Kempen, Germany

Kempen (German: [ˈkɛ̩] (About this soundlisten)) is a town in the district of Viersen, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is situated approximately 30 kilometres (19 mi) northwest of Düsseldorf, and 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of Venlo.

Old School Street
Old School Street
Coat of arms of Kempen
Coat of arms
Location of Kempen within Viersen district
Kempen in VIE.svg
Kempen is located in Germany
Kempen is located in North Rhine-Westphalia
Coordinates: 51°21′57″N 6°25′10″E / 51.36583°N 6.41944°E / 51.36583; 6.41944Coordinates: 51°21′57″N 6°25′10″E / 51.36583°N 6.41944°E / 51.36583; 6.41944
StateNorth Rhine-Westphalia
Admin. regionDüsseldorf
 • MayorVolker Rübo (CDU)
 • Total68.79 km2 (26.56 sq mi)
Highest elevation
68 m (223 ft)
Lowest elevation
30 m (100 ft)
 • Total34,514
 • Density500/km2 (1,300/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
Postal codes
Dialling codes0 21 52 / 02845
Vehicle registrationVIE / KK
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Notable personsEdit

Kempen is the birthplace of Thomas à Kempis.

Thomas was born in either 1379 or 1380 in Kempen. His birthplace was on the Kirchplatz (church square) about where the house "St. Marien 11" stands today. Thomas was the second son of the craftsman Johann Hemerken and his wife Gertrud Kuyt, who was most probably a teacher.

In Kempen, Thomas attended the Latin School until the age of 12. Afterwards, he left Kempen to attend the town school in Deventer, which had a very good reputation and therefore would have been well known in the Lower Rhine region. The school served as a preparatory institution for university study and taught mainly grammar, logic, ethics and philosophy.

In 1836, the Thomas Society was founded in Kempen to foster the memory of the greatest son of the city. In the twentieth century, there have been two other foundations: in 1979, the married couple Heinrich and Christine Kiefer founded the Thomas Foundation and in 1987, the Provost's parish, the town of Kempen and the Thomas Society jointly founded the Thomas Archive, which can be found in the Cultural Forum of the Franciscan Monastery.


  • 1186: First mention in official documentation of Kempen as a place – the sovereign until 1794 is the Archbishop (electoral prince) of Cologne
  • around 1290: Kempen is rebuilt as a fortified town
  • 11 March 1294: First confirmation of Kempen as a town in official documentation
  • 15th century: town blooms economically and culturally (population of approx. 4,200)
  • 1542–1543: Kempen is the centre of the Reformation for the Lower Rhine
  • 1579: The plague costs the town almost half of its inhabitants
  • 1642: Kempen is conquered and destroyed by the allied French, Hessian and Weimar troops during the "Hessen War" (Thirty Years' War)
  • 1794–1814: Kempen is under French rule. In the département of Roer established in 1797, Kempen becomes a canton seat in 1798 and a French town in 1801.
  • 1815: After the Congress of Vienna, Kempen becomes Prussian and is the county seat
  • 1929: Due to local reforms, Kempen becomes the administrative seat of the county of Kempen-Krefeld
  • 1966 onward: Restoration of the old town
  • 1970: Communal restructuring: The communities of Hüls, St. Hubert, Tönisberg and Schmalbroich join Kempen along with the localities of St. Peter and Unterweiden to form a single town
  • 1975: In further local reforms, Hüls is assigned to the city of Krefeld. The county of Viersen is formed and Kempen becomes part of "Kreis Viersen"
  • 1984: The county seat is transferred from Kempen to Viersen.
  • 1987: A cultural forum is opened in the Franciscan monastery after comprehensive restoration and renovation work.
  • 11 March 1994: Date of the 700-year jubilee of the confirmation of Kempen as a town

Twin townsEdit



  1. ^ "Bevölkerung der Gemeinden Nordrhein-Westfalens am 31. Dezember 2019" (in German). Landesbetrieb Information und Technik NRW. Retrieved 17 June 2020.

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne. Missing or empty |title= (help)