Barmen, a town of Germany, in the Prussian Rhine province and the governmental district of Düsseldorf. Pop. (1816) 19,030; (1890) 116,144; (1905) 156,148. It is served by the main railway from Berlin to Aix-la-Chapelle, and lies immediately east of Elberfeld, with which it virtually forms one town. It stretches for some 4 m. along the narrow valley of the river Wupper, which, within the municipal boundaries, is crossed by twenty bridges. High wooded hills surround it. It is divided into three main districts, Upper, Middle and Lower Barmen, and is connected, throughout its length, with Elberfeld, by railway, tramway, and a suspended trolley line, hanging over the bed of the Wupper. It contains nine Evangelical and two Roman Catholic churches, a stately modern town hall, a Hall of Fame (Ruhmeshalle), with statues of the emperors William I. and Frederick III., a theatre, a picture-gallery, an ethnographical museum, and an exchange. There are many public monuments, one to Bismarck another to the poet Emil Rittershaus (1834-1897), a native of the town, and one commemorative of the Franco-German War of 1870-71. There are several high-grade public schools, academies of technical science, engineering and textile industry, and a missionary theological seminary.
Barmen is one of the most important manufacturing centres of Germany. The rapid development of its commercial activity only dates from the beginning of the 19th century. It is the chief seat of ribbon weaving in Germany, and manufactures thread, lace, braids, cotton and cloth goods, carpets, silks, machinery, steel wares, plated goods and buttons, the last industry employing about 15,000 hands. There are numerous bleaching-fields, print-fields and dyeworks famous for their Turkey-red, soap works, chemical works and potteries. There are also extensive breweries. Its export trade, particularly to the United States, is very considerable. The hills lying S. of the town are laid out in public grounds. Here are a health resort, a tower commanding an extensive view, and numerous villas. Barmen, although mentioned in chronicles in the 11th century, did not attain civic rights until 1808, when it was formed into a municipality by the grand-duke of Berg.
See A. Shadwell, Industrial Efficiency (1906), for a good description of the industrial aspect.