Olpe, Germany

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The city hall of Olpe, one of the highest buildings of the city
The city hall of Olpe, one of the highest buildings of the city
Coat of armsLocation
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Coat of arms of Olpe
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Olpe, Germany (Germany)

StateNorth Rhine-Westphalia
Admin. regionArnsberg
Town subdivisions22 districts
Basic statistics
Please give "Stand" in YYYY-MM-DD format , e. g. 2005-12-31
Other information
Time zoneCET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Licence plate codeOE
Postal codes57462
Area codes02761, 02722, 02764
Coordinates: Olpe is a town and a municipality in the district of Olpe, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is situated approx. 20 km east of Gummersbach and 20 km north-west of Siegen.


Geographical location

The city lies at the southern edge of the natural preserve Ebbegebirge. At the northern border of Olpe starts the largest man-made body of water within the southern half of North Rhine-Westphalia called Biggesee.

Neighbouring towns and municipalities

The greater city area

The greater city area of Olpe includes the following villages: Altenkleusheim, Dahl, Friedrichsthal, Eichhagen, Griesemert, Günsen, Hohl, Neuenkleusheim, Lütringhausen, Unterneger, Mittelneger, Oberneger, Oberveischede, Rehringhausen, Rhode, Rhonard, Rüblinghausen, Saßmicke, Sondern, Stachelau, Thieringhausen und Waukemicke (listed are only villages with a population of more than 50).

Streams and hills

The highest hills are:
  • Engelsberg (589 m)
  • Rother Stein (583 m)
  • Feld-Berg (556 m)
  • Hohe Rhonard (526 m)
The valley where within the city is located is formed by the following hills:
  • Imberg
  • Hatzenberg
  • Gallenberg
  • Lindenhardt
  • Eichhardt
  • Kimicker Berg
  • Bratzkopf
  • Kreuzberg
A number of streams and brooks run through the city and empty into the Biggesee:
  • Bigge the stream that is fed by
  • Olpe, which in turn is fed by:
  • Günse,
  • Felmicke (mostly underground),
  • Kortemicke (mostly underground),
  • Ahe


Olpe is situated within an area characterized by low hills. North of Olpe the sides of these hills get steeper and valleys narrower. To the South valleys widen and the hills end in small plateaus.

The area of the city is part of a mountain range called Rheinisches Schiefergebirge.


Olpes climate is very wet. Western winds bring clouds which formed over the Atlantic. Before they can pass over Olpe these clouds have to rise. In order to do so they have to get lighter which in turn means rain. The coldest month is January. July is the warmest month. During winter fog forms frequently out of the moist air.


Olpe is said to have taken its name from the confluence of the two streams Olpe and Bigge. („Ol-apa“ = brook in a wet swampy meadowland)

The oldest relicts found in excavations in the area of Olpe date back to about 900 A.D.: These are shards and slags from early iron smelting at the place of a former settlement, Kimickerberg, and coins found in Dahl (from after 1005).[1]

1220: Name first documented.
1311: Is given its town charter by Heinrich II. von Virneburg (Archbishop Heinrich II. Graf von Virneburg).
1500: Kreuzkapelle (Chapel of the cross) first mentioned.
1525: A militia is first documented.
1587 - 1697 witch trial recorded for the judicial district of Olpe.
1615: Olpe has its first teacher.
1634: A large part of the city is on fire.
1665: First vow of Agatha - a vow to protect the city from fire.
1673: First vow of Rochus to protect the people of Olpe from the plague.
1696: Last sentencing of a "witch" .
1711: Olpe is included in a postal service.
1795: The big fire of Olpe, 83% of the city is destroyed by flame. The medieval city isn't rebuilt in its original layout. Instead a new layout is chosen (a grid of three broad avenues connected by smaller roads running square to the avenues)
1819: Olpe becomes a district town, now District of Olpe .
1828: Refounding of the Schützenverein of Olpe (heritage of the old time militia). Its name is „St.-Sebastianus-Schützenverein“.
1842/44: Founding of the Protestant parish.
1863: Founding of the order Sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration
1864: First telegraph office in Olpe.
1875: The railway comes to Olpe. First to Attendorn/Finnentrop, 1880 a line to Olpe-Rothemühle follows.
1888: First electric light.
1898: Olpe is connected to the telephone network
1898: Citizens of Olpe found the voluntary fire brigade.
1908/09: St.-Martinus-Church burns down to the ground (arson is suspected) / It is rebuilt in neo-gothic stile.
28. März 1945: Olpe suffers from a heavy bombardment
1965: Flooding of the reservoir Biggetalsperre.
1971: Bundesautobahn 45 is opened.
1976: Bundesautobahn 4 is opened.


