Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The name Bielefeld is derived from the old name bileveld, which means "hilly field". The centre of Bielefeld is situated on the eastern side of the Teutoburg Forest. Today there are boroughs on the opposite side and on the hilltops incorporated into Bielefeld. Bielefeld separates the two main ridges of the Northern Teutoburg Forest and the Southern Teutoburg Forest from each other.
Bielefeld was founded in 1214 in order to guard a pass crossing the Teutoburg Forest. A great castle, the Sparrenburg, was built in the middle of the medieval town - it remained impregnable through the Middle Ages. The present view of the castle does not resemble the medieval look: the Sparrenburg decayed during the 18th and 19th centuries and was restored in 1879.
In the 15th century Bielefeld was a minor member of the Hanseatic League. Afterwards it began to trade linen and became famous as "the town of linen". Major industries in Bielefeld are currently food processing, household appliances, information technology, and also various heavy industries. Bielefeld is also the seat of the two largest protestant social welfare works (Diakonie) in Europe, the von Bodelschwingsche Anstalten Bethel and the Evangelisches Johanneswerk.
Bielefeld has a university since 1969. Among the first professors of the university was the important contemporary German sociologist Niklas Luhmann. Other institutions of higher education in Bielefeld are the Theological Seminary Bethel (Kirchliche Hochschule Bethel) and a Fachhochschule (see Fachhochschule). Among important cultural institutions for the region and beyond are the art museum (Kunsthalle) and the Rudolf Oetker concert hall (Rudolf-Oetker-Halle).
In 1973 the first villages on the opposite side of the Teutoburg Forest were incorporated. The current districts of the city are: Brackwede, Dornberg, Gadderbaum, Heepen, Jöllenbeck, Mitte (Downtown), Schildesche (with the irregular pronunciation /'ʃɪldɛʃǝ/ - similar to an adjective rather than a noun), Senne, Sennestadt, and Stieghorst.
Bielefeld is connected to two major German autobahns, the A2 and A33, which intersects at the south east of Bielefeld. The Ostwestfalen-Damm expressway connects the two parts of the city naturally divided by the Teutoburg Forest. The main railroad station of Bielefeld is part of the German ICE high-speed railroad system. Bielefeld has a small airplane landing strip in the Sennestadt district, while mainly served by the two larger nearby airports Paderborn-Lippstadt and Münster-Osnabrück.
Bielefeld has a well developed public transportation system, served mainly by the companies moBiel (formerly Stadtwerke Bielefeld - Verkehrsbetriebe) and BVO. Beside busses, there is a subway system with 4 major subway lines and also local railroad trains connecting different parts of the city and nereby counties.
- The original name of the Teutoburg Forest was Osning. During the rise of German nationalism around 1848/1849, people became aware of the reference in Tacitus's Annals I 60, which refers to a defeat of the Roman army at saltus Teutoburgiensis. The similarity resulted in the renaming for "patriotic" reasons, while the actual place was about 40 km north, near Osnabrück. The details of this so called Varus Battle are currently subject to archaeological debates.
- The altarpiece of the Bielefeld church Neustädter Marienkirche from around 1400 is among the prominent masterpieces of artwork of the German Middle Age. Two of the altarpieces, The Flagellation and The Crucifixion are now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
- Being a strategically highly important point of the traffic connection between Ruhrgebiet and Berlin, the ten tonne Grand Slam bomb, the largest conventional bomb of World War II, was dropped by the No. 617 Squadron of the British Royal Air Force on the railroad viaduct of Bielefeld shortly before Germany declared its defeat. The viaduct has been rebuilt with a different design to remind the dark chapter of German history.
- Among German netizens, especially on the Usenet, a running gag is the claim that Bielefeld does not exist. This is known as the "Bielefeld-Verschwörung".
- Official Bielefeld homepage
- Live webcam of the central plaza Jahnplatz of Bielefeld
- Deutsche Welle - Conspiracy Theory: Bielefeld does not exist
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