AskDefine | Define kiel

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Middle Low German


Kiel m

Proper noun

  1. Kiel (city in northern Germany)

Extensive Definition

For the city in the United States, see Kiel, Wisconsin. For the name see Kiel (name).
Kiel () is the capital of the northernmost German state, Schleswig-Holstein. It is located on the eastern side of the base of the Jutland peninsula in the southeast corner of the Baltic Sea. Located on the Bay of Kiel at the head of the Kiel Fjord, the city has been one of the country's main naval bases since the 1860s, a centre for German shipbuilders, and the eastern terminus of the busiest artificial waterway in the world, the Kiel Canal.
Kiel is famous for its sailing events, including Kiel Week, the biggest sailing event in the world. In 1936 and 1972, when the Olympic Games were held in Berlin and Munich respectively, the Olympic sailing competitions were held in Kiel-Schilksee. It had a population of 232,340 as of 31 December 2006.
A renowned university, the Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel (established 1665), is located in Kiel. The city is served by Kiel-Holtenau airport. The largest local newspaper is the Kieler Nachrichten.


The Kiel Fjord was first settled by Normans or Vikings who would colonize the land along their raids for many years staying in German villages. This is recorded by the geography and architecture of the fjord. Kiel was first originally founded in 1233 as Holstenstadt tom Kyle by Count Adolf IV, and granted Lübeck city rights in 1242 by Adolf's eldest son, John I of Schauenburg.
Kiel, the capital of Holstein, was a member of the Hanseatic League from 1284 until it was expelled in 1518 for harbouring pirates. In 1431, the Kieler Umschlag (trade fair) was first held, which became the central market for goods and money in Schleswig-Holstein until it began to lose significance from 1850 on, being held for the last time in 1900. The University of Kiel was founded on 29 September, 1665, by Christian Albert, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp. A number of important scholars, including Theodor Mommsen and Max Planck, studied or taught there.
From 1773 to 1864, the town belonged to the King of Denmark. However, because the king ruled Holstein as a fief of the Holy Roman Empire only through a personal union, the town was not incorporated as part of Denmark proper. Thus Kiel belonged to Germany but was ruled by the Danish king. Even though the Empire was abolished in 1806, the Danish king continued to rule Kiel only through his position as Duke of Holstein. When Schleswig and Holstein rebelled against Denmark in 1848 (the First Schleswig War), Kiel became the capital of Schleswig-Holstein until the Danish victory in 1852.
During the Second Schleswig War in 1864, Kiel and the rest of Schleswig and Holstein were conquered by a German Confederation alliance of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. After the war Kiel was briefly administered by both the Austrians and the Prussians, but the Austro-Prussian War in 1866 led to the annexation of Kiel by Prussia in 1867. On 24 March, 1865, King William I based Prussia's Baltic Sea fleet out of Kiel instead of Danzig (Gdańsk).
When William I of Prussia became Emperor William I of the German Empire in 1871, he designated Kiel and Wilhelmshaven as Reichskrieghafen, or "Imperial War Harbour". Because of its new role as Germany's main naval base, Kiel quickly increased in size in the following years, from 18,770 in 1864 to about 200,000 in 1910. Much of the old town centre and other surroundings were leveled and redeveloped to provide for the growing city. Kiel was the site of the sailors' mutiny which sparked the German Revolution in late 1918.
At the end of World War I the German fleet stationed at Kiel was sent out on a last glorious mission against the British navy. This was a suicide mission that would not have achieved much, so the men stationed on the ships decided they had nothing to lose and refused to leave the relative safety of the port. The lack of response to this from the government was partly to blame for the revolution that soon followed and therefore the rise of the Weimar Republic.
Kiel was the site of several camps that provided slave labour for local industry during World War II.Because of its status as a naval port and as production site for submarines, Kiel was heavily bombed by the Allies during the war; it is estimated that 80% of the remaining old town, 72% of the residential areas, and 83% of the industrial areas were destroyed. The city was rebuilt after the war, but city planners failed to revive the former cityscape; Kiel was less meticulously restored than other towns in Schleswig-Holstein like Lübeck, Flensburg, or Schleswig.
In 1946, Kiel was named the seat of government for Schleswig-Holstein, and it officially became the state's capital in 1972. The Kieler Umschlag has been held again yearly since 1975. It is now a festival with music and food stalls, historical costumes, special bread, and a wedding, the Umschlagshochzeit for which every young bride and groom can apply. Above all, Kiel is most famous for its Kiel Week sailing festival held annually in June.

Main sights

In the vicinity of Kiel are seaside resorts such as Kiel-Strande, Kiel-Schilksee, Möltenort and Laboe. Laboe has an important naval memorial, as well as the WWII-era submarine U-995, a popular tourist site since 1972.
Sights in Kiel include:


Kiel is the home of HDW Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft GmbH, a shipyard founded in 1838 famed for its construction of submarines. HDW built the first German submarine Brandtaucher in 1850, and is today a subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, the leading German group of shipyards.

Notable people

Notable residents

Important historic mayors and lord mayors of Kiel

  • 1688 - 1720: Asmus Bremer
  • 1730 - 1732: Ernst Joachim von Westphalen
  • 1920 - 1933: Emil Lueken (removed from office by the Nazis)

Lord mayors after World War II

  • 1946 - 1954: Andreas Gayk (SPD)
  • 1954 - 1965: Hans Müthling (SPD)
  • 1965 - 1980: Günther Bantzer (SPD)
  • 1980 - 1994: Karl-Heinz Luckhardt (SPD)
  • 1994 - 1997: Otto Kelling (SPD)
  • 1997 - 2003: Norbert Gansel (SPD)
  • 2003 - today: Angelika Volquartz (CDU)

Sister towns

Kiel is twinned with:


External links

kiel in Arabic: كيل
kiel in Asturian: Kiel
kiel in Bulgarian: Кил (град)
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kiel in Modern Greek (1453-): Κίελο
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kiel in Esperanto: Kijlo
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kiel in Icelandic: Kíl
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kiel in Hebrew: קיל
kiel in Georgian: კილი
kiel in Latin: Kielia
kiel in Latvian: Ķīle
kiel in Lithuanian: Kylis
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kiel in Marathi: कील
kiel in Dutch: Kiel (Duitsland)
kiel in Dutch Low Saxon: Kiel (Duutslaand)
kiel in Japanese: キール (都市)
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kiel in Occitan (post 1500): Kiel
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kiel in Polish: Kilonia
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kiel in Romanian: Kiel
kiel in Russian: Киль (город)
kiel in Albanian: Kiel
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kiel in Chinese: 基尔
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