Ravensburg is a town in Upper Swabia in Southern Germany, capital of the district of Ravensburg, Baden-Württemberg. Ravensburg was first mentioned in 1088, in the Middle Ages, it was an Imperial Free City and an important trading centre. The Great Ravensburg Trading Society owned shops and trading companies all over Europe, the historic town centre is still very much intact, including three town gates and over 10 towers of the medieval fortification. The all-white Mehlsack is a tower marking the Altstadt’s southern edge, a steep staircase leads up to the Veitsburg, a quaint baroque castle. The towns most popular festival is the Rutenfest in mid year, Ravensburg was first mentioned in writing in 1088. It was founded by the Welfs, a Frankish dynasty in Swabia who became later Dukes of Bavaria and Saxony, with the death of Conradin 1268 in Naples the Hohenstaufen line became extinct. Their former estates became imperial property of the Holy Roman Empire, like many other cities in Swabia, at the end of the 13th century Ravensburg became an Imperial Free City in 1276. The Great Ravensburg Trading Society was founded at Ravensburg and Konstanz around 1380 by the merchant families of Humpis, Mötteli, at first, the society mostly dealt in the production of linen and fustian. With the opening of one of the first paper mills north of the Alps in 1402 in Ravensburg, the Ravensburg stores also sold oriental spices, Mediterranean wines and Bohemian ores. After the liquidation of the Great Ravensburg Trading Society in 1530, the Thirty Years War caused a grave decline of the population. Swedish troops destroyed the old castle, now named Veitsburg after the St. Veit chapel at the castle grounds, following the Reformation a paritetic government emerged, meaning an equal distribution of public offices between the Catholic and Protestant confession. The city council was one half each Protestant and Catholic, for some time there was even a Catholic and a Protestant mayor at the same time, and the both confessions celebrated the village fair, the Rutenfest, apart from each other. This system was approved at the end of the Thirty Years War in the Peace of Westphalia which named four Paritetic Imperial Cities, Augsburg, Biberach, Dinkelsbühl, as a result, Ravensburg first became a Bavarian exclave within Württemberg. After a swap of estates between Bavaria and Württemberg it was incorporated in the Kingdom of Württemberg in 1810, since Ravensburg was impoverished and depopulated after the Thirty Years War, only a few new buildings were raised during the 18th and the early 19th century. The benefit of this economic stagnation was the conservation of an intact medieval city with nearly all towers. During World War II Ravensburg was strategically of no relevance, Ravensburg did not harbor any noteworthy arms industry, but was home to a big aid supplies center belonging to the Swiss Red Cross, so no air raid destroyed the historic city center. In the 1970s, Ravensburg increased in population and territory by the incorporation of communities like Eschach, Schmalegg. Ravensburg University of Cooperative Education was established in the town in 1978, in the 1980s, the Old Town was renovated and all transit traffic was banned from the city center
Ravensburg, seen from the west
Ravensburg landscape showing local landmarks: 23. Weinberge with Torkeln; 24. St. Christina; 25. Veitsburg; 26. Ravensburg with Mehlsack. Most of the hillsides are shown covered with vineyards. From Kloster Weißenau (stylized print by Johann Mathias Steidlin, 1734).