Bielefeld (German pronunciation: [ˈbiːləfɛlt] ) is a city in the Ostwestfalen-Lippe Region in the north-east of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. With a population of 341,755,[3] it is also the most populous city in the administrative region (Regierungsbezirk) of Detmold and the 18th largest city in Germany.

Bielefeld as seen from Sparrenburg Castle
Bielefeld as seen from Sparrenburg Castle
Flag of Bielefeld
Coat of arms of Bielefeld
Districts of Bielefeld: Bielefeld-Mitte (downtown), Brackwede, Dornberg, Gadderbaum, Heepen, Jöllenbeck, Schildesche, Senne, Sennestadt and Stieghorst
Bielefeld is located in Germany
Bielefeld is located in North Rhine-Westphalia
Coordinates: 52°01′16″N 08°32′05″E / 52.02111°N 8.53472°E / 52.02111; 8.53472
StateNorth Rhine-Westphalia
Admin. regionDetmold
DistrictUrban district
Subdivisions10 districts
 • Mayor (2020–25) Pit Clausen[1] (SPD)
 • City257.8 km2 (99.5 sq mi)
118 m (387 ft)
 • City338,332
 • Density1,300/km2 (3,400/sq mi)
 • Urban
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
Postal codes
Dialling codes0521, 05202, 05203, 05205, 05206, 05208, 05209
Vehicle registrationBI
Logo of the City of Bielefeld

The historical centre of the city is situated north of the Teutoburg Forest line of hills, but modern Bielefeld also incorporates boroughs on the opposite side and on the hills. The city is situated on the Hermannsweg, a hiking trail which runs for 156 km along the length of the Teutoburg Forest.[4]

Bielefeld is home to a significant number of internationally operating companies, including Dr. Oetker, DMG Mori (former Gildemeister), Möller Group, Goldbeck and Schüco. It has a university and several technical colleges (Fachhochschulen). Bielefeld is also known for the Bethel Institution.


Old Town Hall in Bielefeld (1904)
Bielefeld City

Founded in 1214 by Count Hermann IV of Ravensberg to guard a pass crossing the Teutoburg Forest, Bielefeld was the "city of linen" as a minor member of the Hanseatic League, known for bleachfields into the 19th century.[5] Bielefeld was part of the Kingdom of Westphalia when it was created in 1807.[6] In 1815 it was incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia following the defeat of France and the Congress of Vienna.[7]

After the Cologne-Minden railway opened in 1849, the Bozi brothers constructed the first large mechanised spinning mill in 1851. The Ravensberg Spinning Mill was built from 1854 to 1857, and metal works began to open in the 1860s.[citation needed]

Founded in 1867 as a Bielefeld sewing machine repair company, Dürkoppwerke AG employed 1,665 people in 1892; it used Waffenamt code "WaA547" from 1938 to 1939 as the Dürkopp-Werke, and merged with other Bielefeld companies to form Dürkopp Adler AG in 1990.[citation needed]

Between 1904 and 1930, Bielefeld grew, opening a rebuilt railway station, a municipal theatre, and finally, the Rudolf-Oetker-Halle concert hall, renowned for its excellent acoustics.[8] The Dürkopp car was produced 1898–1927. After printing emergency money (German: Notgeld) in 1923 during the inflation in the Weimar Republic, Bielefeld was one of several towns that printed very attractive and highly collectable banknotes with designs on silk, linen and velvet. These pieces were issued by the Bielefeld Stadtsparkasse (town's savings bank) and were sent all around the world in the early 1920s. These pieces are known as Stoffgeld – that is, money made from fabric.[9]

The town's synagogue was burned in 1938 during the Kristallnacht pogrom carried out against Jewish population. In 1944, Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses of the USAAF bombed the gas works at Bielefeld on 20 September[10] and the marshaling yard on 30 September;[11] Bielefeld was bombed again on 7 October[12] and the RAF bombed the town on the night of 4/5 December.[13] On 17 January 1945, B-17s bombed the nearby Paderborn marshalling yard, and the railway viaduct in the suburb of Schildesche.[14] On 14 March the RAF bombed the viaduct again, wrecking it. This was the first use of the RAF's 10 tonne Grand Slam bomb. American troops entered the city in April 1945.[citation needed]

Due to the presence of a number of barracks built during the 1930s and its location next to the main East-West Autobahn in northern Germany, after World War II Bielefeld became a headquarters town for the fighting command of the British Army of the Rhine – BAOR (the administrative and strategic headquarters were at Rheindahlen near the Dutch border). Until the 1980s there was a large British presence in the barracks housing the headquarters of the British First Corps and support units, as well as schools, NAAFI shops, officers' and sergeants' messes and several estates of married quarters. The British presence was heavily scaled back after the reunification of Germany and most of the infrastructure has disappeared.[citation needed]

In 1973 the first villages on the south side of the Teutoburg Forest were incorporated.[citation needed]

Starting in 1994, the city has been featured in the humorous Bielefeld conspiracy which satirises conspiracy theories by claiming that Bielefeld does not exist.


Bielefeld is subdivided into the following ten (10) districts:

  • Bielefeld-Mitte (downtown)
  • Brackwede
  • Dornberg
  • Gadderbaum
  • Heepen
  • Jöllenbeck
  • Schildesche
  • Senne
  • Sennestadt
  • Stieghorst


Bielefeld has an oceanic climate (Cfb). The average annual high temperature is 14 °C (57 °F), the annual low temperature is 6 °C (43 °F), and the annual precipitation is 483 millimetres (19.02 inches).

Climate data for Bielefeld
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 5
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 35.3

Industry and education

Bielefeld Germany Linen Notgeld. Issued by Stadt-Sparkasse on 8 November 1923

Bielefeld was a linen-producing town, and in the early 1920s the Town's Savings Bank (Stadtsparkasse) issued money made of linen, silk and velvet. These items were known as 'stoffgeld'.

In addition to the manufacture of home appliances and various heavy industries, Bielefeld companies include Dr. Oetker (food manufacturing), Möller Group (leather products and plastics), Seidensticker (clothing and textiles) and Bethel Institution with 17.000 employees.

Bielefeld University was founded in 1969. The first professors included the well-known German sociologist Niklas Luhmann. Other institutions of higher education include the Theological Seminary Bethel (Kirchliche Hochschule Bethel) and the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences (German: Hochschule Bielefeld), which offers 21 courses in 8 different departments (agriculture and engineering are in Minden) and has been internationally recognized for its photography school.[15]


Population development since 1871
Largest groups of foreign residents (Excluding persons with dual citizenship.)[16]
Nationality Population (31 December 2017)
Turkey 11,429
Iraq 5,561
Greece 3,765
Poland 3,546
Syria 2,753
Serbia and Montenegro 2,704
Historical population
source:[17][circular reference]



Results of the second round of the 2020 mayoral election

The current Mayor of Bielefeld is Pit Clausen of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), who was elected in 2009 and re-elected in 2014 and 2020. The most recent mayoral election was held on 13 September 2020, with a runoff held on 27 September, and the results were as follows:

Candidate Party First round Second round
Votes % Votes %
Pit Clausen Social Democratic Party 53,836 39.7 57,803 56.1
Ralf Nettelstroth Christian Democratic Union 39,782 29.3 45,246 43.9
Kerstin Haarmann Alliance 90/The Greens 16,903 12.5
Jan Maik Schlifter Free Democratic Party 6,984 5.1
Onur Ocak The Left 5,503 4.1
Florian Sander Alternative for Germany 4,708 3.5
Lena Oberbäumer Die PARTEI 2,799 2.1
Rainer Ludwig League of Free Citizens 1,612 1.2
Gordana Rammert Pirate Party Germany 1,206 0.9
Sami Elias Alliance for Innovation and Justice 1,204 0.9
Michael Gugat Local Democracy in Bielefeld 958 0.7
Valid votes 135,765 99.4 103,049 99.4
Invalid votes 812 0.6 612 0.6
Total 136,577 100.0 103,661 100.0
Electorate/voter turnout 254,778 53.6 254,757 40.7
Source: State Returning Officer

City council

Results of the 2020 city council election

The Bielefeld city council governs the city alongside the Mayor. The most recent city council election was held on 13 September 2020, and the results were as follows:

Party Votes % +/- Seats +/-
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) 37,503 27.7   2.5 18   2
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 33,716 24.9   5.9 16   4
Alliance 90/The Greens (Grüne) 30,166 22.3   6.4 15   4
Free Democratic Party (FDP) 9,529 7.0   4.1 5   3
The Left (Die Linke) 8,278 6.1   1.2 4   1
Alternative for Germany (AfD) 4,630 3.4 New 2 New
Die PARTEI (PARTEI) 3,936 2.9 New 2 New
League of Free Citizens (BfB) 2,161 1.6   6.9 1   5
Close to the Citizens (Bürgernähe) 1,662 1.2   0.3 1 ±0
Alliance for Innovation and Justice (BIG) 1,339 1.0 New 1 New
Local Democracy in Bielefeld (LiB) 1,284 0.9 New 1 New
Independent Citizens' Forum (UBF) 505 0.4 New 0 New
Citizens' Movement for Civil Courage (BBZ) 444 0.3 New 0 New
Independent Jürgen Zilke 13 0.0 New 0 New
Valid votes 135,166 99.0
Invalid votes 1,319 1.0
Total 136,485 100.0 66 ±0
Electorate/voter turnout 254,778 53.6   2.6
Source: State Returning Officer


Two major autobahns, the A 2 and A 33, intersect in the south east of Bielefeld. The Ostwestfalendamm expressway connects the two parts of the city, naturally divided by the Teutoburg Forest. Bielefeld Hauptbahnhof, the main railway station of Bielefeld, is on the Hamm–Minden railway and is part of the German ICE high-speed railroad system. The main station for intercity bus services is Brackwede station.[18]

Bielefeld has a small airstrip, Flugplatz Bielefeld,[19] in the Senne district but is mainly served by the three larger airports nearby, Paderborn Lippstadt Airport, Münster Osnabrück Airport and Hannover Airport.

Bielefeld boasts a well-developed public transport system, served mainly by the companies moBiel[20] (formerly Stadtwerke Bielefeld – Verkehrsbetriebe) and "BVO".[21] The Bielefeld Stadtbahn has four major lines and regional trains connect different parts of the city with nearby counties. Buses also run throughout the area.

Main sights

Sparrenburg Castle is Bielefeld's characteristic landmark. It was built between 1240 and 1250 by Count Ludwig von Ravensberg. The 37-metre-high (121 ft) tower and the catacombs of the castle are open to the public.

The Old City Hall (Altes Rathaus) was built in 1904 and still serves the same function. Its façade reflects the so-called Weserrenaissance and features elements of various architectural styles, including Gothic and Renaissance. Though the mayor still holds office in the Old City Hall, most of the city's administration is housed in the adjacent New City Hall (Neues Rathaus).

Sparrenburg Castle
Old Market Place (Alter Markt)
The Kesselbrink outside the Old Town

The City Theatre (Stadttheater) is part of the same architectural ensemble as the Old City Hall, also built in 1904. It has a notable Jugendstil façade, is Bielefeld's largest theatre and home of the Bielefeld Opera. Another theatre (Theater am Alten Markt) resides in the former town hall building on the Old Market Square (Alter Markt), which also contains a row of restored 16th and 17th-century townhouses with noteworthy late Gothic and Weser Renaissance style façades (Bürgerhäuser am Alten Markt).

The oldest city church is Altstädter Nicolaikirche. It is a Gothic hall church with a height of 81.5 m (267 ft). It was founded in 1236 by the Bishop of Paderborn, and enlarged at the beginning of the 14th century. The church was damaged in World War II and later rebuilt. Three times a day, a carillon can be heard. The most valuable treasure of this church is a carved altar from Antwerp, decorated with 250 figures. A small museum housed within illustrates the history of the church up to World War II.

