Destinations

Locations

Modern mediaeval city.in Germany

Munster is a curiously overlooked tourist destination. This busy student city in north-west Germany is steeped in history and smothered in greenery. It can rightly claim to be one of the most bicycle friendly places on earth. Gareth Huw Davies reports on a modern mediaeval city.

Munster is a curiously overlooked tourist destination. This busy student city in north-west Germany is steeped in history and smothered in greenery. It can rightly claim to be one of the most bicycle friendly places on earth. Gareth Huw Davies reports on a modern mediaeval city.

For the best idea of how the historic cities of Germany must have looked before the ravages of the Second World War, go to Münster 
Allied bombers destroyed 92% of its historic heart.  But unlike other cities, which were rebuilt in modern style, Münster  decided to put itself together again just as it was, faithful to the original plan.
As a recreated homage to Medieval Germany, Münster  deserves to be better known. The German Tourist Board gives it a boost by including it in its list of 13 ''Historic Highlights of Germany'' cities.

Münster is well-placed to receive British visitors. It is one of those ''easily reached in a day'' destinations, just a four and a half-hour drive from the Channel Tunnel. But anybody arriving by car, should consider swiftly changing to a bicycle.
The city is one of the most bicycle friendly places in Europe.  A third of the population commute by bicycle, and tourists are welcome to join in this great whizzing throng.
Cyclists and walkers have their own '' Ring Road''. The 3.5 mile circular  Promenade, canopied with trees and bordered with meadows, was made when the city ramparts were removed, (The entire city is enclosed by its scenic outer wrapping. The surrounding Münsterland is a pleasant countryside with over 100 castles, fortresses and palaces.)
This was a proud old Hanseatic trading town. The clues are in the trademark high-stepped brick shop and house fronts. Many of the finest examples - some original features, merged with reconstructions - ring the old town Square. The Treaty of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years War, was signed in the Town Hall.
Munster has its own, 13th century, St. Paul’s Cathedral - one of 90 religious buildings.  Its astronomical clock dates from 1540, and is designed to tell the time, date, day, seasons, and whatever else they knew then about the heavens-for the next 532 years. Only 62 years to go before they have to reschedule a wooden watchman blows his horn every hour.
There is a tender symbol to liberty in the three iron cages hanging from the tower of the Gothic St. Lampert’s Church. 400 years ago religious dissenters were left to die in these cages. Today a single light shines out from each one to signify that freedom can''t be caged.
The town deserves its place in the world list of galleries for the Pablo Picasso Graphics Museum, opened in 2003. The 780 original lithographs form the most complete collection of its sort in the world. This remarkable homage to the Catalan artist was partly funded by local banks.
It heads an eclectic list of collections, including the Carnival Museum,  Bible Museum,  Organ Museum, and the Museum of Lacquer Art. The city’s Mühlenhof Open Air Museum brings together buildings from throughout the region.  It includes an apiary, a stable, a windmill, a smithy, and a shoemaker’s shop. 
You don''t see much Baroque architecture this far north in Europe. Münster has three fine buildings - a palace and two churches - cast in this richly ornate style on ''Baroque island''

Münster is a big university town, with all the usual buzz  and sparkle. The liveliest atmosphere, and the best place to eat and drink, is in the Kuhviertel (Cow District) with fine pubs  and ancient restaurants. Even students are prepared to wait for the famous Altbier, they beer aged about six months with a sweet, wine-like character. It’s often served with sliced fresh peaches or strawberries.
Every ten years Münster invites sculptors and other artists to design massive items to display outdoors. You can visit this growing collection in the “Skulptour.” One of the most famous pieces is “Tolerance through Dialogue”, nothing more than two large chairs facing each other. As Churchill said, and it''s very appropriate here: ''Jaw Jaw is better than war war.''


Join Directory of Destinations on Facebook
Follow Directory of Destinations on Twitter