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This page is about the city in Germany. For other meanings, see Marburg (disambiguation).

Coordinates: 50°49′N 8°46′E

Image:Marburg-Wappen.jpg Image:Karte marburg in deutschland.png

Country Germany
State Hessen
Administrative region Gießen
District Marburg-Biedenkopf
Population 78,701 (31/12/2004)
Area 124.5 km²
Population density 635 /km²
Elevation 173-412 m
Coordinates 50°49′ N 8°46′ E
Postal code 35001–35043 (old: 3550)
Area code 06421
Licence plate code MR
Mayor Egon Vaupel (SPD)
Website Stadt Marburg

Marburg is a city in Hessen, Germany, on the Lahn river. It is the main town of the Marburg-Biedenkopf district. Its population 78,701, and its geographical position 50°48′36″N, 8°46′15″E.

Image:Marburg 30.jpg
The Wettergasse in the Marburg Upper Town
Image:Marburg Schloss.jpg
Marburg: the castle, upper town, and St Elizabeth's church


[edit] Universitätsstadt Marburg

[edit] History

[edit] Founding and early history

Like many settlements, Marburg developed at the crossroads of two important early medieval highways: an east-west one (Cologne to Prague) and a north-south one (from the North Sea to the Alps and on to Italy), the former crossing the river Lahn here. The settlement was protected, and customs raised, by a small castle that was built in the 9th or 10th century by the dynasty of the Giso. Marburg has been a town since 1140, as proved by coins. From the Gisos, it fell around that time to the Landgraves of Thuringia, residing on the Wartburg above Eisenach.

[edit] St Elizabeth

In 1228 the widowed countess (Landgräfin) of Thuringia, Elizabeth, chose Marburg as her dowager seat, as she did not get along well with her brother-in-law, the new Landgrave. The countess dedicated her life to the sick and would become after her early death in 1231, aged 24, one of the most eminent female saints, St Elisabeth of Hungary. She was canonized in 1235.

St Elizabeth's church

[edit] Capital of Hessen

In 1264, St Elizabeth's daughter Sophie of Brabant, succeeded in winning the Landgraviate of Hessen, hitherto connected to Thuringia, for her son Henry. Marburg (alongside Kassel) was one of the capitals of Hessen from that time until about 1540. Following the first division of the landgraviate, it was the capital of Hessen-Marburg from 1485 to 1500 and again between 1567 and 1605. Hesse was one of the more powerful second-tier principalities in Germany. Its "eternal enemy" was the Archbishop of Mainz, one of the Electors, who competed with Hesse in many wars and conflicts, stretching over several centuries, for territory.

After 1605, Marburg became just another provincial town, known mostly for the university. It became a virtual backwater for two centuries after the Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648, when it was fought over by Hesse-Darmstadt and Hessen-Kassel. The Hessian territory around Marburg lost more than two thirds of its population, more than in all later wars (including World War I and World War II) combined.

[edit] Reformation

Marburg is the seat of the oldest Protestant university in the world, the University of Marburg, or Philipps-Universität, founded in 1527. It is one of the five classical "university villages" in Germany, the other four being Freiburg, Göttingen, Heidelberg, and Tübingen.

In 1529, Philipp I of Hesse arranged the Marburg Colloquy, to propitiate Luther and Zwingli.

[edit] Romanticism

Owing to its neglect during the entire 18th century Marburg – like Rye or Chartres – survived as a relatively intact Gothic town, simply because there was no money spent on any new architecture or expansion. When Romanticism became the dominant cultural and artistic paradigm in Germany, Marburg became interesting once again, and many of the leaders of the movement lived, taught, or studied in Marburg. They formed a circle of friends that was of great importance, especially in literature, philology, folklore, and law. The group included Friedrich Karl von Savigny, the most important jurist of his day and father of the Roman Law adaptation in Germany; the poets, writers, and social activists Achim von Arnim, Clemens Brentano, and especially the latter's sister and former's later wife, Bettina von Arnim. Most famous internationally, however, were the Brothers Grimm, who collected many of their fairy tales here – Rapunzel's Tower stands in Marburg, and across the Lahn hills, in the area called Schwalm, little girls' costumes included a red hood.

It has to be said, however, that this circle had disappeared from Marburg by the 1820s, and for another 45 years, Marburg became a Hessian backwater again.

[edit] Prussian town

In the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, the reactionary Elector of Hessen had backed Austria; Prussia won, and invaded (without any bloodshed) and annexed Hessen-Kassel (as well as Hanover, the City of Frankfurt, and other territories) north of the Main river, while likewise pro-Austrian Hessen-Darmstadt remained independent. For Marburg, this turn of events was very positive, because Prussia decided to make Marburg its main administrative center in this part of her new province and to turn the university in the regional academic center. Thus, Marburg's rise as an administrative and university city began; since the Prussian university system would become the indubitably best in the world, Marburg would now attract very famous scholars. There was, on the other hand, hardly any industry to speak of, so that students, professors, and civil servants – who generally had enough but not much money and paid very little in taxes – dominated the town, which tended to be very conservative.

