Altstadt is the German language word for "old town", and generally refers to the historical town or city centre within the old town or 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 a few years younger than the oldest part, e. g. a late medieval enlargement.

Old Town of Regensburg, Germany (UNESCO world heritage)
Rapperswil Castle and Altstadt of Rapperswil (SG) located at Lake Zürich, Switzerland


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 (Nine Years' War) 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 the exception of Regensburg and Heidelberg. Many smaller towns remained intact, for example Bamberg, Konstanz, Passau, Tübingen, Dinkelsbühl, Quedlinburg and Wismar. Some Altstadt parts in Freiburg, Erfurt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, 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 townsEdit




Other townsEdit

Notable Altstadt districts in cities that used to be inhabited also by a German-speaking population:

Notable Altstadt districts in cities and towns that were destroyed:


Coordinates: 47°29′56″N 8°43′43″E / 47.49889°N 8.72861°E / 47.49889; 8.72861