Facts in brief:
The west-central German city of Dortmund is located in the industrial Ruhr district at the head of the Dortmund-Ems Canal. The site was first known under the name of Throtmanni in 885, and became a free imperial city in 1220. In medieval times it was a prosperous member of the Hanseatic League, and in the 14th century the English crown several times applied to its merchants for loans. It underwent a decline after the Thirty Years' War and lost its status as an imperial city in 1803, but revived in the 19th-century with the development of coal and iron mining and the construction in 1899 of the canal with extensive port facilities. World War II bombardment caused great destruction, and the city has been rebuilt along planned, modern lines. Four medieval churches have been restored, and the remains of four moated castles and Saxon and Carolingian fortresses. Significant modern architecture includes the Westphalia Hall, built 1952, one of Europe's largest halls, and the synagogue built in 1956. Dortmund has many educational institutions, including a university, and the large Museum of Art and Culture. Its primary commercials products are beer, coal, and steel, and it hosts a world famous bridge-building firm. Its 2004 estimated population was 592,200.
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