[edit] 20th century

[edit] Marburg Speech
Main article: Marburg speech

Franz von Papen, vice-chancellor of Germany in 1934, delivered an anti-Nazi speech at the University of Marburg on June 17. This contributed to several of von Papen's staff being murdered by the Nazis.

In 1945, Marburg became President and Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg's final resting place. His grave is in Elisabeth Church (Marburg). He is an honorary citizen of the town.

Marburg is also now home to one of the most progressive schools for the blind in the world. Street crossings are equipped with "walk" and "don't walk" signs that also emit sounds enabling the blind to know what the signs are "saying."

[edit] Architecture

Marburg is famous for its medieval churches, especially the Elisabethkirche, one of the two or three first purely Gothic churches North of the Alps outside of France and thus an incunable of Gothic architecture in Germany, as well as for the castle.

More important, however, is Marburg's city as such, an unspoilt, spire-dominated, castle-crowned Gothic/Renaissance city on a hill, intact because Marburg was an extreme backwater between 1600 and 1850. Unlike, for example, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Marburg regained some of its importance in later centuries, so it is not a "museum village" or EuroDisney, no tourist trap but rather a student-dominated university town.

Much of the physical attractiveness of Marburg today is the legacy of the legendary Lord Mayor Dr. Hanno Drechsler (in office 1970-1992), who promoted urban renewal and the restoration, for the first time, by object and not by area, i.e. areas were not pulled down but rather buildings restored. Thus, at a time when other cities were still pulling down medieval quarters, Marburg already protected its unique heritage. Marburg also had one of the first pedestrian zones in Germany. Marburg's Altstadtsanierung (since 1972) received many awards and prizes.

[edit] Politics

As a larger mid-sized city, Marburg, like six other such cities in Hessen, has a special status as compared to the other municipalities in the district. This means that the city takes on tasks more usually performed by the district so that in many ways it is comparable to an urban district (kreisfreie Stadt).

The mayor (Oberbürgermeister) Egon Vaupel, directly elected in January 2005 and in office since 1 July 2005, is from the Social Democratic Party of Germany. His deputy, the head of the building and youth departments Dr. Franz Kahle is supplied by the Greens. The majority in the 59-seat city parliament is held by a coalition of SPD (20 seats) and Green (10 seats) members. Also represented are the factions of the CDU (17 seats), the PDS (4 seats), the Freie Wähler (Free Voters) BfM (Bürger für Marburg- 3 seats), the FDP (3 seats) and a CDU splinter group MBL (Marburger Bürgerliste- 2 seats).

Outside the parliament, there are in Marburg, like otherwise only in big cities, a full range of groupings. Among the leftwing groups are ATTAC, the Worldshop movement, an autonomist-anarchist scene, but also groups engaged in ecological or human-rights concerns.

The rightwing groups include a few less student-oriented associations or faternities (Burschenschaften), some of which are thought by some to belong to the extreme rightwing scene; this is however a highly controversial topic for debate.

[edit] City partnerships

[edit] Coat of arms

Marburg's coat of arms shows a Hessian Landgrave riding a white horse with a flag and a shield on a red background. The shield shows the red-and-white-striped Hessian lion, also to be seen on Hessen's state arms, and the flag shows a stylized M, blue on gold (or yellow). The arms are also the source of the city flag's colours. This is three horizontal stripes coloured, from top to bottom, red (from the background), white (from the horse) and blue (from the shield).

The arms, which were designed in the late nineteenth century, are based on a landgrave's seal on a municipal document, which is an example of a very prevalent practice of replacing forgotten coats of arms, or ones deemed not to be representative enough, with motifs taken from seals. Under municipal codes in force in Germany today, the use of city or municipal arms in service seals is often mandatory.

[edit] Marburg virus

Main article: Marburg (virus)

The city's name is also connected to a filovirus, the Marburg virus, which was first noticed and described during an outbreak in the city due to workers being accidentally exposed to infected green monkey tissue at the city's main industrial plant (1967), the Behring-Werke, then part of Hoechst and today of ZLB Behring, founded by Marburg citizen and first Nobel Prize in Medicine winner, Emil von Behring. During the outbreak, nineteen people became infected and five of them died. While this may seem a small number of people, during a cholera epidemic in the modern world only 1 in 20 people die. The Marburg virus is named after the town as it is customary to name viruses of such ferocity after the town or area in which they originate.

[edit] External links


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