History of the city
The first documented reference to Heilbronn was in 741 AD, and by 1146 it was already referred to as a "Portus", meaning a trading station by a river. With the imperial decree of 1333, which granted the local people the right to divert the river Neckar into the city, there was no way of holding back the city’s increasing prosperity. The city arose in the Middle Ages from a Franconian Kings courtyard and the name, first mentioned in 741, dates back to a source.
Rudolf I accorded municipal law in 1281. 52 years later, Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian granted the authorisation to sweep and turn-over the Neckar River, meaning to impound and redirect the river and build a harbour.
During the peasant’s war in 1525, the "Neckartaler Haufen" under the rule of Jäklein Rohrbach and Götz von Berlichingen were fighting in the area around Heilbronn.
In 1530, the council of the imperial city avowed themselves to the evangelic faith. During the 30 Years War, Heilbronn was depredated and pillaged numerous times, and then in 1633 at the "Heilbronn Convent", the protestant empire city of southern Germany formed an alliance with Sweden.
Culture and the economy flourished in the second part of the 18th century.
The "golden age" in the imperial city ended September 9th 1802 when Württemberg troops moved in. Heilbronn then became the Oberamtsstadt (chief administrative city) of Württemberg. In the 19th Century, prospering businesses made Heilbronn the second most important industrial city in Württemberg. As a result of incorporation, the population increased to 72,000 by 1938.
In the Second World War on December 4th 1944, an English air attack killed almost 7,000 people and destroyed around 80 % of the city.
US troops occupied the city on April 12th 1945 after 10 days of fighting. Reconstruction was rapidly carried out and in 1953, Federal President Dr Theodor Heuss inaugurated the rebuilding of the city hall.
New residential quarters arose and Heilbronn became a large city in 1970 due to further incorporation. Shortly after the pedestrian zone was set up, the city theatre opened and the culture centre "Deutschhof" received investment.
American troops left Heilbronn in 1992 and nowadays, the vacant surfaces are residential and recreational areas as well as industrial estates.
In 1997, the city hospital "Am Gesundbrunnen" was founded.
Even though Heilbronn was largely destroyed during the Second World War, you will still find more than a hint of history in its reconstructed, restored and lovingly-maintained features. It is part of the identity: whether in the conflicts of the Reformation, the proud self-assertions as a free imperial city, or the spiritual resurgence of the Renaissance. The concept of the new Heilbronn is the vision "Heilbronn2020" - a city that grows for and with its people.