielefeld in time for the big 800-year jubilee of the city. It was on show together with some other Dürkopp old timers for the Dürkopp Days.
But the Dürkopp Days had a very special attraction – because it was not only possible to admire the historical vehicles. On Saturday 3rd May an additional run took place with Dürkopp mopeds, motorbikes and scooters from the Lenkwerk to Detmold, a rally that anyone with a Dürkopp machine could take part in and where the vehicles reconquered the roads of Bielefeld for a while.Tribute was also paid to Dürkopp bicycles, of course, with a trip to Brönninghausen on historical Dürkopp bikes exactly one day later, on the Sunday.
But that is not all, because bicycles can be staged in other ways, too – as was the case in the theatre project “Zeitsprung (time leap)– BI-Motion“.
800 inhabitants took part as musicians and dancers in the official theatre project put on to celebrate the 800 year jubilee of the city in the Bielefeld Guildhall. Participants included the Bielefeld Theatre of Dance and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Bielefeld, the Syrian clarinet virtuoso Kinan Azmeh, schoolchildren from all classes and types of school as well as amateur dancers and musicians of all ages.
The project focussed on the diversity of Bielefeld society: What are the traditions and rituals of the city? What historical events have had a special impact and lasting effect on Bielefeld? And what is the demographic structure of today’s population?
In a nutshell: The stage became a mirror image of Bielefeld, which encompassed all its inhabitants regardless of origin, creed or age. One aspect of the theatrical performance that is not to be underestimated was the “Bicycle Symphony – creating music with a bicycle”.
Known as the “old bicycle city”, Bielefeld was extremely successful in this respect in the 1930s. Every fifth bicycle produced in Germany at that time came from Bielefeld. So "The Bicycle Symphony" paid homage to exactly this epoch. The old bikes produced in Bielefeld were put to new use here, setting the tone for a very unusual production where they served as string and wind instruments in their own charming way.
One highlight of the 800-year celebrations is most certainly the Nordrhein-Westfalen-Day, or NRW-Day for short. The federal state celebrates is foundation on 23rd August 1946 every two years with a state festival. This year’s NRW-Day took place from 27th – 29th July in Bielefeld as part of the 800-year jubilee. Altogether over 250,000 people took part in the celebrations. Not to be missed was the traditional parade on Saturday, which highlighted the great diversity of both city and countryside.
104 years after the former Dürkopp plant left Bielefeld the Phaeton once again rolled over the roads of Bielefeld as part of the NRW-Day and although the parade unfortunately did not pass directly by its actual birthplace the old glory of the car once demonstrated daily on the roads was nevertheless to be felt. Despite sporadic prolonged showers all the participants rallied together to create a colourful picture of the region, which would be unimaginable without Dürkopp.
With 320,000 inhabitants Bielefeld ranks in the top quarter of Germany’s largest cities. Despite this the city cannot make up its mind whether it really wants to be a metropolis. It is quieter here (and safer) than in other large cities although the great variety of leisure and cultural activities on offer is so high that virtually all interests can be satisfied.
If you are staying in downtown Bielefeld you will find it a city of short distances where most destinations can be reached by bike. In 2012 Bielefeld took 3rd place in a test of cycle-friendliness carried out by the bicycle association ADFC in North-Rhine Westphalia.
Since June 2013 the refurbished Kesselbrink is open and offers Skate- and BMX fans many opportunities on 1,000 square metres.
Bielefeld has been a university city since 1969 and today has almost 20,000 students enrolled in 13 faculties studying a wide range of disciplines including the humanities, natural science, social sciences and technology. The new Bielefeld Campus being built in the immediate vicinity of the university is intended as a centre of research and science. 2010 saw the start of three large building projects on the Campus that is due to be completed by the year 2025.
Cycling or hiking in the Teutoburg forest are the first choice recreational activities. Where relaxing in natural surroundings is a favourite past time, although there is also a lot of green to be found in the public parks and other green areas right on the doorstep. The only zoo offering free entry is located near the open-air museum and is open all year round. There are 8 open-air swimming pools where you can cool off from the summer heat. The Hermannslauf (being held for the 42nd time in 2013) that takes place annually offers running fans a diverse itinerary that follows the ridge walk Hermannslauf from Detmold to Bielefeld.
For those more interested in history there is an opportunity to experience the middle ages live within the framework of the annual Sparrenburg Castle Festival. There are 750 years of castle history to enjoy all year round of course, but on one weekend a year the whole family can be transported back in time.
The Kunsthalle Bielefeld is renowned nationwide, designed by Philip Johnson it is home to a changing program of exhibitions. Free and municipal theatres, a concert hall and various other venues are all just waiting for a visit. Bunker Ulmenwall, for example, is a legendary venue for the alternative scene where events take place in a disused bunker. Bielefeld is to be the 2013 venue for the German PoetrySlam championship.
But the event of the year for art and church enthusiasts must be the “The Open Night”, when 48 museums, churches and galleries open their doors to visitors all night long. The Dr. Oetker World was also opened to the public for the first time in 2013.
It is not only the many historical buildings that give the historical city centre of Bielefeld its own special charm, but also the many annual events that take place here such as the La Strada car show, the "Linen Weaver Market", the Carnival of Cultures and the Christmas markets that open up a myriad of opportunities.
All the big high street names such as Karstadt, SportScheck, Galeria Kaufhof, C&A, P&C and H&M can be found in the city centre and enjoyed to the full on Sunday opening days and Midnight Shopping twice a year. It is a bit quieter in the immediately adjacent old historical centre. Here you will find mostly smaller retailers and boutiques.
And if you want to enjoy yourself right through to the small hours, you can do that, too – you are bound to find the right kind of music in one of the many discotheques or clubs. From House in Cafe Europa to rock in Movie and on to over-30 parties in the City Palace - it’s all there.
According to statistics from Focus (survey carried out by immobilienscout24.de) Bielefeld with its average of 6.27 Euros per m2 came in at the bottom end of the scale in a nationwide comparison of 80 cities; you have to pay almost twice as much in cities like Frankfurt (12.63 Euros), Stuttgart (11.06 Euros) and Hamburg (11.41 Euros).