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Münster, Germany

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ABOVE: The Dom was built in the 13th Century and was restored after being bombed in World War II.

Münster sightseeing

photoNearly all of Münster's important sights are within the Altstadt or old town, which is encircled by the Promenade (a narrow green belt with bicycle and walking paths that replaced the old medieval walls in the late 1700s). The comprehensive Münster City Guide, which is described on our Tourist Information page, will help you get oriented and decide what to see. Some of the more important sights include:

photoThe Dom, also known as St-Paulus Cathedral, which was built in the 13th Century. Look for the astronomical clock, a mechanical device from the late Middle Ages that puts on a daily show at noon (12:30 p.m. on Sundays and holidays). The cathedral was heavily damaged in World War II, and a chapel contains the smashed bells that fell down from the tower in the bombing of October 28, 1944. You can also see photos of the ravaged building as it looked before being restored in the 1950s.

photoThe old Rathaus, or city hall, with its Friedensaal where the Westphalian Peace was signed in 1648 to end the 30 Years War. The 14th Century building was badly damaged by incendiary bombs in World War II, but the interior of the Friedensaal had been removed at the beginning of the war and was returned to the building after reconstruction.

The Prinzipalmarkt, a street of arcaded buildings in the middle of the old town's lively and prosperous shopping district.

The Lambertikirche, a.k.a. the Church of St. Lamberti, with its three "Anabaptist cages" where the corpses of three executed Anabapist leaders were hung in the 16th Century. (Cardinal von Galen, who publicly opposed Hitler's euthanasia policy and secret-police terror tactics, gave his anti-Nazi speeches here in World War II.)

photoThe Erbdrostenhof and the tiny Clemenskirche next door, which were built in the mid-1700s and have been described as an "island of Baroque" in the medieval plan of the old town.

The Schloss, or castle, which lies just outside the western edge of the Altstadt and is now the seat of Münster's university. The Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster is the third-largest uni in Germany, with about 39,000 students (including more than 3,500 from abroad).

The Aasee, a narrow urban lake southwest of the old town, which offers boat rides in summer. A park along the lake contains the Mühlenhof open-air museum, a natural history museum and planetarium, and the Altwetterzoo.

photoThe Hafen, or harbor, which is beyond the railroad station and is home to the Kreativkai, a restored warehouse district with clubs, restaurants, and trendy businesses such as publishing houses and advertising agencies. Boats connect the harbor with Dortmund via the Dortmund-Ems-Kanal.

Sculptures

photoMünster has 57 major works of sculpture scattered about town. Ask the tourist office for a copy of  Sculptures in Münster. The brochure shows where to find works by international artists such as Claes Oldenburg's Pool Balls (see inset photo), Jorge Pardo's Pier on the Aasee, and one of our own favorites, Die überfrau or Superwoman by Tom Otterness, which is next to the city library.

Guided tours

Münster Information offers daily guided walking tours of the Altstadt from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. year-round. (No advance booking required.) The official language is German, but if you're lucky, the guide may provide highlights in English.

Depending on the month and day of the week, other walking tours, taxi and bus tours, and other itineraries may be offered for individuals and groups. One of the most popular walks is the "Night-Watchman's Tour," a blend of history and theatre led by a costumed watchman with a lantern.

Specialized tours in English or Dutch are subject to demand, so it's a good idea to inquire (and, if possible, reserve) ahead of time. Check the listings at Stadt-Lupe Münster to learn what will be on the calendar during your visit.

Next page: Museums in Münster




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