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Just Looking: “New Miracle” at Bonn

  • April 9th, 2007
  • Posted by Emily Balfe

bonn-stadt-emily.jpgBonn has overcome the uncertainty of losing its capital status to Berlin and proven itself to be a hub of enterprise, culture and international relations. Emily Balfe talked to Bonn City spokesperson Stephan Wagner about the new age of the pre-unification capital.

In the square outside Bonn’s eighteenth century Rathaus, or town hall, the flourishing market trade continues as it has done for centuries.

A recent development, though, are the skyscrapers which dwarf the square and house the headquarters of some of Germany’s largest companies, including Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile and Deutsche Post.

The Rathaus has been the site of a fifteen year effort by the mayoral council, with help from the federal government, to ensure the city’s prosperity through this fusion of history and enterprise.

It’s been a big effort to ensure Bonn was not left in the cold, and new industries and international agencies have been brought in to fill the gap left when the parliament and public service moved out.

Bonn City spokesperson Stephan Wagner says Bonn now focuses on hosting hundreds of companies and non-government agencies – in science, international relations, cultural events, new technologies, and tourism.

“We are the German United Nations city today, which is an asset for our city definitely, not only because of the people working here but also because of the conferences that we have in Bonn, of all the economic development that comes from this, the attention and the awareness as well.”

Thirteen agencies of the United Nations now work from Bonn, including the Climate Secretariat; which means the city now hosts world conferences on climate change – it’s become a major conference centre.

The former capital continues to grow rapidly, as NGOs, major private enterprises and six remaining federal ministries provide thousands of jobs.

The city also attracts one million tourists every year – Most are drawn to the “gaborthaus”, the birth-house of Bonn’s favourite son, Ludwig van Beethoven

Mr Wagner says it’s all a miracle, which the residents of Bonn could not have dreamed of 15 years ago.

“I think many, many people in Bonn had the fear that if many people go that this could cause damage to our economic welfare, our economic development, so there was this fear and uncertainty and this was the starting point for structural change in our city.

“Fifteen years after this decision was taken, the reality shows that luckily this fear wasn’t to become true but people have a very good perspective now, and the perspective for their families and themselves is pretty good.”

The city is confident of an illustrious future, building on the foundation of its already illustrious past.