Visit us in Ravensburg and you will discover a beautiful and historic city. Besides its spectacular skyline of medieval towers, the city boasts a fascinating history. Since at least the end of the 9th century a continuous settlement with a Frankish estate at its center has existed here in the narrowest part of the Schussental valley. The city began to thrive when the House of Welf from the neighboring city of Altdorf – the oldest still existing European noble family – constructed a new castle strategically located above the city in the second half of the 11th century.
In the 13th century, political independence as a free imperial city followed the economic flourishing. This new-found independence was enabled by the departure of ducal domination when the House of Welf moved its power base to northern Germany. Neither the plague nor continuous war could stop Ravensburg becoming a pre-eminent European trade center. The city became a focal point for textile production and trade in southern Germany and was home to the illustrious “Grosse Ravensburger Handelsgesellschaft”, a trade corporation whose network of branches stretched across Europe to distant Valencia. The old city towers which still dominate the city’s skyline today stem from this time period.
The shift of trade towards Western Europe in the first half of the 16th century dealt a blow to Ravensburg’s trade empire. This, coupled with the devastation of the Thirty Years’ War, meant that the city could not reclaim its former glory during the Baroque period. Just like the other free imperial cities, Ravensburg lost its political independence in 1803 and fell first under the influence of Bavaria, before becoming part of the Kingdom of Württemberg in 1810. Industrialization in the mid-19th century brought new wealth to the city, which became a center for machine production within the Kingdom.
In the 20th century, further economic development was aided by Ravensburg’s status as the administrative center of a large district. Today, the city and its surroundings boast a healthy economic structure consisting of a mix of production, trade, and service. The unemployment rate is very low. Ravensburg is widely appreciated as a shopping city with a wide variety of specialized businesses in a unique historical ambiance.