What's special about Freiburg?: Freiburg is a beautiful historic city in Baden-Württemberg in south-west Germany, in the heart of the major Baden wine-growing region and on the edge of the Black Forest, and near the borders of France and Switzerland. See an interactive map.
It has a population of around 230,000 and has 12 twin towns, including Guildford - see its official twin town list. It is famous for its warm and sunny climate and for its advanced environmental practices. Freiburg is said to be the most desirable place to live in Germany and is now a major tourist centre.
A medieval success: Freiburg was founded in 1120 as a free market town – hence its name, which translates roughly as "free (or independent) town". It became very rich in the 13th and 14th centuries thanks to its silver mines. It developed into a major commercial, intellectual, and ecclesiastical centre of the upper Rhine region, with a distinguished university, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, dating from 1457 and a beautiful cathedral, Freiburg Münster, completed in 1513.
From the darkness of the Nazis to the sunshine of worldwide friendship: The city was heavily bombed during the second World War, and the medieval centre – with the happy exception of the Münster – had to be reconstructed. Freiburg’s Nazi past and its wartime experiences led directly to its subsequent international outlook and desire to make real friends across the globe: a moving film Weltweite Freundschaften/Worldwide Friendships (see an extract here) commissioned by Freiburg City Council, describes this and explains the city's 12 (so far) town twinnings.
A local legend: Freiburg has preserved its medieval Bächle, a series of gutters or channels which take cooling fresh water from the river Dreisam throughout the old city. It is said that if you accidentally fall or step into a Bächle, you will marry a Bobbele (a Freiburger).