Circle-free city

a circle-free city (called in Baden-Wuerttemberg urban area) is a local regional administrative body, which settles its tasks within own competence after the local legislation of Germany. Usually it acts thereby around large cities, thus cities with moreas 100,000 inhabitants or larger medium-sized towns.

However there are large cities , which are not circle-free , in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia also e.g. Hildesheim, Moers, Neuss, Paderborn, Recklinghausen, Reutlingen or Witten and in contrast to itin Bavaria and Rheinland-Pfalz urban areas and/or. circle-free cities, which have less than 50,000 inhabitants.

The smallest circle-free city in Germany is two-bridges in Rhineland-Palatinate with approximately 38,000 inhabitants (2004), the largest urban area the Bavarian state capital Munich with 1,3Millions inhabitants.Berlin and Hamburg are larger, but not circle-free cities, but city states. The city state Bremen consists even of 2 urban areas, i.e. the city Bremen and that approx. 60 km sea-side town Bremerhaven lain north.

Table of contents

historical development


with the 1816 took place arrangement of Prussia into districts became the province capitals Aachen, Breslau, Danzig, Düsseldorf, Erfurt, resound, king mountain, Magdeburg, Minden, Münster, Posen, Potsdam and Stettinas urban areas of direct control of the province government subordinates. Its circle liberty lost Minden already already 1817 again, just as 1820 also Duesseldorf and Erfurt, which were integrated again into the respective districts.

After the Annexion of the Kingdom of Hanover, the cure principality Hessen Kassel, the duchy Nassau and the free city Frankfurt in the year 1866 were transferred the former capitals of these states , Hanover , Kassel , Wiesbaden and Frankfurt/Main, as urban areas.

By the strong growth of the cities due to the industrializationbecame ever louder the demand on the address of the Prussian government after a reorganisation of the districts and the formation of urban areas. Goods Barmen and Elberfeld, which became 1861 urban areas, still characterized as exceptional case, then the government had 1872agree officially the reorganisation of urban areas.Duesseldorf, Erfurt, Cologne and Krefeld were the first cities, which profited from this new regulation. 1873 became also Duisburg, Elbing, Görlitz, Liegnitz and Stralsund new urban areas.

Starting from 1875 was generally a number of inhabitants of more than 30,000 a condition for the formation of urban areas. In some cases, like e.g.Hamborn became 1911 from one rapidly on 100.000 inhabitants village grown directly an urban area. This became 18 years later in the year 1929with Duisburg to the urban area Duisburg Hamborn combines.


original only the three district capitals Dresden, Leipzig and Chemnitz were excluded as direct cities from the organization into office main crews. As the city Plauen however around 1904 to a large cityalso over 100.000 inhabitants, had the Saxonian government was grown up to react and granted to 1907 also the fourth largest Saxonian city Plauen and the fifth-largest Saxonian city Zwickau the privilege of the circle liberty.

The social-democratic government officiating since 1919 stood for the desire thatCities after circle liberty clearly openly opposite and 1922 granted first to the cities Bautzen, free mountain, Meissen and Zittau, in the year 1924 then also many further cities (among other things Döbeln, free valley, Mittweida, Pirna and Riesa)the privilege of the circle liberty. The city Radebeul was raised 1935 as last Saxonian city to the urban area, after it had achieved the demanded number of inhabitants of 30.000 inhabitants by the union with the city Kötzschenbroda.

The cities Görlitz (urban area since 1873) and Hoyerswerda (urban area since 1996) belonged until 1945 to the Prussian province Niederschlesien.

remaining one German States of

the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg granted Varel (1858 ) to the cities Jever ( 1855) except the state capital Oldenburg (Oldb . ) also, Delmenhorst (1903) and preparation rings (1911), which 1937 with Wilhelmshaven one combined, the privilege of the circle liberty.

The Free States Mecklenburg Schwerin and Thuringia led the system with city, usual in Prussia , during their national reorganisation in the years 1920 to 1922and districts. After the combination of the two Mecklenburgian Free States Mecklenburg Schwerin and Mecklenburg Strelitz in the year 1934 the two Strelitzer cities new Brandenburg and Neustrelitz were taken over as urban areas, the remaining Strelitzer of cities however the district Stargard was integrated.

Bathe, Braunschweig, Hessen darmstadt and Württemberg did not know urban areas up to the administrative reform 1938 with exception of the württembergischen state capital Stuttgart.

the German Gemeindeordnung of 1935

the German Gemeindeordnung of 1935 introduced the term “urban area” again. In the “first regulation toExecution of the German Gemeindeordnung " of 23. March 1935 all urban areas were enumerated, arranged according to Federal States. 1942 gave it for this an addition. It must be considered that it itself with these urban areas with exception in the state Prussia not around urban areasin the today's sense acted. They were rather to compare with “cities circle-belonging with special status”, thus large district towns.

See for this: List of the cities circle-belonging with special status in Germany.

Federal Republic of Germany

in the Federal Republic of Germany becameat the beginning of only two circle-free cities establishes again:Wolf castle at the 1. October 1951 and Leverkusen at the 1. April 1955. On the other hand in the course of the regional reorganizations of the 1970er years many circle-free cities were integrated either into the neighbouring districts, e.g. Cuxhaven, Fulda, Gladbeck, Hildesheim, new Ulm, victories and jokes or however with a neighbour city combine, e.g. Rheydt, tub Eickel and cotton wool-separate.

German one Democratic Republic

during in the first years of the Soviet crew still urban areaswere furnished (e.g.Schönebeck (Elbe) in the year 1946), eliminated the 1950 to 1952 accomplished administrative reform the majority of the urban areas grown historically.

However in the GDR government also new urban areas were formed. So e.g. was. Johanngeorgenstadt from 1951 to 1957 urban area;because by the uranium dismantling the number of the inhabitants had grown on over 40.000. After 1957 it dropped again. Also the newly established Stalinstadt (today ironworks city) was raised 1953 from the GDR government to the urban area. Schwedt (or) (1961) and Suhl (1967) belonged likewise to the cities, which became because of their political and economic meaning urban areas. The 1967 created and large housing estate resounding new city designated because of missing infrastructure as “dormitory suburb 1971 were often explained to 1990 as the circle-free city ,but resounds again to the city (Saale) integrates.


in Austria is called a circle-free city Statutarstadt. Only between 1938 and 1945 this Statutarstädte was called as in the rest of German Reich urban areas. These order in contrastto circle-free cities over an own municipal constitution, the statute. A Statutarstadt takes over at the same time the tasks the district captain shank.


also Poland belongs to the countries, with respect to which between districts and urban areas one differentiates. Some cities became alreadyin the German empire to the urban area (bromine mountain 1875, Graudenz and Thorn 1900) and/or. in the KuK realm to the Statutarstadt raised (e.g. Bielitz). Other cities were only explained after 1918 from the again-created Polish republic to urban areas, e.g. Gniezno (1925), Inowrocław (1925) and Kalisz (1929).

united kingdom

in the united kingdom County Boroughs were introduced 1889, abolished 1974 however again. The condition for the grant of the status was a certain minimum number of inhabitants, from first 50,000 over 75.000(1926) to last 100,000 one increased. 1992 was introduced again Unitary so mentioned Authority, which correspond to the old “County to a large extent boroughs”.


are the USA in the USA likewise the concept of a circle-free city under thatNames independent town center (in English). Since the year 1871 all cities are circle-free by law in Virginia, in addition, in other Federal States there is “independent cities”, e.g. Baltimore in Maryland or Saint Louis in Missouri.

See also


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