Munster is the town we have traveled the most outside Romania. Once a year in the past nine years, and the more I get to know it, the more I love it.
This town can be described in many ways, but to sum it up it’s the bicycle capital of Germany, it has one of the highest standards of living in Europe and has some of the best universities in Germany.
How to get here?
Located in North-Rhine Westphalia, this medium-sized town is only 30 minutes away by car or train from Dortmund, where you have cheap, direct flights from Romania.
Bits and bobs of Munster history
The beautiful historic center was completely destroyed by air bombs during WWII. All the cultural legacy was destined to be lost forever! Or not!?
After the war ended, local government decided to rebuild most of it to its pre-war state, so today we can still admire and walk the beautiful old town streets paved with cobbled stones and bordered by the narrow buildings with pointed roofs.
In contrast, Dortmund is a city that did not receive the same attention; also greatly damaged in war, the not so inspired municipality considered convenient to rebuild it all as a modern and functional city. But this condemned it to the loss of identity and today it’s know just for Borussia Dortmund football team and the shopping streets. I have not traveled to Dortmund, but all above opinions belong to our German friends, so we tend to believe them.
But back to Munster, the “Old” town, due to the restoration and reconstruction works, looks impeccable.
Prinzipalmarkt is the most beautiful street, also the main shopping street, with 48 gabled buildings and the ones that really stand out are the Historic Town Hall where the Treaty of Wesphalia was signed, and the Munster Wine House to its left.
At one end of this street there is St. Lamberty Kirche, the Gothic cathedral with a high and very pointed bell tower, a famous landmark in Munster. If you look better at the tower, you notice 3 cages. In a harsh period in the early 16th century, three Anabaptist leaders accused of causing many crimes and terror in the town, were executed and their bodies locked in and displayed up there to be seen by the people, as a warning against terrible conduct.
If you happen to be in Munster on a Wednesday, facing the Town Hall, to the left corner of the building, you’ll notice that an arm with a sword was added. This is a custom over 400 years old that announces the market day, when local farmers display their goods in the square in front of the Cathedral of Munster.
A perfect time to wander the streets of the old town and to take amazing pictures is at night, when they get denuded of people but there is still enough light from the shops to feel safe and see how beautiful and neat everything is around you.
Green city and pedal-power!
Munster won in 2004 “The World’s Most Liveable City” award and each year is in the race for European Green Capital. Today it has many ongoing projects to constantly reduce carbon emission, to supervise water and energy consumption, it is known as the “bicycle capital of Germany” and one of the best cities to live in Germany. Statistics say that every inhabitant has at least one bicycle and this is the main means of transport inside the city.
I mostly love the Munster Promenade. It is a circular road of 4.5 km, surrounding the central area of the town, bordered by tall trees, flowers and green patches where only pedestrians and bicycles are allowed.
There is also a big lake called Aa. Who said German names are long and difficult to remember? this one couldn’t get more simple, right!?
On the green terraces around the lake, the locals chill or barbecue every time there are sunny days.
Munster is also a renown university town in Germany. This makes it attractive to many businesses and a lively and cosmopolitan town. Schloss Munster, or the Palace of Munster, was transformed in the main University building.
Behind it there’s a lovely Botanical Garden, free entrance. In late March when we visited, we had amazing weather and everything was green and flowers were starting to blossom. Do not miss a walk through the alleys between the array of colorful flowers.
The whole area behind the university building, including the Gardens, formed the backyard of the Duke of Munster a few centuries ago.
This area is surrounded by a lake in star shape. Yes, you read it well, star shape:)
Where to eat, drink and party?
Being an university town, it thrives in students so you’ll find many places to stop for a drink and eat some local Westphalian dish. But there are two main areas that you’ll want to check: The Waterfront area on the docks of the river Aa has many pubs and night clubs. And in the old town, Kuhviertel is the name of a quarter with restaurants, student pubs, bars and also the oldest brewery in Munster Pinkus Brauerei.
It’s really appropriate to touch down the Weather subject in this article. We had the best time one could ask for the end of March. But as mentioned in the start of the article, we have been a lot of times here and we were not always so lucky because it rains quite a lot in this parts of Germany. If you plan your trip here, be prepared for some cloudy days and don’t leave home without an umbrella.