Detmold (German pronunciation: [ˈdɛtmɔlt]) is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, with a population of 74,254. It was the capital of the small Principality of Lippe from 1468 until 1918 and then of the Free State of Lippe until 1947. Today it is the administrative center of the district of Lippe and of the Regierungsbezirk Detmold. The Church of Lippe has its central administration located in Detmold. The Reformed Redeemer Church is the preaching venue of the state superintendent of the Lippe church.

The princely castle.
Coat of arms
Location of Detmold within Lippe district
Coordinates: 51°56′16″N 08°53′00″E
StateNorth Rhine-Westphalia
Admin. regionDetmold
  MayorRainer Heller (SPD)
  Total129.39 km2 (49.96 sq mi)
134 m (440 ft)
  Density570/km2 (1,500/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
  Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
Postal codes
Dialling codes05231, 05232
Vehicle registrationLIP


Iron Age

About 5 kilometres (3 mi) to the southwest of Detmold is the Grotenburg [de] hill with a prehistoric circular rampart and the Hermann monument (German: Hermannsdenkmal).[2] The monument commemorates the so-called Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, a battle in 9 AD which may or may not have been fought close to the present location of Detmold. In this encounter, Germanic tribes led by Hermann (Latin: Arminius) defeated Roman legions under the command of Publius Quinctilius Varus.[3]

Middle Ages

Detmold was first mentioned as Theotmalli in 783, the year of a battle between the Saxons and Charlemagne's forces nearby.[2][3] This was an event in the Saxon Wars. In 1005 a Tietmelli or Theotmalli region (Gau) is referred to in documents.

In 1263, Bernard III of Lippe fortified the settlement at the crossing of the trade route from Paderborn to Lemgo over the Werre River with stone walls and granted it a municipal charter. Its population was reported in 1305 as 305. Market rights granted in 1265 led to rapid economic development. Its defenses were greatly strengthened after severe damage had been inflicted on the town during the conflict with Soest in 1447. A major fire in 1547 destroyed more than 70 houses.

Engraving of a view of the town of Detmold by Matthäus Merian, 1647

In 1550, Detmold became the permanent residence of Count Simon III of Lippe. The counts were elevated to princes in 1789, and Detmold remained the capital of the small Principality of Lippe until the end of the World War I in 1918, when all princely states in Germany were abolished. Today, Stephan, Prince of Lippe is the owner of Detmold Castle.

Modern era

Street lighting was introduced in 1809, with oil-fired lanterns. By 1835, the town had become the most populous in Lippe, with over 4,000 residents. It grew to 12,000 in 1900 and over 30,000 in 1950.

From 1919 to 1947, Detmold was the capital of the Free State of Lippe. When Lippe was incorporated into the new German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the town became the seat of the Lippe district, and since 1972 it has been the seat of the district administration of Lippe. With the administrative reform of 1970, 25 nearby villages were incorporated into the city.

The former Hobart Barracks is nearby.

Main sights

Hiddeser Bent, moor near Donoper Teich
Campus of the OWL University of Applied Sciences and Arts (2019)
Market and town hall


The town supports the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie for regular symphony concerts.


  • Gymnasium Leopoldinum [de], founded 1602
  • Stadtgymnasium Detmold, founded 1830
  • Christian-Dietrich-Grabbe-Gymnasium, founded 1925

Twin towns – sister cities

Detmold is twinned with:[4]

Notable people

Leopold Zunz
Ferdinand Freiligrath

Notable people born in Detmold include:

Albert Lortzing

Long-time residents of Detmold include:


Amongst the honorary citizens of Detmold, besides politicians are scientists and artists who have served in Detmold. The best-known are the builder of the Hermannsdenkmal, Ernst von Bandel (1871), Reich Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck (1895), and Reich President, Paul von Hindenburg (1917).


  1. "Bevölkerung der Gemeinden Nordrhein-Westfalens am 31. Dezember 2019" (in German). Landesbetrieb Information und Technik NRW. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  2. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Detmold" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  3. Ripley, George; Dana, Charles A., eds. (1879). "Detmold" . The American Cyclopædia.
  4. "Detmold – mitten in Europa". (in German). Detmold. Retrieved 2021-02-11.
  5. The Rough Guide to Germany. Penguin. July 5, 2012. ISBN 9781409359265.
  6. Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Freiligrath, Ferdinand" . New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
  7. Friedrich Engels. Routledge. November 5, 2013. p. 253. ISBN 9781136629181.
  8. Judy Dempsey (October 17, 2005), A promotion to cabinet for Schröder's top aide The New York Times.