Traditional houses on market square
Coat of arms
|• Mayor||Martin G. Cohn (SPD)|
|• Total||48.73 km2 (18.81 sq mi)|
|Elevation||386 m (1,266 ft)|
|• Density||1,000/km2 (2,600/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+01:00 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+02:00 (CEST)|
|Vehicle registration||BB / LEO|
Leonberg is a town in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg about 16 km (10 mi) to the west of Stuttgart, the state capital. About 45,000 people live in Leonberg, making it the third-largest borough in the rural district (Landkreis) of Böblingen (after Sindelfingen and Böblingen to the south).
Leonberg is most famous for its picturesque market square, the centuries-old annual horse market, its past role as seat of one of Württemberg's first parliaments, and the Pomeranzen Garden – Germany's only remaining terraced garden which dates back to the late Renaissance.
Leonberg lies on the east bank of the Glems River on the lower slopes of a prominent hill known locally as Engelberg (literally: "Angel Hill"). The Glems flows into Leonberg from the southeast before turning northwest until it reaches the district of Eltingen. Here, it turns northeast into the western part of the old town, carving its way along the valley to the district of Höfingen before flowing northeast towards Ditzingen. For administrative purposes, the northern districts of Höfingen and Gebersheim belong to Strohgäu.
Leonberg is surrounded by these communities (clockwise, starting from the north):
Ditzingen and Gerlingen (districts of Ludwigsburg), Stuttgart, and then the Böblingen rural districts of Magstadt, Renningen, and Rutesheim.
Leonberg merged with the neighbouring town of Eltingen in 1938, which now flows seamlessly into the former old town. Administrative reforms in 1975 also resulted in the districts of Gebersheim, Höfingen, and Warmbronn becoming part of Leonberg. Central Leonberg encompasses Silberberg, Ramtel, Gartenstadt, and the residential neighbourhoods of Eichenhof, Glemseck, Hinter Ehrenberg, Mahdental, and Rappenhof. The district of Höfingen also includes the residential neighbourhoods of Tilgshäusleshof and Wannenhof.
Although incorporated into Leonberg in 1975, Gebersheim, Höfingen, and Warmbronn also count as separate constituencies in local elections.
The town of Levinberch was founded by Ulrich I, Count of Württemberg in 1248, where Leonberg still stands today. The position on the brow of the hill was chosen as a defence from enemies to the west, the towns of Markgröningen, Weil der Stadt, and the counts in Tübingen and Calw. At the time, the town was surrounded by stone fortifications with the count's castle in the southwest. A moat stood to the east, leading to two gates complete with towers and swing bridge. The gates and almost all of the walls were demolished in and after 1814/1815, leaving only the coat of arms, still on display in the Altes Rathaus (old town hall)). The moat was filled in 1786.
The only surviving building from the old town fortifications was the "Stonehouse" near the uppermost tower, probably because it was the only one used for housing and was not destroyed by the great fire of 1498. Today, it has become the Schwarzer Adler guesthouse and is a defining feature of the old town. According to an analysis carried out in 1999, the wooden-timber gabled roof on top of the Schwarzer Adler was built in the 15th century. Three stories high, it is one of the largest and oldest original timber-gable roofs in southern Germany.
A great fire swept through the town in 1498, destroying 46 houses and making around 200 people homeless. Most of the homeless left the town.
During the Holy Roman Empire, Leonberg fell under the jurisdiction of Esslingen before finally becoming part of Württemberg in 1383, when it first gained administrative rights. The population of Leonberg was halved during the Thirty Years' War as a result of the bubonic plague.
On 16 November 1457, the first Württemberg parliament (Württemberg-Urach) convened in Leonberg to administer the custodianship of the underaged Eberhardt V. Although no documentary evidence confirms the fact, many locals claim this parliament met in the "Stonehouse".
During the era of witch hunts, the Leonberg governor Lutherus Einhorn sent 15 women to trial under suspicion of witchcraft. Eight women were condemned to death with the full assent of the Leonberg judiciary and the local community.
One of the most famous Württemberg witch trials in Leonberg took place in 1615 and involved Katharina Kepler, mother of the royal astronomer Johannes Kepler. Kepler's mother was nearly tortured to death in the cellars of the "Stonehouse" before being transferred to Güglingen, where she was subsequently released in October 1620.
In 1846, the Leonberger dog breed was first successfully registered and named after the town.
After the rise of the Nazis in 1933, a number of bloody street battles were fought between stormtrooper (Sturmabteilung) followers, mostly backed by residents from Leonberg who attacked supporters of the German communist party, mainly resident in Eltingen. In 1938, Eltingen – a staunchly proletarian community of small landowners - was finally merged with the more bourgeois Leonberg.
Later the same year, the Engelberg Tunnel - Germany's first motorway tunnel - was completed. During the Second World War, the tunnel was used regularly for producing and storing aeroplane parts made by prisoners held in Leonberg concentration camp, an outlying camp belonging to Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp in Alsace. The old tunnel was replaced by a new tunnel in the 1990s. Above the tunnel now stands a memorial to the people who died in Leonberg concentration camp.
By 1961, the population of Leonberg passed 20,000. Boundary reforms in 1973 resulted in rural districts of Leonberg being merged with the rural districts of Böblingen in the south and Enzkreis/Ludwigsburg in the north. Leonberg has existed in its current form since 1975.
In 2004, Leonberg became one of the first communities in Germany to switch its office systems to Linux and start using freeware.
The population figures are estimates, census results (¹) or official updates of the respective statistical offices (only primary residences).
¹ Census results
The old town dates back to the Middle Ages, and includes a historical market square lined by restored half-timbered houses. Standing among them is the old Town Hall (Rathaus) which, with the water tower on Engelberg hill, is considered a defining feature of Leonberg. The birth house of Schelling and the huge Zum Schwarzen Adler guesthouse - the first documented seat of parliament of the County of Württemberg - are also key features of the old town. Further attractions include the Evangelical Church (Stadtkirche) with its Roman and Gothic architecture, and the former Latin school (which was attended by the astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler). The old Latin school now houses the town museum and Schelling memorial chapel. The town park contains a variety of modern sculptures. On the eastern outskirts of Leonberg is the Engelberg Tunnel.
Leonberg's Pomeranzen Garden (Pomeranzengarten) is Germany's only remaining terraced garden. Named after the German word for "bitter orange", the garden originally dates back to the height of the Renaissance. It was planted in 1609 next to the palace (Schloss) as a retreat for widows of the Württemberg duchy. In 1742, it was converted to a fruit and vegetable garden until it was restored in 1980 using the original plans of Heinrich Schickhardt.
The Michaelskirche in Eltingen was built in 1487 with a single nave overlooked by rib vaulting and a retracted chancel. The tower is adorned by late Gothic acoustic windows and a polygonal spire.
Other sights include:
Leonberg once fell into the bishopric of Speyer and was part of an area governed by archdeacon St. Trinitatis. As an early member of Württemberg, in 1535, Duke Ulrich introduced the Reformation. For many centuries, Leonberg was predominantly Protestant. In 1552, the deanery was moved to Leonberg with the Stadtkirche becoming the Dekanatskirche. After the Second World War, the religious community in Leonberg grew quickly as people moved into the area. The Protestant community in the district of Eltingen also dates back to the Reformation, as it does in Gebersheim, Höfingen, and Warmbronn.
After the reformation, Catholicism first reappeared in Leonberg in the late 19th century with the first parish set up in 1946 shortly followed by St. Johannes Baptista church in 1950. Today, the Catholic community belongs to the deanery of Böblingen within the bishopric of Rottenburg-Stuttgart.
Apart from the two main German religions, "free churches" such as the United Methodist Church (Pauluskirche), the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the Immanuel Community of Leonberg also are present, as is a New Apostolic Church.
Since the latest round of local elections in June 2004, the district council has had 34 seats distributed as: The distribution of the seats among the various parties and groups since the election of June 2009 looks like this, changes over 2004 in brackets:
A head of local administration - an executive official called the Schultheiss - was first appointed in Leonberg in 1304. In 1425, this was replaced by a Vogt, a type of reeve. By 1535, responsibility was shared by a senior and junior governor, both of whom were selected by a local judge. After the 15th century, two burgomasters were replaced by a type of senior district magistrate (Oberamtmann) in 1759. A town council has existed in Leonberg since 1312; in 1523, it had eight members.
In 1930, the interim designation of town mayor was replaced by the now common burgomaster whose status was raised to Oberbürgermeister (senior mayor) in 1963. He or she is elected for eight years through a direct vote, and chairs the borough council.
Local companies include
Leonberg falls within the wine-growing area of Württemberg called Remstal-Stuttgart. Most of the local vineyards lie to the south of the town in the Feinau area and on the Ehrenberg slopes along the Glems river.
Leonberg is connected to the German motorway system (Autobahn) by the nearby A8 going from west to east (Karlsruhe to Stuttgart, Ulm, München) and eventually Salzburg in Austria and beyond), as well as the A81 going north to south (Würzburg to Stuttgart and Singen). The two motorways meet at the Leonberg intersection which lies to the south of the town. The nearest motorway junctions are called Leonberg-Ost (Leonberg East) and Leonberg-West (Leonberg West), the latter having been newly constructed and opened in September 2009.
Leonberg is served by the local transport network of Stuttgart and nearby towns, including (since 1978) line S6 of the Stuttgart S-Bahn running from Weil der Stadt via Leonberg to Stuttgart city centre. As well as Leonberg station, there are S-Bahn stops in the districts of Höfingen and Silberberg (stop name: Rutesheim). A number of bus lines belonging to local and Stuttgart networks (VVS) also travel through or terminate in Leonberg.
Leonberg has been a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) since March 2008, following the suit of other German cities. This affects all vehicles entering the borough of Leonberg "Environmental zone" (Umweltzone), including vehicles from abroad.
All types of schools common to Germany are found in Leonberg:
The district of Böblingen funds a vocational college plus the Karl-Georg-Haldenwang-Schule for the disabled.
Leonberg is also home to an Evangelical College for Care Workers.
Leonberg's famous horse market takes place every year in February. The traditional fair is staged in the old town centring on the old market square. The first horse market was arranged with the permission of Duke Frederick Charles on 15 February 1684. To mark the occasion, a ceremonial procession marches through the old town on the second Tuesday of the month. The horse market attracts huge crowds and is so important to local tradition that civil servants are granted half a day's leave to attend. Schools in Leonberg are closed for the whole day. In modern times the scope of the fair has been expanded to include sports, seminars on horseriding and breeding, an amusement fair and a flea market.
The theatre in the Spitalhof stages musicals, plays, amateur theatre, concerts and children's events with regular visits from touring theatres also performing in the town auditorium (Stadthalle).
Music societies have a strong tradition in Leonberg with the oldest society, 'Lyra Eltingen', dating back to 1897. The Leonberg symphony orchestra was founded in 1970 as a youth orchestra. Today it comprises 70 musicians and is conducted by Alexander Adiarte.
There is a children's music school in Leonberg which provides tuition in partnership with the Lyra Eltingen music association and Höfingen music association. The Villa Musica also offers tuition through the Stadtkapelle and Liederkranz music associations.
Leonberg is twinned with: