BONN, GERMANY: Situated by River Rhine, Bonn is the former capital of West Germany. But it is best known for being the birthplace of one of the famous composers of all time, Ludwig van Beethoven, despite his utmost disgust towards his hometown. For its rich culture and admiring atmosphere, Bonn makes a great day trip from nearby cities like Dusseldorf, Cologne, or Frankfurt.
TIME of TRAVEL: We visited Bonn in the first week of May 2013 while we were visiting other nearby cities in Germany like Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, and Heidelberg. The day turned out to be a nice one. Although little bit of cold and cloudy at times but luckily didn’t get any rain.
EATING and SHOPPING: After searching for a good restaurant to eat, we ended up having Sri Lankan food from a cart in Marktplatz. There is McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and other quick places in and around Marktplatz. Unlike other city centers, we didn’t see any place packed with restaurants here in Bonn, maybe we weren’t looking at the right place.
Bonn is very proud of its talented son Beethoven. You will find many souvenirs and other gifts items with his picture on it, as well as his composed music on CDs. City center is the hub for shopping and has almost all the popular stores along with many unique local places.
PLACES WE’VE VISITED: We stopped in Bonn while driving from Dusseldorf to Frankfurt. Our main interest was to see Beethoven’s house and museum but we ended up spending few hours in its city center. Other than the following places, we drove by two important buildings of Bonn while heading towards Frankfurt. First one was Villa Hammerschmidt which served as the residence of the German president when Bonn was the capital of West Germany, presently this is the secondary residence of the president. Second one was Palais Schaumburg, which was office of Germany’s chancellor and today it is used as a secondary headquarters for the chancellor.
1) STIFTSKIRCHE (COLLEGIATE CHURCH): Its bold brick exterior attracted us from outside, so we decided to check it out from inside. But the church was closed, only could peak thru and take some pictures from the other side of the gate. The church is located near City center but not inside the pedestrian zone.
2) BEETHOVEN-HAUS: Visiting this museum was our primary purpose of visiting Bonn. As I mentioned before, Bonn is the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven…one of the great composers of all time. Beethovan-Haus is the house where he was born in 1770 and is now a museum dedicated to his work and life. The Beethoven family lived for some years in this yellow house which today houses the world’s largest Beethoven collection with more than 150 original documents from the time he spent in Bonn and Vienna. His handwritings, music notes, instruments, and many of his belongings are in display here. The museum is well worth the visit and definitely a historical landmark of the city.
The museum is located in the city center. There are few levels to explore in the museum and took us about an hour for the tour. No photos are allowed inside the house but we could take some picture in the garden and the courtyard. Ticket is 5 euros per adult and 10 euros per family (with 2 kids and 2 adults). Opening hours are 10 – 6:30 pm everyday and 11 – 6:30 pm on Sundays. Everything in the museum is in German, we took English audio guide for 2 euros which is a must for non-Germans.
3) STIFTUNG-NAMEN-JESU-KIRCHE (CHURCH of the HOLY NAME of JESUS): This is a must-see church in Bonn. The interior design is very different from any other churches we’ve seen so far. The columns and ceiling decorated with blue, grey, and golden paints gave this church that unique look. It’s free to enter and is located in city center very close to Beethoven-Haus.
4) MUNSTERPLATZ and DAS BONNER MUNSTER: Munsterplatz is a big square in Bonn’s city center. A statue of Ludwig van Beethoven in front of beautiful post office adds boldness to this place.
Das Bonner Munster is a beautiful Romanesque basilica in Munsterplatz. This is one of the oldest churches in Germany, dating back to the 13th century. The basilica is beautiful inside and outside. Main altar is extravagant and very ornate. Nicely curved huge organ is also notable in this church.
5) MARKTPLATZ and ALTES RATHAUS (OLD TOWN HALL): Marktplatz is probably the liveliest square/place in the city center. Surrounded by many shops, cafes, restaurants this is THE place to hang out and watch locals pass by. There was a farmer’s market when we went there on a Friday and was open as late as 4pm. Marktplatz houses Altes Rathaus or old town hall of Bonn. This is an elegant white building at one end of the square.