In consequence of the municipal restructuring as of 1st July 1969 a number of formerly independent municipalities (Kleusheim, Olpe-Land und Rhode) and parts of the municipalities of Helden (Oberveischede, Tecklinghausen, Neuenwald), Rahrbach (Fahlenscheid) und Kirchveischede (Apollmicke) were incorporated into the city of Olpe. Thus the area of the city of Olpe grew from 12,78 to 85,65 km², the number of its inhabitants rose from 14.184 to 21.705.



Patron Saint: St. Martin

Roman Catholic

With regard to church Olpe belongs to the archdiocese of Paderborn. At midlevel Olpe is administered by the deanery of Südsauerland. This deanery was formed out of the former deaneries of Dekanaten Attendorn, Elspe und Olpe and covers the same area as the district of Olpe.

At the lowest level there are two parish clusters:
  • Olpebach-Täler consists of St. Mariae Himmelfahrt Olpe with the parishes of Günsen, Lütringhausen, Rhonard, Stachelau, Thieringhausen and the parish of Kleusheim with the asscociated villages of lten- and Neuenkleusheim, Rehringhausen.
  • Olpe-Biggesee which consists of the parish of St. Martinus Olpe with its associated parishes of Dahl-Friedrichsthal and Saßmicke as well as the parishes of Heilig Geist in the western part of Olpe and the village of Rüblinghausen, Hatzenberg and the parish of St. Cyriakus in Rhode with its associated parishes of Sondern, Oberveischede and Neger.
There are also two monasteries:
  • the nunnery of The Sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration
  • the monastery of Pallottines at Palloti House


There has been a Protestant parish since 1844. It owns the oldest Olpe church which was built in 1898 from red bricks.

Other faiths

Church of God, Jehovah's Witnesses, New Apostolic Church, Islamic Congregation, Church of Greece

Historical populations

Year Population Remarks
196914.148prior to structural reform
197021.164after structural reform


City Council

Results of communal elections in 2004
Bündnis 90/Die Grünen5,6%2

Youth parliament

There has been a youth parliament since 2005. The youth parliament of Olpe is a body made up of youths which represents the interests of its peers so that the the governing bodies and the administration of the city of Olpe can take these into account when deciding on issues concerning children and youths.

The youth parliament has 25 members. They are elected by students of secondary schools for a period of two years. Each school gets one seat per 150 students and a minimum of two seats. All students of the years 5 to 10 can vote even if they live in neighbouring communities. Candidates though have to reside within the city of Olpe.

There are a minimum of four sessions of the youth parliament per year. In general these are public. Working groups for varying projects can be formed in sessions. These working groups are open to non elected children and youths.

Mayors, heads of the city administration

From 1946 to 1997 office of city manager in Olpe was called Stadtdirektor. Mayors held an honorary position and mostly acted as representatives of their city.

Mayor (since 1800)term of officeRemarks
Johannes Möllendik1802, 1804, 1806Mayor
Dr. Johann Edmund Funcke1802Deputy Mayor
Dr. Johann Edmund Funcke1803Mayor
Franz Josef Zeppenfeld1804, 1806, 1811Deputy Mayor
Jodocus Edmund Weber1811 - 1823city's sheriff
Gottfried Anton Gerlach1825
Johann Adam Halbfas1825 - 1850senior civil servant
1851 - 1861Mayor
Ernst Hermann Halbfas1861 - 1879
Louis Wilhelm Liese1880 - 1891
Ewald Röper1891 - 1896
F. Josef Caspar Hundt1896on behalf of
Franz Karl Dütz-Josun1897 - 1901
Heinrich Sommerhoff1901 - 1933
Theodor Schulte1933 - 1943
Josef Wurm1943 - 1945
Dr. Heinrich Otto SpiesApril 1945
Josef Schrage1945 - 1946full-time
Dr. Adolf Bieker1946
Franz Adam1946 - 1947
Franz Stork1948 - 1952
Ignatz Müller1952 - 1964
Alfred Enders1964 - 1979
Wilma Ohly1979 - 1997
Horst Müllersince 1997full-time

