Friedberg (Friedberg in der Wetterau) is a town and the capital of the Wetteraukreis district, in Hessen, Germany. It is located 16 miles (26 kilometers) north of Frankfurt am Main. In 1966, the town hosted the sixth Hessentag state festival, in 1979 the 19th.
The town consists of 7 districts:
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The old city was refounded by the Hohenstaufen dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire, conveniently located at important trading routes. The city initially rivaled Frankfurt am Main economically, with an important annual trading fair, and initial rapid expansion, though its economic fortunes soon dwindled.
City tranquility was hampered by continuous rivalry between the two entities that made up Friedberg: The city and the castle of Friedberg that were politically independent from each other and in permanent competition, often quite maliciously, resulting in bitter rivalry that culminated once in the ransacking and destruction of the castle by angry citizens. In central Italy and Lombardy similar struggles between count and commune fueled the politics of Guelf and Ghibelline parties.
Friedberg sits atop a basalt plateau overlooking the Usa and has been populated at least since Roman times. The relics of a Mesolithic settlement have been found in Bruchenbrücken, a suburb of Friedberg. Castle Hill was the location of a Roman military camp, part of the limes or border fortifications and presumably identical with the castellum in monte tauno that is quoted in Roman records during the 1st century AD, though this is still under discussion. Ruins of the camp, as well as other Roman ruins, have been found and conserved, such as the remains of Roman public baths (thermae). The Roman settlement was abandoned during the retreat of the Romans on the Rhine frontier by 260 AD. The crown and ports atop the Adolfsturm (the most prominent feature of the Friedberg castle) was restored during the 1980s.
Friedberg's old town quarter once housed a prosperous Jewish community that was totally wiped out during World War II. Many of Friedberg's Jews fled to South Africa and the United States before the Holocaust, but all remaining Jews were shipped to Buchenwald. The Judenbad (Jewish bath) contains a memorial to the fallen Jewish soldiers who fought for their fatherland during World War I. Today, only the medieval Jewish ceremonial bath, old synagogue arson memorial, and memorial plaque at one of the city's secondary schools are reminders of this part of the city's past. Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, diamond mining entrepreneur and former owner of De Beers was born and raised in Friedberg.
Friedberg was the home to the U.S. Army installation Ray Barracks. From approximately 1956 to 2007, Ray Barracks was the home of 3rd Brigade 3rd Armored Division. Elvis Presley served in 1st Bn 32nd Armor, whose motor pool and tanks were used in filming Presley's "GI Blues" (1960). The 1st Brigade 1st Armor Division was located here as well as in Gießen, Germany. The 1st Brigade (otherwise known as Ready First) was located at Ray Barracks from 1992 to 2007 when the installation was closed permanently and was returned to the city of Friedberg. The base is notable as the duty station of Elvis Presley during his military stint in Europe, who lived in nearby Bad Nauheim. Elvis Presley Platz was named for the American star and is in the main shopping center of the town. Presley's battalion, redesignated the 4th Battalion, 67th Armor,"Bandits," would be later commanded back-to-back by West Point classmates and future Army Generals Albert Bryant, Jr. and Martin Dempsey (the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), who maintained their office above the "Elvis Aaron Presley Mess Hall," originally funded by Presley. Ray Barracks is further known for being the first duty station of former US Secretary of State and retired four-star General, Colin Powell who was stationed there as a Second Lieutenant in 1958.
Friedberg is twinned with:
Friedberg was previously twinned with Bishop's Stortford in the United Kingdom but in 2011, the English town council controversially ended its 45-year-old relationship with the city, as well as Villiers-sur-Marne in France.
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