The medieval city of Siegburg is slowly shaking off its old traditions. Once known as a market town famous for its pottery making and the liquors produced by the hilltop Michaelsberg Abbey, it is now a placid commuter hub with an attractive riverside location. However, the city’s merchant heritage has not been completely forgotten. Every year, on the first Saturday of Advent, the Christmas markets open with a bang, and people travel from all over Europe to see the traditional street performers and to sample the local cheeses, meats, sweets, and wines. The Abbey may now be closed for business, but it still stands watch over the city, even as the residents continue to modernise.
Location: Siegburg–commuter belt
Siegburg is a city in its own right, but sits just outside the metropolis of Bonn, the former capital city of Germany. It is just 10 km away from Bonn city centre, and around 25 km south of the economic centre of Cologne. Excellent road and rail connections mean that Siegburg is easily reached from any direction by car, and long distance visitors can choose from a range of airports within a 60 km radius.
Business: Craft works and markets
For centuries, the Michaelsberg Abbey was at the centre of Siegburg’s economy–this is where people went to pray, to learn, and to buy the Abbey’s trademark liquor, the Siegburger Abtei-Likör. However, now the city’s economy has drastically modernised, with most residents working in the service and tech industries either locally or in the nearby cities of Cologne and Bonn. However, the Christmas markets bring many tourists and visitors back into the town.
Culture: Abbey life
The Michaelsberg Abbey was founded in 1064 and became the basis of the settlement of Siegburg. Beer and liquor were brewed here for 500 years, and the monastery became a centre for learning and the arts during the medieval period. The 1,000-year old monastery remains on its original site today, and it is open to the public for prayer and guided tours. However, the 12 Benedictine monks were forced to move out in 2010 due to financial constraints.
Activities: Dive on dry land
Siegburg is home to an impressive dive school, Dive4Life, despite being more than 300 km from the nearest coast. The Dive4Life training school trains children, pleasure divers, and professionals in its 20-m deep pool. Fans of outdoor pursuits can explore the hills around the old monastery, or take a boat trip along the Sieg or Agger Rivers.