Madison's sister city relationship with Freiburg began in 1964, when the University of Wisconsin first sent students to Freiburg to enjoy the hospitality of Freiburgers and take advantage of academic programs at the University of Freiburg, established in 1460.
In 1984 leaders in both cities began exploring ways to expand the relationship. Madison's City Council passed a resolution establishing the Madison-Freiburg Sister City Committee in December 1985. Lord Mayer Rolf Boehme of Freiburg visited Madison the following year, and Mayor Joe Sensenbrenner returned the visit in 1987 to draw up a formal agreement. Delegations from both cities exchanged visits in 1988 to sign the agreement.
In the meantime, cultural exchange activities had already begun. Madisonians have provided home stays for visitors from Freiburg, and vice versa, enabling individuals to conduct research, apprenticeships, and youth exchanges.