Petersberg

Petersberg, Siebengebirge, Königswinter
Grand Hotel

Maybe you have heard the correspondent from Germany speaking about “The Petersberg close to Bonn”, when reporting about an international conference being held in the hotel on Mount Petersberg. The two UN conferences on Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002 took place here and, in November 2005, the first “Partnership with Africa” conference. However, the hotel is open to the public.

His Excellency Mount Petersberg indeed is interesting, not only because of its diplomatic tasks. The Seven Mountains are of volcanic origin. Most hills came into being by large volcanic eruptions during the Oligocene, the Petersberg with a final volcanic eruption in the Miocene.

Its history takes us from the Stone Age until today. The Petersberg and its surroundings were settled early; tools from the Neolithic and parts of axes and spears from the Bronze Age were found. The “Mondscheinwiese” (Moonlight Lawn) probably was the location of a prehistoric village. Around 100 AD there was a fortified settlement on the Petersberg mountain, a part of the circular settlement wall still remains.

In 1189, the Arch Bishops of Cologne called Cistercian monks into the Seven Mountains, who built a church to the honor of Mary on Mount Petersberg, which back then was known as Stromberg, and dedicated it to St. Peter, and from then on the mountain was called Petersberg. Three years later, they left Mount Petersberg and settled in a valley nearby, the valley of Heisterbach. In 1312, the church on the Petersberg became a place of pilgrimage, as well as the Monastery of Heisterbach. For centuries, people came here, and you see a lot of stone crosses on the ways up to the top of the Petersberg. Yet, the medieval church has not remained. In 1765, the abbot of Heisterbach had a new chapel built in baroque style. Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher got married here.

During the first years after World War II, the victorious powers reserved the right to themselves to control German policy and formed the Allied High Commission which from 1949 to 1952 took residence in the hotel on top of Mount Petersberg. Here the important “Petersberg Protocol” was negotiated that opened the way into economic reconstruction and independence. By the way: while the Allied High Commissioners had their residence on Mount Petersberg, they often used the cog train, which was restored for that purpose.

Between 1954 and 1973, the hotel hosted the state guests of the Federal Government, among them the Shah of Persia, Reza Pahlevi with his wife back then, Soraya, in 1955 and then again in 1967 with his third wife Farah Diba, in 1965 Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, and in 1973 the Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Leonid Breshnev. Today the old hotel doesn’exist anymore, in its place, a new guest house for the Federal Government was built. It modeled on the old hotel, saving some of the old stones. This hotel, too, has had it’s share of prominent guests, among them Hillary and Bill Clinton – a jogging trail is named by him.

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