city managers (from 1946 - 1996)term of office
Josef Klein1946 - 1949
Paul Habbel1949 - 1968
Dr. Ernst Elbers1968 - 1988
Karl- Josef Leyendecker1989 - 1996

The Coat of Arms of Olpe

The coat of arms shows a scene from the life of St. Martin who as a beggar himself shared part of his coat. This scene was already found on the oldest seal of the city of Olpe from 1360. In 1911 after a long period of belonging to the principality of the elector of Cologne (1180 to 1802) the cross of the elector arch-bishops of Cologne was added in the top left corner.

Sister cities

A partnership was formed with the French city of Gif-sur-Yvette in July 2001. Since then the Städtische Gymnasium keeps up a school exchange with the Collège in Gif-sur-Yvette.

Member of Parliament

European Parliament

Peter Liese (EVP) hailing from Olsberg has been Olpe's elected representative at the European Parliament since 1994. His constituency includes all cities and municipalities of the districts of Olpe, Soest, Siegen-Wittgenstein, as well as Märkische Kreis and Hochsauerlandkreis.

Lower House of Parliament

Hartmut Schauerte (CDU) has been elected representative von Constituency 150 since 1994. Constituency 150 includes all cities and municipalities of the districts of Olpe and of the southern part of Märkische Kreise (Halver, Herscheid, Kierspe, Lüdenscheid, Meinerzhagen and Schalksmühle). Mr Schauerte lives in Kirchhundem-Flape his family.

State Parliament

Theodor Kruse (CDU) has been the representative in the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia for the district of Olpe since 1995. At the last state parliament elections in 2005 he gained 64 % of all votes.


A natural wealth of woods, ore and water favoured the foundig of ironworks and hammer mills, smithies specialized in producing pans and tanneries. Economical development was also fostered by the geographical location of Olpe in the half way between Siegerland and märkisches Sauerland. Olpe and its surroundings have been an economic center in the duchy of Westphalia from the 18th century on.
  • Production of pans (locally called „Panneklöpper“)
The production of pans in smithies had a long tradition and played an important part in the life of the city. In 1567 there had already been registered a blacksmiths guild, called "Schmiedeamt". Blacksmiths started to specialize in the production of sheet metal. They gained protected status by the Elector of Cologne who repeatedly granted privileges to their guild. In this way the Olpe blacksmiths could reach some kind of near monopoly regarding the production of sheet metal in southern Westphalia. To remember the old guild of the blacksmiths a bronze memorial was set up at the market square.
  • Hammer mills
They formed another guild in Olpe. Hammer mills were important for the production of pans as well as other types of smithies for they produced iron which could then be processed by the specialized blacksmiths. Hammer mills of the area were commonly powered by water.
  • Mining
There are traces of copper mining at Rhonard that date back from the 16th century. Amongst a number of smaller mines "Grube Rhonard" was the biggest. Up to 1805 it was in possession of the Brabeck family. Until closure in 1890 it was the oldest and last working mine in Olpe. Besides copper iron ore which was processed into pans was extraced from the mine. There were also small deposits of silver, mercury and cinnabar found.
  • Other branches of trade that once were important for Olpe and the surrounding area were charcoal burning and tanning.
The modern economy of Olpe consists mostly of medium-sized businesses and larger national operations of a number of trades. Amongst these the predominant ones are: foundries, manufacturing of seamless tubes, manufacturing of forged components, manufacturing of fittings and valves, engineering works, businesses that manufacture electronic products. Furthermore there are workshops, trade companies and service oriented companies. Tourism has an important part in regional economy.
  • Karl Jungbecker GmbH & Co, Olpe
  • Ohm & Häner GmbH & Co. KG, Olpe
  • Peterseim GmbH & Co. KG, Olpe
  • Gebr. Kemper GmbH & Co. KG, Olpe
  • Schell GmbH & Co. KG
  • Karl Imhäuser GmbH & Co. KG
  • Metallwerke Gustav Imhäuser GmbH & Co. KG



