Friedrichshafen (German pronunciation: [fʁiːdʁiçsˈhafn̩]) is a city on the northern shoreline of Lake Constance (the Bodensee) in Southern Germany, near the borders of both Switzerland and Austria. It is the district capital (Kreisstadt) of the Bodensee district in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg. Friedrichshafen has a population of about 58,000.

Friedrichshafen was established in 1811 as part of the new Kingdom of Württemberg, an ally of France during the Napoleonic Wars. It was named for King Frederick I of Württemberg, who privileged it as a free port and transshipment point for the kingdom's Swiss trade. Friedrichshafen was created from the former city of Buchhorn, whose coat of arms it adopted. The new city also incorporated the former village of Hofen, whose monastery was refurbished to serve as the summer residence of the Württemberger kings.

King William I continued improving the city, including the purchase of the steamship Wilhelm. Ministers and senior officials built villas around the royal castle, and many foreign tourists visited the city as well, including Tsar Alexander II of Russia. The first track laid by the Royal Württemberg State Railways connected the port to Ravensburg in 1847. Heilbronn was connected in 1850, and a ferry to Romanshorn in Switzerland began operating in 1869. Despite their previous opposition to Prussia, under the federal structure of the German Empire, Württemberg and Friedrichshafen continued to enjoy some special privileges following their incorporation into Germany following the Franco-Prussian War.

Ferdinand von Zeppelin established his famous dirigible factory at the end of the 19th century. The 128m-long LZ1 airship rose from its mooring on July 2, 1900. Other aviation companies, including Maybach, also arose in Friedrichshafen to help service the industry, which received a major impetus from World War I. Following the Treaty of Versailles, the Kingdom of Württemberg was dissolved but the deposed royal family continued in their possession of their castle in Friedrichshafen, despite a workers' revolution there in November, 1918.

Friedrichshafen served the Nazi regime as a resort for workers. The presence of Zeppelin, Maybach, Dornier, and Zahnradfabrik made it an important German industrial center during World War II. Between 1942 and 1945, the factories used slave labor of hundreds of concentration camp prisoners from Dachau and Dora-Mittelbau. They were housed first at Zeppelin's hangar and then, following its destruction during a raid, the V-2 factory Raderach. The prisoners were also used to dig tunnels near Friedrichshafen to protect production sites from the repeated bombing.

Between June 1943 and February 1945, the city was targeted for Allied bombing attacks. The most accurate took place on April 28, 1944, and destroyed most of the old town center. Approximately two-thirds of the city was destroyed over the course of the war.

Following World War II, Friedrichshafen was part of the French occupation zone before its incorporation into Baden-Württemberg, West Germany. In the aftermath of the war, Maybach and many other aviation companies turned to automobile construction, while Claudius Dornier purchased Theodor Kober's failed Flugzeugbau Friedrichshafen and established Dornier Flugzeugwerke. Owing to the provisions of the Versailles treaty, many of the planes were initially produced in Italy, Spain, the Netherlands or Japan, but resumed work at its Friedrichshafen and other German factories following the rise of the Nazi regime. The 1937 Hindenburg disaster and a subsequent embargo on sending American helium to Germany, however, effectively ended the production of German dirigibles. The German aeronautics industry was again banned for many years after the war, and companies again failed or shifted production.

The city's principal recovery dates to its establishment as the administrative seat of the Bodenseekreis district of West Germany, in 1973. The last French troops withdrew from their "Durand de Villers" Quarter (Quartier Durand de Villers) in 1992.

Airship construction in the first third of the 20th century attracted considerable industry and contributed significantly to Friedrichshafen's relative prosperity. Friedrichshafen is best known for having been home to the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin Airship Company, the aircraft manufacturer Dornier Flugzeugwerke, ZF Friedrichshafen, a manufacturer of transmission systems and MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH, the engine manufacturing company founded by Wilhelm Maybach.

Ferdinand von Zeppelin, who was born in Konstanz (Constance), originally had his airships built in a floating airship hangar on the lake which could be aligned with the wind to support the difficult launch procedure of rigid airship flight. Today there is a large Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen sited near the lake shore. In recent years the company ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH, also located in Friedrichshafen, is the constructor of small, semi-rigid airships designed by the Zeppelin firm, named (called Zeppelin NT), by using modern technology. These airships can be booked for sightseeing tours above Lake Constance.

Airbus Defence and Space maintains a site outside Friedrichshafen in Immenstaad am Bodensee, which is considered today as the successor of the Dornier Flugzeugwerke company. The Dornier Museum is located at the Friedrichshafen Airport and displays restored Dornier aviation technology as well as modern space technology.

AERO Friedrichshafen is a yearly aviation conference that hosted an attendance of 33,400 in 2011, and 30,800 in 2012. Aero 2013 took place on 24–27 April 2013 at Friedrichshafen Airport.[2]

Rolls-Royce Power Systems AG (MTU), the German engine manufacturing company owned by Rolls-Royce is also located in Friedrichshafen.

Apart from industry and tourism, various international regular trade fairs, such as Aero (aviation technology), Interboot (water sports), OutDoor, Motorradwelt (Motorbikes), Eurobike (bicycles) and Tuning World Bodensee (car tuning) are important economical factors. There is a large fair ground (Messe Friedrichshafen) near Friedrichshafen airport where all these and many more trade fairs take place every year. Furthermore, the Graf-Zeppelin-Haus cultural centre has become a popular location for congresses, conferences, musical and other events.

Friedrichshafen is the location for Europe's largest ham radio convention.[3]

Zeppelin University, a private research university, is the only private university in the state of Baden-Württemberg to have received the rare right to confer PhD titles to its students. Only founded in 2003, its Cultural & Communication Management programme has been already ranked the best university programme in that field in German speaking countries, according to the prestigious CHE ranking. The programme in Public Management & Governance was ranked 4th while the programme in Corporate Management & Economics was ranked 6th among all examined German, Austrian, Swiss and Dutch universities (figures from 2011). Zeppelin University holds the title of the 'most committed' university in Germany with regard to civil society issues (Stifterverband für die deutsche Wissenschaft/Stiftung Mercator 2011). Ravensburg University of Cooperative Education also has a campus in Friedrichshafen.

VfB Friedrichshafen is a professional volleyball team based on Friedrichshafen. It is one of the top teams in Bundesliga.[4][5]

Friedrichshafen Stadt station enjoys train services at regular intervals to Lindau and Ulm, as well as to Basel in Switzerland.

A car ferry service links Friedrichshafen to Romanshorn in Switzerland, and various other towns around the lake can also be reached by ferry. Since 2005, a fast Catamaran ship connection has been in service between Friedrichshafen and Konstanz.[6]

Friedrichshafen has a local airport called Friedrichshafen Airport which offers, among other services, daily international connections provided mainly by Lufthansa CityLine and Turkish Airlines.[7] The Zeppelin manufacturing company Luftschiffbau Zeppelin (LZ) was re-established in 1993, and a commercial airline Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei (DZR) began flying passenger service from Friedrichshafen Airport in 2001. As of 2012, 12 scheduled routes were offered with additional flights to selected cities.

The nearest big cities are Konstanz, Ravensburg, Bregenz, St. Gallen, Ulm, Munich, Zürich, and Stuttgart.

Friedrichshafen is twinned with:[8]

The relationships to the twin cities are supported by the local government together with twin city associations. In Friedrichshafen there had been founded the associations Freundeskreis Polozk, Peoria Club,[9] Arbeitskreis S.Dié[10] and Amici di Imperia.[11]

Friedrichshafen has friendly relations with:


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