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 and continued to exist through medieval times. 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 to construct a series of Baroque buildings characterising the townscape to date. 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 few relevance in these years.
In 1949 Bonn was declared the provisional capital of West Germany. This status should be valid until a German reunification, that should reestablish Berlin as the capital of Germany. The decision for Bonn was made due to the advocacy of Konrad Adenauer, who was a citizen of near Cologne.
The German reunification in 1990 made Berlin the nominal capital of Germany again. However, this decision did not yet imply that the republic's political institutions should 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, inofficial capital. Because of the required construction work, the move took several years (until 1999) to complete.