Sitting on the banks of the iconic Rhine River, Bonn is a popular river cruise destination with a long history which extends further back beyond the time the city spent as the capital of West Germany between 1949 and 1990 and of reunified Germany until 1999. The history of Bonn actually began when the Romans established a unit in the area which is the town’s historical centre. Eventually a fort was built, which survived up until medieval times and which eventually developed into the town of Bonn. Over the years, the town continued to gain importance and became part of the kingdom of Prussia during the Napoleonic Wars, had strategic importance during the Second World War and was subsequently captured by US forces in 1945. Today, its long history and landmark buildings make it a fascinating city to explore.
Marktplatz is the city’s historic town square and a go-to starting point for many visitors to the city. It hosts farmers’ markets, festivals and musical performances and is a great place in which to sit and soak up the atmosphere. It’s also where you’ll find the city’s minster, which is one of the oldest churches in Germany and a beautiful and fascinating building both inside and out. Also situated on the Marktplatz is the historic Altes Rathaus, or town hall, which has a striking, pastel-coloured façade. In front of the town hall, you’ll also find the poignant ‘bookmarks’ memorial, which honours books burned by students of Bonn University during the time of Nazi rule and also their authors.
Unsurprisingly, Beethoven House is one of the city’s most famous attractions, naturally because it is the birthplace of one of history’s most celebrated composers. It is filled with all manner of manuscript copies, paintings and artefacts with a connection to the great man himself, including, most significantly, his last piano. If the composer’s life and work is a focus of your visit, be sure to head over to the expansive Munsterplatz for a look at the Beethoven Monument. If you’re visiting on a Christmas Markets cruise, you’ll also find that the Munsterplatz is the place where the city’s celebrated festive market is held.
An architectural attraction in itself, Poppelsdorf Palace is a beautiful baroque building which is part of Bonn’s university and its grounds play host to another of the city’s most popular attractions, the beautiful Botanic Garden. Perfect for lovers of horticulture, or simply for those who simply want to get away from it all, the gardens feature a vast array of specimens from all over the world and are a real riot of colour. The garden is not too large, well laid out and easy to navigate, so even if you don’t have too long to spend in the city, you’ll have the opportunity to explore.
Those with a sweet tooth will be interested to know that Haribo has its headquarters in Bonn and there’s a factory store which hosts memorabilia as well as, not surprisingly, a vast array of confection. Germany is also big on bread and Bonn also boasts a wealth of fine bakeries to choose from.