Ahrweiler is a district in the north of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is bounded by (from the north and clockwise) the districts Euskirchen, Rhein-Sieg and the city Bonn in the state North Rhine-Westphalia, and the districts of Neuwied, Mayen-Koblenz and Vulkaneifel.
The region was conquered by the Romans under Julius Caesar about 50 BC. Some hundred years later the Roman fort of Rigomagus was founded, later to become the city of Remagen. The Vinxtbach, a narrow brook and an affluent of the Rhine, was defined as the borderline between the Roman provinces of Germania superior and Germania inferior. There was originally a Roman villa located here, and the German suffix, "weiler", is a linguistic corruption of the Latin term "villa". Portions of an Roman aqueduct have also been found nearby.
Many towns were first mentioned in the 9th century, among them Ahrweiler and Sinzig. The name of Ahrweiler was first noted in the Land Register of the Abbey of Prüm, which during the ninth century, owned almost all of the property in the town.
In 1180 the Holy Roman Emperor Barbarossa chose Sinzig as a place to meet the envoys of France and Flanders. Another significant place was the Abbey of Maria Laach on the Laacher See, a lake in the southeast of the district.
From 1100 to 1246 the district was ruled by the Grafen (Counts) von Are (Ahr), and then by their relatives, the Grafen von Hochstaden. These families were mainly responsible for the development of Ahrweiler, which then was, together with Bonn, Andernach and Nürburg, one of the capitals of the Archbishopric of Cologne. Defensive walls, ramparts and towers were built around the town, and these constructions remain mostly unimpaired. In the early years of the Holy Roman Empire there was an earldom of Ahr, but it was annexed by the Bishop of Cologne in 1246. Afterwards Remagen became the most important town of the region. The parish church, St. Laurentius (St. Laurence) , was originally built in 1269, and is one of the most beautiful Gothic churches in the Rhineland.
Since the Middle Ages, the town has been roughly divided by the four City Gates. In each division there was a commons, which originally belonged to the town's citizens. These were later put in the care of the protective Social Communities, who protected the interests of the ihabitants. These Social Communities (Hutengemeinschaften) continue to exist. They are: Hutengemeinschaft Adenbachhut Ahrweiler; Hutengemeinschaft "St. Barbara" Ahrhut Ahrweiler; Hutengemeinschaft "St. Katharina" Niederhut Ahrweiler; Hutengemeinschaft "St. Ursula" Oberhut Ahrweiler e. V.
During a disaterous period in the Thirty Years War in the 17th century, the town was besieged, plundered and set on fire by the French. But the blackest day in Ahrweiler's history was on May 1, 1689, when the town was razed to the ground, and only ten houses were left standing among the ruins.
The Ahrweiler City Gate and many other historical buildings were partially destroyed at the end of World War II during the contested advances of the Allies. The battle of the Rhine bridge of Remagen, otherwise known as the Ludendorff Bridge, in 1945, is a well-known event in local history, also due to the U.S. movie The Bridge at Remagen (1969).
In Jewish texts, the town was called Aroil'ra (ארוילרא). From the 13th century and on, there was a considerable Jewish community in Ahrweiler. In the 14th century, the Jews of the town dealt with salt and wine. During that period, the Jewish community of the town suffered from the Black Death Jewish persecutions. In 1900, 65 Jews lived in the town (1% of the total population), and 31 in 1933.