There are currently the following newspapers with local editions:
  • Siegener Zeitung
  • Westfälische Rundschau
  • Westfalenpost
Local edition means that these papers have local editorial departments or local branches in Olpe. All three papers are delivered early in the morning. Siegener Zeitung was delivered in the afternoon till 2001.

On Wednesdays and Sundays there are two ad based free papers. Sauerlandkurier offers information from all of Sauerland. Sonntags-Anzeiger and Siegerländer-Wochenanzeiger focus more on Siegerland.


Currently there is no local radio station in Olpe. Over the years there have been several attemps to set up a local station. The only station that covers Olpe is based in Siegen. WDR 2 broadcasts from its regional studio in Siegen news from the south of Westphalia every half hour,
  • Monday - Friday: from 6.31a.m. to 5.31 p.m.,
  • Saturday: from 7.31 a.m. to 1.31 p.m..
On April 28th, 2006 Olpe was given licence to set up a local station by LfM, the regulatory authority of North Rhine-Westphalia with regard of broadcasting. There has already been a body of people interested in operating a local radio for years.


Olpe has no local TV station. The area is covered by the local TV station of the WDR in Siegen. News and reports about Olpe are broadcast daily
  • Mo-Fr: 6.00 p.m. - 6.05 p.m. a short overview about local news
  • Mo-Sa: 7.30 p.m. - 8.00 p.m. Lokalzeit Südwestfalen featuring reports, news and more from out of the area.


Sons and daughters of Olpe

  • Johann Bergmann (1460-1531) theologian and publisher
  • Rötger Hundt (1711-1773) theologian
  • Mutter Maria Theresia (geb. Wilhelmine) Bonzel (1830-1905) founder of order
  • Franz Hitze (1851-1921) politician and theologian
  • Anton Deimel (1865-1954) theologian and researcher;
  • Josef Schrage (1881-1953) chief administrative officer and member of state parliament
  • Adolf von Hatzfeld (1892-1957) poet
  • Johannes Rosenthal (1903-1975) Pallottine Bishop und and first Bishop of Queenstown in South Africa
  • Paul-Werner Scheele (*6. April 1928 in Olpe) Bischof von Würzburg
  • Michael Kraus (1945-1978) artist and graphic designer
  • Monica Pick-Hieronimi (*14. Dezember 1943) sophrano and professor of music
  • Sigmar Solbach (3. Oktober 1946) actor
  • Hermann Tilke (21.December 1954) track designer
  • Jochen Feldmann (*03. August 1961) physicist
  • Michael Kügler (*3. September 1981) football player

Persons of note, who lived and worked in Olpe

  • Johann Nikolaus Düringer (um 1700-1756) sculptor
  • Wilhelm Marx (1851-1924) Lord Mayor of Düsseldorf (buried in Olpe)
  • Theodor Mietens (1804-1885) printer and one of the founders of the Protestant parish of Olpe
  • Otto Müller (1870-1944) priest and resistance fighter during reign of National Socialism
  • Lorenz Jaeger (1892-1975) cardinal
  • Hans Krüger (1902-1971) attorney in Olpe from 1957 on and Secretary of Displaced Persons in the administration of Ludwig Erhardt


Holy Agatha, right outside St. Martinus Church.

The city hall of Olpe, one of the highest buildings of the city.

The only part of the old city wall of Olpe which made it through the centuries.

The central coach station with the railroad station in on the right

The last of a number of house where tanners used to live and work.

The new court house of the district court of Olpe.

Twin Towns


This article incorporates text translated from as of 2006-10-09.

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