The city, the “civitas”, is characteristic of civilized peoples: it is a center of economic and intellectual activity; that is, it corresponds to a high economy. It can only be established at an important road junction, in the exchange economy. Now, the ancient Germans exercised purely natural economy, living on the products of the soil and the breeding of livestock and they had only villages and isolated courts. Cities are therefore the most recent form of settlement. To tell the truth, there are cities in the southern and western part of Germany whose origins date back to Roman times, as we have seen. Until the sec. XI in Germany there were only castles, convents, market places and villages. Some places well located on important natural routes became cities,, or even royal curtes, economic units that were used to produce what was necessary for the maintenance of the emperor and his entourage. At the time of Charlemagne and under the Ottos, the ancient designations of civitas, urbs, oppidum, castrum, castellum appear with a different and not always clear meaning. So they are called civitas, urbs (perhaps) only for the political importance that they had, small places or simple castles, but the majority of the cities founded by the Romans are so called. Before the century XI there were already large human agglomerations, but these did not differ in appearance and life from the villages. Around this time, the urban life that develops in the 12th and 13th centuries appears, since, in addition to agriculture, industries and businesses have sprung up. And the external characteristics of the cities were the market and the walls. Commercial cities arose mainly in southern Germany, at the outlets of Alpine roads, under the influence of Italian civilization, and also on the coasts of the North Sea and the Baltic. Other cities were instead “rural”, as they lived from the surrounding countryside and for the countryside itself. Still there are, mostly in places a little away from the great arteries of modern traffic. During the religious wars that depressed trade and industry, the cities decayed. Only in the century. XVIII, through the work of the princes and in part of foreign refugees in Germany due to religious struggles, there was an agricultural and commercial improvement. A real and great urban development had Germany when, in the century. XIX, was able to take immense advantages from its large deposits of iron and coal. Some villages and small towns became large centers of trade and industry.
Centers that strongly developed to become large modern cities are those located on the great rivers of northern Germany (such as Bremen, Hamburg, Szczecin, Kiel, Lübeck, Rostock, Gdansk, Königsberg) not really at the mouths, but where the navigation with transport maritime must be replaced with the river.
Immediately to the south, this coastal area is followed by a lowland area without a marked articulation of the land and sparsely populated. In this area there is only Berlin, to which Poznań (Posen) on Polish territory corresponds, due to the analogous situation in the river lowlands.
Further to the South., on the northern edge of the Middle Mountains, there are many centers that constitute a third geographical type of city, constantly located at the mouth of the roads that enter the lowlands from the mountains and especially where the latter forms inlets penetrating towards the South.. (Hanover, Brunswick, Magdeburg, Cologne, Münster, Halle, Leipzig, Dresden, Breslau).
In the mountains of middle and southwestern Germany, there is a lack of favorable conditions for the development of truly large cities. Regarding the population density, there is no great centralization, because the land is strongly divided into small individualities: although each of these has its own urban center, this has not been able to grow beyond a certain limit. Thus it can be said that the Middle Mountains of Germany are mainly characterized by the existence of small towns. Larger urban centers developed either where important roads converge (such as Kassel, Mainz, and Frankfurt am Main) or in the center of the basins (such as Erfurt, Nuremberg and Stuttgart), or in the Rhine plain (Mannheim, Karlsruhe).
Another geographical type of city is given by those of the Subalpine Shelf, where the streets coming from the Alps meet with those that are arranged in directions approximately parallel to their margin (Monaco, Augusta.)
Not only the geographical situation, but also the planimetric characteristics of the Germanic cities are worthy of consideration. Whether they have arisen as medieval market places in the vicinity of pre-existing locations or even from these or are of more recent origin, the cities of southern and western Germany, in general there is no trace of a pre-established design as it appears from the narrow streets. and angular, with no definite direction. Instead the plan of those cities that were founded from scratch in selected locations, it reveals its non-spontaneous origin. Those east of the Elbe particularly show such resemblances to each other that some scholars spoke of an urban plan of eastern Germany. The four main roads were traced in the direction of the cardinal points; and at the crossroads is the market; the streets lead to the gates that open into the round circuit of the walls.
According to Getzipcodes, the municipalities with over 50,000 residents are the following: Altona (227,433); Hamburg (1,079,126); Aachen (155,816); Augusta (165,522); Bamberg (50,152); Berlin (4,024,286); Beuthen of Silesia (86,881); Bielefeld (114.180); Bochum (313,554); Bonn (90,249); Bottrop (82,159); Brandenburg (60,953); Bremen (294,966); Wroclaw (599.770); Brunswick (146,725); Chemnitz (335,982); Koblenz (58,322); Cologne (700,222); Darmstadt (89,465); Dessau (75,073); Dortmund (525,837); Dresden (625,016); Düsseldorf (464,543); Duisburg-Hamborn (421.217); Elbing (68,206); Erfurt (135,579); Essen (629,564); Flensburg (63,146); Frankfurt am Main (540.115); Frankfurt on the Oder (71.139); Freiburg (90,475); Fürth (74.195); Gelsenkirchen (330.186); Gera (81,402); Gladbach-Rheydt (193,529); Gladbeck (60,043); Gleiwitz (95,572); Görlitz (91,702); Hagem (143,701); Halle on the Saal e (194,636); Hamm (50,040); Hanover (425,274); Harburg-Wilhelmsburg (105,765); Hindenburg of Upper Silesia (122,671); Karlsruhe (148,063); Kassel (172,071); Kastrop-Rauxel (53,360); Kiel (213,881); Kottbus (50,600); Krefeld-Uerdingen (159,064); Leipzig 1684.728); Liegnitz (73.123); Lübeck (120,825); Ludwigshafen (101,869); Magdeburg (297-151); Mainz (130,915); Mannheim (260,871); Munich (685,036); Mülheim (128,830); Münster of Westphalia (106,418); Nuremberg (393.202); Oberhausen (186.322); Offenbach (79,362); Oldenburg (52,723); Osnabrück (89,079); Pforzheim (78,937); Plauen (111,436); Potsdam (67,390); Regensburg (76,948); Recklinghausen (84,609); Remscheid (99,755); Rostock, with Warnemünde (77,714); Solingen (135,706); Szczecin (254.466); Stuttgart (343,048); Tilsit (50,834); Trier (68,469); Ulm on the Danube (59.357); Wanne-Eickel (91,024); Wattenscheidt (62,870); Wiesbaden Würzburg (95.113); Wuppertal (405,515); Zwickau (80,538).