Bingen am Rhein
|o Mayor||Thomas Feser (CDU)|
|o Total||37.74 km2 (14.57 sq mi)|
|Elevation||89 m (292 ft)|
|o Density||680/km2 (1,800/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)|
|Vehicle registration||MZ, BIN|
The settlement's original name was Bingium, a Celtic word that may have meant "hole in the rock", a description of the shoal behind the Mäuseturm, known as the Binger Loch. Bingen was the starting point for the Via Ausonia, a Roman military road that linked the town with Trier. Bingen is well known for, among other things, the story about the Mouse Tower, in which allegedly the Bishop of Mainz Hatto was eaten by mice. It was also the birthplace of Saint Hildegard von Bingen, an important polymath, abbess, mystic and musician, one of the most influential medieval composers and one of the earliest Western composers whose music is widely preserved and performed. Bingen am Rhein was also the birthplace of the celebrated poet Stefan George, along with many other influential figures.
Bingen is situated just southeast of the Rhine knee by the Bingen Forest (Binger Wald - actually a low mountain range), which rises west of the town. Rising to the north on the other side of the Rhine is the Rheingau range, the Taunus's southwesternmost outcrop. In Bingen the river Nahe empties into the Rhine Gorge. Bingen forms the southern limit of the UNESCO Rhine Gorge World Heritage Site. The Rochusberg (mountain) is nearly completely surrounded by the town site.
(each time at 31 December)
Even before the Romans came, people lived here, because the location favoured transport, being at the confluence of the Nahe and Rhine Rivers, and the Rhine's entry into the gorge. The first settlement seems to have been a Celtic (Gaulish) settlement by the name of Binge - meaning "rift". In the early first century AD, Roman troops were stationed in Bingen on the Rhine Valley Road, and rendered the local name as Bingium in Latin. There the Romans erected a wooden bridge across the Nahe and constructed a bridgehead castrum. A Roman Mithraic monument, which included a mutilated sculpture representing the nativity of Mithra from a rock, was discovered in Bingen; one of its inscriptions is dated 236.
The presbyter Aetherius of Bingen founded sometime between 335 and 360 a firmly Christian community. Bearing witness to this time is Aetherius's gravestone, which can still be seen in Saint Martin's Basilica. After the fall of the Limes, the town became a Frankish royal estate and passed in 983 by the Donation of Verona from Otto II to Archbishop Willigis of Mainz. Under Otto III the Binger Kammerforst (forest) came into being. Under Willigis, some way up the river Nahe, the stone Drususbrücke (bridge) was built.
The inhabitants of Bingen strove time and again for independence, which led in 1165 through disputes between the Archbishop of Mainz and the Emperor to destruction. In the 13th century, Bingen was a member of the Rhenish League of Towns. The building of Klopp Castle (Burg Klopp) in the mid 13th century could well be seen as being tied in with this development. A last attempt was the town's unsuccessful participation in the German Peasants' War in 1525. From the Archbishop the Cathedral Chapter of Mainz acquired the town in two halves in 1424 and 1438. Until the late 18th century Bingen remained under its administration. Like many towns in the valley, Bingen suffered several town fires and wars.
From 1792 to 1813, the town was, as part of the département of Mont-Tonnerre (or Donnersberg - both names meaning "Thunder Mountain"), French after French Revolutionary troops had occupied the Rhine's left bank. In 1816, after the Congress of Vienna, the town passed to the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt while today's outlying centre of Bingerbrück went to Prussia's Rhine Province, making Bingen a border town until 1871, when the German Empire was founded.
On 7 June 1969, the formerly Prussian municipality of Bingerbrück was amalgamated. On 22 April 1972 came Dromersheim's and Sponsheim's amalgamation with Bingen. The epithet am Rhein has been borne since 1 July 1982.
For the State Garden Show in 2008 in Bingen, the Rhineside areas in the town underwent extensive modernization.
Benjamin of Tudela mentioned a Jewish community in Bingen in the mid-12th century. Christian inhabitants attacked the small Jewish quarter on Rosh Hashanah in 1198 or 1199, and the Jews were driven from the city. Jews again lived in Bingen as moneylenders in the middle of the 13th century under the jurisdiction of the archbishop of Mainz. In 1343, French Jews settled in Bingen. In 1405, the archbishop declared a moratorium on one-fifth of the debts owed to Jews by Christians, and subsequently the archbishops repeatedly extorted large sums. Noted rabbis who taught in the small community included Seligmann Oppenheim, who convened the Council of Bingen (1455-56) in an unsuccessful attempt to establish his authority over the whole of Rhineland Jewry. After the proposal was opposed by Moses Minz, the matter was referred to Isaac Isserlein, who rejected the project. The Jews were again expelled from Bingen in 1507, and did not return until the second half of the 16th century. The Jewish population was 465 in 1933, and 222 in 1939 due to flight and emigration. The 169 Jews who remained in Bingen in 1942 were deported, and only four ultimately returned. The synagogue was demolished in 1945, and the community was not reestablished after World War II.
Bingen was from 18 April to 19 October 2008 host for the Rhineland-Palatinate State Garden Show. The event was held along a 2.8 km stretch of the Rhine waterfront on 24 ha of exhibition area. With 1.3 million visitors, the expected number of 600,000 was greatly exceeded.
The region is characterized economically by winegrowing, all the more so as in Bingen, three winegrowing areas (Rheinhessen, Mittelrhein and Nahe) meet. The town is also the winegrowing Bereich's (Bereich Bingen) namesake in German wine law.
Other industries, which once did business in Bingen when there was a harbour, have left the town over the years. The service industries found here today are found mainly in the industrial park (Autobahn interchange Bingen-Ost / Kempten / Industriegebiet) and in the Scharlachberg commercial park.
Tourism also plays an important role.
Bingen (Rhein) Stadt station lies 2 km farther east, right across from the historical harbour crane. This station is only important for local transport. Furthermore, there is also a stop in Bingen-Gaulsheim. The reason that two railway stations arose in Bingen is historical. The main railway station was originally a Prussian border station built by the Rhenish Railway Company on its West Rhine Railway, while the station in town belonged to the Hessian Ludwig Railway.
Only private transport is still of importance today. The cargo harbour has been abandoned. The former winter harbour is now a marina.
There are landing stages of the tourist lines Köln-Düsseldorfer, Bingen-Rüdesheimer Fahrgastschifffahrt and Rösslerlinie. A passenger ferry and a car ferry link Bingen with Rüdesheim.
Until the late 1970s, Bingen was a piloting station.
Bingen am Rhein is twinned with: