Bonn is a city in Germany (Population (2002 est): 310 930), in the Bundesland of North Rhine-Westphalia, located ca. 20 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine. It was the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1949 to 1994.
The history of the city dates back to Roman times. About 10 BC the Romans constructed a bridge across the Rhine close to a place called "Bonna". After the Roman defeat in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest this small camp was enlarged to become a fort for 7000 legionnaires.
The fort became a town which remained after the Romans left. Between the 11th and 13th centuries, the Romanesque style Munster (cathedral) was built, and in 1597 it became the capital of the principality of Cologne. The town gained more influence and grew considerably. The elector Clemens August (ruled 1724-1761) ordered the construction of a series of Baroque buildings which still give the city its character. Another memorable ruler was Max Franz (ruled 1784-1794), who founded the university and the spa quarter of Bad Godesberg. In addition he was a patron of the young Ludwig van Beethoven, who was born in the city in 1770; the elector financed the composer's first journey to Vienna.
In 1794 the town was seized by French troops. It became a part of the Napoleonicic Empire. In 1815 Bonn was taken by Prussia and remained a Prussian city until 1945. The town was of little relevance in these years.
The German reunification in 1990 made Berlin the nominal capital of Germany again. However, this decision did not necessarily imply that the republic's political institutions would also move. This was only concluded by the Bundestag (Germany's parliament) on June 20, 1991, after a heated debate. While the government and parliament moved, as a compromise, some of the ministries largely remained in Bonn, with only the top officials in Berlin. There is presently no plan to move these departments, so Bonn will remain a second, unofficial capital. Because of the necessary construction work, the move took several years (until 1999) to complete.