Review & impressions 24.02.2024: Communists, kings and conferences - The Petersberg venue

Communists, kings and conferences - a visit in the footsteps of the history of the Petersberg.

The visit by the Bonn-Rechtsrheinisch Monument and History Association to the Petersberg in Königswinter was a complete success. The tour focussed on the former police guardhouse. The small museum called "Schauplatz Petersberg" took visitors back to the days of the former Bonn Republic. Tour guides Elmar Scheuren and Heinz Hoenig provided insights into the years after the Second World War, when the Allied High Commission was based at the Hotel Petersberg and, among other things, determined the foreign policy of the still young Federal Republic, much to the displeasure of the first Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.

The hotel was first used as a guest house for the German government in 1954, when the Ethiopian regent Haile Selassi, who was quickly renamed "Hillijen" (Saint) Selassi in the vernacular of the Rhineland, paid a state visit to Germany. The access road, on which eight years later the Russian General Secretary of the CPSU, Leonid Brezhnev, was to cause a crash with the Mercedes he had just been presented with as a state gift, was built especially for Queen Elizabeth II, who arrived in 1965.

In 1979, the Federal Republic of Germany acquired the grand hotel from the Mülhens family, only to demolish and rebuild it in the mid-1980s amid fierce protests, not only from conservationists. It underwent a general refurbishment between 2017 and 2019 and has since been known as the "Steigenberger Grandhotel & Spa Petersberg".

However, the hill, which is not even 340 metres high, was not only of secular but also ecclesiastical importance in the region in the Middle Ages, as the predecessor church of Heisterbach Abbey was located here, as remains of the foundations show. The successor building, the baroque St Peter's Chapel, built in 1763 by Heisterbach Abbot Augustin Mengelberg, attracted international attention in 1995 when racing driver Michael Schumacher celebrated his wedding there. After that, the privilege for the citizens of Königswinter to get married up there was cancelled.

The sociable end to the afternoon took place in Sarah's Café at the foot of the mountain in Königswinter. Conclusion: A successful excursion that made most of the guests want to find out more about the history of the Petersberg.

Here are some impressions: