They have become a common thing to see at almost every corner in Kiel: pharmacies. Among those, some have been in business for centuries. Two of the oldest are the Alte Rats-Apotheke in the Holstenstrasse and the Hof Apotheke at the Alter Markt.
The beginnings of pharmacies in Kiel can be traced back to the early 17th century. Before that, medical supplies were provided by monasteries with herb gardens that existed in Kiel or sold by traveling merchants, who of course would only stay in the city for a short time during market days.
It was 1607 when the council of Kiel, who by then still had the power to give exclusive rights concerning trades, allowed the pharmacist Ulrich Ziegler to run the first permanent pharmacy, Alte Rats-Apotheke. It was located in the “Alter Tanzsaal” at first, which was at the corner of the Dänische Straße and the market. But soon it moved to the upper Holstenstrasse number 5, where it remained until it was destroyed by bombs in May of 1944.
After the war, the pharmacy moved to its current location in the Holstenstraße 42-44. The current owner is Frau Ipsen-Steinweg, her father took over the business in 1936. Today, the pharmacy acts as a modern service center that not only provides medical supplies, but also has a laboratory to provide sterile shots and a “Care-Center” which offers assistance and care especially for people suffering from fibrosis.
During the founding of the first pharmacy, Kiel consisted of merely 3000 people, but the population grew during the second half of the 16th century when the city increased its size along the old “Vorstadt”, which today is the lower Holstenstraße, the “Gängeviertel”, and the Kuhberg. But the 30-year war brought hard times, which affected Kiel by troop billeting and pillaging.
In these times, the populace demanded a second pharmacy for the city, but the councilmen denied this wish, as the old exclusivity privileges of the Rats-Apotheke were still in effect, upheld by an old document. Eventually, Duke Friedrich III of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf (1597-1659) went against the council in 1642 and allowed a second pharmacy to be established, which was first called “Neue Apotheke”. The owner back then was allocated a building at the corner of the Haßstrasse, where the later renamed “Hof Apotheke” still is.
The history of pharmacies in Kiel remained rather uneventful until the early years of the 19th century, with only the founding of the Christian-Albrechts-Universität in 1665 offering a boost thanks to the medical facility in the University.
All in all, Kiel remained a small city with a few thousand people that developed rather slowly under Danish control. The Hof Apotheke has been owned by the Rüdel family since 1827, and the current owner, Jan Hendrik Rüdel is running the business in its sixth generation. The old building was renovated during the economic boom in Kiel at the end of the 19th century. Unfortunately, the building shared the same fate as the Rats-Apotheke during the war and was destroyed during the extensive American bombing on May 22th 1944.
Nowadays the Hof Apotheke at the Alter Markt has become an integral part of the cityscape. The building itself has been modernized several times in the past few years and despite its history of over 410 years, it presents itself as a modern service point with about 30 employees.
Process of growth
From 1864 on, Kiel experienced booming development due to the Prussian Imperial Navy after the end of the Danish reign and the city was in need of more pharmacies because of the rapid growth. The population had grown to 18,770 by 1864 and there were still only two pharmacies. This changed just one year later with the opening of the “Schwan-Apotheke” (which does not exist anymore) in the Holstenstraße 91. In 1883 the “Kronen-Apotheke”, opened at the corner of Brunswiker Straße and Bergstraße. Kiel had over 100,000 citizens by 1900, and that doubled ten years later, thus dozens of new pharmacies opened for business. By now, the city has over 70 pharmacies, with some additional branches in the malls of Sophienhof and Citti-Park.
Both Alte Rats-Apotheke and the Hof Apotheke have their own websites at www.alte-rats-apotheke.de and www.apotheke-kiel.de, with both of them also having a more detailed history of their business available there.
If you want additional information about the history of pharmacies in Kiel, there is a specialized section at www.med-hist.uni-kiel.de about medical and pharmaceutical history collection of the University at the Brunswiker Straße 2. Among other things you can find old pharmacy equipment there.