72km (45 miles) S of Düsseldorf, 27km (17 miles) S of Cologne, 174km (108 miles) NW of Frankfurt
From the 13th century to the 18th century, Bonn was the capital of the prince-electors of Cologne, who had the right to participate in the election of the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The city is also proud of its intellectual and musical history—Beethoven was born here; composer Robert Schumann and his wife, pianist Clara Schumann, lived here; and Karl Marx and Heinrich Heine studied in Bonn's university.
Until 1949, Bonn was a sleepy little university town, basking in its 2,000 years of history. Then suddenly it was shaken out of this quiet life and made capital of the Federal Republic of Germany. But in 1991, after the reunification of Germany, Berlin again became the official capital.
Bonn did not return to being a sleepy little university town, though. Several ministries remain in Bonn (defense and agriculture) and Bonn still serves as the second official residence of all major German political figures and bureaus. Bonn is also still Germany's United Nations city, with 18 UN organizations calling it home. Bonn has a mixed population of young and old, conservative and liberal, due to the existence of the university and several corporations' head offices. The city has a more quiet nightlife than Hamburg or Berlin, but tourists who are interested in the arts or history will find everything they need here.
Bonn is also within sight of the Siebengebirge (Seven Mountains), a volcanic mountain range rising up on the eastern bank of the Rhine. The local wine produced on these slopes is known as Drachenblut (Dragon's Blood) and is better than most German reds.