The largest church is the Neustädter Marienkirche, a Gothic hall church dating back to 1293, completed 1512. It stands 78 m (256 ft) tall and has a length of 52 m (171 ft). Historically speaking, this building is considered to be the most precious possession of the town. It was the starting point of the Protestant Reformation in Bielefeld in 1553. A valuable wing-altar with 13 pictures, known as the Marienaltar is also kept inside. The baroque spires were destroyed in World War II and later replaced by two unusually-shaped "Gothic" clocktowers. The altarpiece of the Bielefeld church Neustädter Marienkirche from around 1400 is among the most prominent masterpieces of artwork of the German Middle Ages. Two of the altarpieces, The Flagellation and The Crucifixion are now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Bielefeld is also the seat of the two largest Protestant social welfare establishments (Diakonie) in Europe, the Bethel Institution and the Evangelisches Johanneswerk.

Other important cultural sights of the region are the art museum (Kunsthalle), the Rudolf-Oetker-Halle concert hall, and the city's municipal botanical garden (Botanischer Garten Bielefeld). Bielefeld is home to the widely known Bielefelder Kinderchor, founded in 1932 by Friedrich Oberschelp as the first mixed children's choir in Germany. It became famous for its recordings and concerts of traditional German Christmas carols, filling the Rudolf-Oetker-Halle several times each season. Foreign tours have taken the choir to many European countries, and also the U.S. and Japan.

On Hünenburg there is an observation tower, next to a 164-metre-high (538 ft) radio tower.


Radrennbahn Bielefeld (2019)

Bielefeld is home to the professional football team DSC Arminia Bielefeld. Currently a member of 3. Liga in the 2023-24 season,[22] the club plays at the SchücoArena stadium in the west of the town centre.[23]

Bielefeld is home to the Radrennbahn Bielefeld bike racing track.[citation needed]

Notable people

Born before 1900

Christian Friedrich Nasse
Self-portrait Hermann Stenner 1911

Born 1900–1950

Friedrich von Bodelschwingh

Born 1951 and later

Twin towns – sister cities

Bielefeld is twinned with:[24]


  1. ^ Wahlergebnisse in NRW Kommunalwahlen 2020, Land Nordrhein-Westfalen, accessed 19 June 2021.
  2. ^ "Bevölkerung der Gemeinden Nordrhein-Westfalens am 31. Dezember 2022 – Fortschreibung des Bevölkerungsstandes auf Basis des Zensus vom 9. Mai 2011" (in German). Landesbetrieb Information und Technik NRW. Retrieved 20 June 2023.
  3. ^ "Aktuelle Einwohnerzahlen". 31 December 2021. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  4. ^ "Hiking in NRW: Hermannsweg". Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  5. ^ Hamburgh Mail, The Times 14 December 1816
  6. ^ The Times, 9 November 1809; Letters to the Editor
  7. ^ The Times, 26 August 1815; News
  8. ^ "Bielefeld – History". Archived from the original on 27 April 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
  9. ^ Many examples can be found on the "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 October 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) website, where a new catalogue listing all the variants of different coloured borders and edges made on the 100m piece is being compiled.
  10. ^ "Veterans History Project". Central Connecticut State University. 24 February 2005. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
  11. ^ McKillop, Jack. "Combat Chronology of the USAAF". USAAF. Archived from the original on 10 June 2007. Retrieved 25 May 2007.September 1944
  12. ^ McKillop, October 1944
  13. ^ "War Diary December 1944". Bomber Command 60th Anniversary. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
  14. ^ McKillop, January 1945
  15. ^ "University of Applied Sciences Bielefeld". Archived from the original on 14 September 2009. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  16. ^ "Aktuelle Einwohnerzahlen". Archived from the original on 25 August 2020. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  17. ^ Link
  18. ^ "Bielefeld: Stations". Archived from the original on 27 December 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  19. ^ "Flugplatz Bielefeld". Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
  20. ^ "Startseite –".
  21. ^ eCommerce, Deutsche Bahn AG, Unternehmensbereich Personenverkehr, Marketing. "Ostwestfalen-Lippe-Bus".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  22. ^ "CLUB OVERVIEW | SEASON 2020–2021". Bundesliga. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  23. ^ "Stadion". (in German). Arminia Bielefeld. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  24. ^ "Städtepartnerschaften". (in German). Bielefeld. Archived from the original on 2 October 2019. Retrieved 10 February 2021.

External links

External images
Bielefeld, Germany Live webcam

  Media related to Bielefeld at Wikimedia Commons