Bonn (bŏn, Ger. bôn) [key], city (1994 pop. 296,860), former capital of West Germany, North Rhine–Westphalia, W Germany, on the Rhine River. It functioned as the provisional seat of government of reunited Germany until 1999, when most of the government moved to Berlin; some government functions remain in Bonn. The city's manufactures include light-metal products, ceramics, office equipment, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. After the departure of the national government, Bonn made strides in becoming an information-technology and medical research center.
Bonn was founded in the 1st cent. A.D. as the Roman garrison of Castra Bonnensia. It was devastated by the Normans in the 9th cent. and later became the residence (1238–1794) of the electors of Cologne and the scene of the coronations of Frederick the Handsome (1314) and Charles IV (1346) as kings of the Romans. During the Palatinate Succession War (1689), Bonn was destroyed by Elector Frederick III of Brandenburg. It was rebuilt, largely in the baroque style. Bonn was occupied (1794) and later annexed (1798–1814) by France. In 1815, it passed to Prussia. In 1948–49, delegates from the parts of Germany occupied by France, Great Britain, and the United States met in Bonn and drafted a constitution for the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1949, Bonn was made West Germany's capital.
Bonn is the seat of a famous university, whose main building formerly was the electoral palace (built 1697–1725). The city has a noteworthy church (11th–13th cent.). The Bonn Art Museum and the Federal Art and Exhibition Center both opened in 1992. There is a museum of Rhenish culture, and Beethoven's birthplace is also a museum.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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