History of Freising

The city of Freising is the oldest city in southern Bavaria, first mentioned as the ducal palace Frigisinga around 555. The history of Freising is the history of the two hills in the city: the cathedral hill (so called ‘Domberg’) and the Weihenstephan hill (‘Weihenstephaner Berg’).

On the cathedral hill the first Church of St. Mary´s was built in 715 next to the ducal palace. As education was mostly related to the church, a school and a library were also created on the cathedral hill. Writings of monks date back to the 6th century and are one of the largest collections of early medieval manuscripts in Bavaria. Today they can be seen in the Bavarian State Library in Munich including the Gospel of St. Corbinian, which still has a formative influence to the present day.

St. Corbinian, who became later on the first bishop of Freising and founder of the diocese Freising, founded a monestary around 720 AD on the Weihenstephan hill. According to the legend, St. Corbinian tamed a bear to carry his baggage on his way to Rome. The Corbinian’s bear is still the symbol of Freising minting the municipal coat of arms.

Among the bishops and scholars from Freising, one of the most famous is Otto, brother of King Conrad III of Germany. Although the records are uncertain, we know that he had a powerful family, studied philosophy, and participated in the Second Crusade. However, Otto is most remembered for two important historical writings: the Chronicle or History of the Two Cities (“Chronica sive Historia de duabus civitatibus”) and the Deeds of Emperor Frederick (“Gesta Friderici imperatoris”).

With the Concordat of 24 October 1817 between the Kingdom of Bavaria and the Holy See four Bavarian dioceses were unified and reconstituted as the now known Archdiocese of Munich and Freising with the bishop´s seat at the Cathedral of Our Dear Lady (‘Frauenkirche’) in Munich.

Pope Benedict XVI studied in Freising and was Archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977 to 1982. His papal coat of arms still decorates the Corbinian´s bear.

Within the monastery of Weihenstephan the first record of brewing dated from 786 AD. Weihenstephan remained the site of brewery for a long period, the so called ‘nutrient hill’, while the city of Freising started to develop below the hills. Throughout the years, the monastery was attacked by Hungarians, severe plagues and a sequence of wars, but it was always rebuilt and the tradition of brewing was never lost.

In 1803, the School of Agriculture was founded on Weihenstephan hill. Within the Napoleonic Wars, the school was closed and moved to Schleissheim. In 1852 the Central Agricultural School moved back to Weihenstephan, where it became the University of Agriculture and Brewery, and later in 1930 was incorporated to the Technical University of Munich (TUM) as the School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan.