Freiburg is considered one of the most popular cities in southwest Germany. Visitors, newcomers and long-time residents alike fall for Freiburg’s charms – the sunniest, warmest and southernmost major city in Germany. Sitting outside in the sunshine during the hot summer months while enjoying a coffee or a pint of lager, you may well think yourself in Italy (or, after four pints of beer and with the help of vivacious imagination, in Australia). After all, in August 2003 the temperature reached more than 40 degrees Celsius! So the citizens can count themselves lucky to have the so-called Bächle, a Medieval system of little canals filled with cool, fresh water from the Dreisam river.
The warm climate, alongside the many hours of sunshine, was a major factor for so many solar engineering companies setting up their businesses in the city. The entire region is well-known for its innovative power in this branch of industry, not only in Germany but also abroad. Freiburg is considered a textbook example of sustainable urban development. The fact that Freiburg was the first-ever German city to elect a member of the Green Party for its mayor is perhaps not a coincidence.
The many students also contribute to the relaxed atmosphere in the city, which altogether counts 226,000 inhabitants: currently there are more than 33,000 students, either pursuing a degree at the university or at one of the other colleges. Students make up fifteen per cent of the entire population… and counting, even though affordable accommodation is scarce.
The university and the university hospital, alongside various federal state authorities, are the city’s largest employers. Wine-growing also plays a part, as Freiburg is situated between three major wine-producing areas: the Markgräflerland, the Kaiserstuhl and Tuniberg.
Considering all these amenities, it is hardly surprising that tourism is booming: in 2015, the number of overnight stays amounted to 1.4 million. Freiburg is becoming increasingly popular not just with Germans but especially with visitors from overseas. Most tourists are currently from Switzerland, France and the US.
Text: Jan Schwab