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Title: Altstadt  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Rapperswil, Roter faden, University of St. Gallen, Stralsund, Historic districts
Collection: Historic Districts
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Altstadt of Tübingen
Stralsund, a city regarded World Heritage status by UNESCO. German old towns are often recognizable by their density, small alleys and buildings from different eras, mostly even going back to Gothic times.
Altstadt of Rothenburg ob der Tauber in 1900...
... and in 2008

Altstadt is the German language word for "old town", meaning "historical city centre within the city wall", in contrast to younger suburbs outside. Neustadt (new town), the logical opposite of "Altstadt", mostly stands for a part of the "Altstadt" in modern sense, sometimes only few years younger than the oldest part, sometimes a late medieval enlargement.

Most German towns have an Altstadt, even though the ravages of war have destroyed many of them, especially during the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). In the "War of the Palatinian Succession" of 1688, the order to Brûlez le Palatinat! was executed by Mélac, devastating many cities and large parts of South Western Germany, like the Heidelberg castle.

Allied Strategic bombing during World War II destroyed nearly all large cities, with Dresden being the most prominent victim. Many smaller towns remained intact, for example Tübingen, Dinkelsbühl, Quedlinburg and Wismar. Some Altstadt parts in Freiburg, Berlin, Münster, Rothenburg ob der Tauber and famously Weimar and others have been restored. But most destroyed bigger German old towns were not reconstructed. Important old towns like those of Hildesheim, Braunschweig, Frankfurt, Kassel and Pforzheim were largely lost or only reconstructed in limited areas.

Recent efforts of Altstadt reconstructions can be found in Dresden (Neumarkt area), Potsdam (the old market and city palace) and Frankfurt (Römerberg around the Cathedral).


  • Examples of Altstadt districts in cities and towns 1
    • Austria 1.1
    • Germany 1.2
    • Switzerland 1.3
    • Other towns 1.4
  • Gallery 2

Examples of Altstadt districts in cities and towns




Other towns

Notable Altstadt districts in cities that formerly were inhabited also by a German-speaking population

Notable Altstadt districts in cities and towns that were destroyed

Staryi Sambir - "Old Sambir" was also known as Altstadt, equivalent to the Polish Staremiasto.


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