History Augsburg is more than twice as old as Nuremberg or Munich, tracing its origins to the military base of Augusta Vindelicum established in the year 15 BCE by the Roman generals Drusus and Tiberius, sent by their stepfather the Emperor Augustus to quell the Alpine and Celtic peoples.
The nascent city was named capital of the Roman province of Rhaetia shortly afterwards, growing in importance for its military significance within the Roman empire and its commanding location with access to all the main Alpine passes. Augsburg lies at the crossroads of strategically critical east-west and north-south continental axes. Later, medieval trade routes would follow the course of the Roman roads of antiquity. In the 13th century, Augsburg became an Imperial Free City, answerable to no-one save the Holy Roman Emperor himself.
Augsburg was to retain that privileged status for 500 years, enjoying a peak of prosperity in the 15th and 16th centuries on the back of the banking and metal industries operated by the great merchant families of Fugger and Welser. The unimaginably wealthy Fuggers, often thought of as German Medicis, made Augsburg a place of opulence and power, famous around the world as a city beloved of the Emperor and home to the Imperial Diet.
With the establishment of the Fuggerei in 1521, Jakob Fugger founded the world's oldest social housing project for needy citizens who had fallen on hard times through no fault of their own. The aftermath of the Thirty Years' War saw a blossoming of the city's craft trades, primarily in gold, silver and printing. From the late 18th century, the city became home to important textile and machine engineering industries. Augsburg has been a bishopric for more than 1,250 years, and celebrated its 2,000th birthday in 1985.
Portrait Situated 57 kilometres north-west of Munich, Augsburg lies in the estuary formed by the Alpine rivers Lech and Wertach. Alongside Trier and Kempten, it is one of the three oldest cities in Germany. The Alpine foehn wind, conveying dry air from the south all year round, contributes to many days with wonderfully clear views with the mountains visible in the distance under famous "Bavarian blue" skies.
Augsburg was home to the Holbein family of painters, to composer Leopold Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's father, and the poet and author Bertolt Brecht. The city's famous sons also include Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the engine bearing his name. Linde made the first refrigerator here, and Messerschmitt operated the first production line for jet-engined planes.
Augsburg is the only German city with its own official public holiday, the Augsburger Friedensfest (Peace Festival) on 8 August. Augsburg thus enjoys more public holidays than any other town or region in the country. While mindful of a rich historical tradition, the city and its surrounding region today are dominated by business, science, arts and culture. Augsburg is a University city and the third-biggest commercial and industrial zone in Bavaria.
A total of around 45,000 inhabitants, or some 16.7 percent of the population, are non-Germans, principally from Turkey, Italy and the former Yugoslavia. Counting in a further 50,000 repatriates of German origin from the former Soviet Union, Augsburg is home to some 90,000 citizens with a migrant background. The fame of the Augsburger Puppenkiste (Puppet Theatre), a marionette show aimed at young and old alike, has spread far beyond the borders of Germany. A strong TV presence has made the characters household names, recognised and loved by generations of German children. The city's most famous culinary specialty is Augsburger Zwetschendatschi, a typical tray-baked cake made of shortcrust pastry or sour dough densely covered in halved damson plums.
Sights Augsburg Town Hall
Football After 23 seasons in the third division, FC Augsburg were finally promoted to Bundesliga 2 in 2006. The new Augsburg Arena is scheduled for completion in 2009, when it will replace the 50-year-old Rosenaustadion as the city's largest sporting venue. The venerable ground helped nurture greats such as Helmut Haller, Bernd Schuster and Karl-Heinz Riedle. Elsewhere, the Eiskanal is an artificial canal feature constructed as the kayaking and canoeing venue for the 1972 Munich Olympics.
President OC Venue Office
Dr Rainer Koch (President Bavarian Football Association)