MINDEN, the chief town of a district of the same name in Prussia, province of Westphalia, is situated about 22 miles to the west-south-west of Hanover, on the left bank of the Weser, which is spanned there by two bridges. The older parts of the town retain an old-fashioned appearance, with narrow and crooked streets ; the modern suburbs occupy the site of the former fortifications. The most interesting building is the Roman Catholic cathedral, the tower of which, dating from the 11th century, illustrates the first step in the growth of the Gothic spire in Germany. The nave was erected at the end of the 13th century, and the choir in 1377-79. Among the other chief edifices are the old church of St Martin ; the town-house, with a Gothic facade ; the extensive court-house ; and the Government offices, constructed, like many of the other buildings, of a peculiar veined brown sandstone found in the district. Minden contains a gymnasium and several hospitals, besides other charitable institutions. Its industries include linen and cotton weaving, dyeing, calico printing, and the manufacture of tobacco, leather, lamps, chicory, and chemicals. There is also some activity in the building of small craft. In 1881 107 vessels of an aggregate burden of 12,569 tons entered and cleared the river-harbour of Minden. The population in 1880 was 17,869.
Minden (Minden, Mindo), apparently a trading place of some importance in the time of Charlemagne, was made the seat of a bishop by that monarch, and subsequently became a flourishing member of the Hanseatic League. In the 13th century it was surrounded with a wall. Punished by military occupation and a fine for its reception of the Reformation in 1547, Minden underwent similar trials in the Thirty Years' War and the wars of the French occupation. In 1648 the bishopric was converted into a secular principality under the elector of Brandenburg. From 1807 to 1814 Minden was included in the kingdom of Westphalia, and in the latter year it passed to Prussia. In 1816 the fortifications, which had been razed by Frederick the Great after the Seven Years' War, were restored and strengthened, and as a fortress of the second rank it remained the chief military place of Westphalia down to 1872, when the works were finally demolished. At Todtenhausen, 3 miles to the north of Minden, the allied English and German troops under the duke of Brunswick gained a decisive victory over the French in 1759. About 3 miles to the south of Minden is the so-called "Porta Westfalica," a narrow and picturesque defile by which the Weser quits the mountains and reaches the plain.
Minden is not to be confounded with the Hanoverian Mtinden, also sometimes written Minden (population 6355), at the confluence (tlfundung) of the Werra and Fulda.