Historische Altstadt Monschau, © Oliver Franke/Tourismus NRW e.V.

His­tor­ic town and loc­al centres

Pic­tur­esque half-timbered houses, sweet nar­row pas­sages and his­tor­ic monu­ments

In the his­tor­ic loc­al and town centres in NRW, vis­it­ors can im­merse them­selves in the past and ex­per­i­ence the par­tic­u­lar charm of these places in cosy cafés or on ro­mantic squares - usu­ally away from the con­ges­ted areas and the streets where tour­ists usu­ally go. Here, you?ll find a se­lec­tion of his­tor­ic loc­al centres in NRW.

Alter Flecken, Freudenberg in Siegen-Wittgenstein, © Tourismus NRW e.V.


The Losemund-Brunnen foun­tain stands in the his­tor­ic centre of Bergneustadt. It takes its name from two wash­er­wo­men, who are said to have been gos­sips. Their im­ages dec­or­ate the foun­tain.


In the middle of forests and mead­ow val­leys, the black-and-white half-timbered houses are clustered close to­geth­er and form the ?Al­ter Fleck? (?old spot?), as Freuden­berg res­id­ents call their his­tor­ic old town centre, which is also a very pop­u­lar photo spot.


The old town centre of Soest, in the Sauer­land re­gion, of­fers beau­ti­ful streets with half-timbered houses, and ro­mantic nar­row lanes. Beer gar­dens, cafés and bars are good places to stop for a rest. In March, the Soest bar fest­iv­al is held here, which has now be-come fam­ous far bey­ond the town it­self, while in Novem­ber, there are ?Bil­lige Jakobs? (?cheap Jac­obs?) and ?Bul­lenauge? (?bull?s eye?) at the Soest All Saints fair, Europe?s largest old town fair.


A typ­ic­al fea­ture of this small Eifel town in the rocky Rur val­ley are the beech hedges, which are as high as the houses, and which the res­id­ents planted gen­er­a­tions ago to pro­tect their homes. On a guided tour, vis­it­ors can walk through un­spoilt nature in the Ho­hes Venn up­land moor­land, or ex­per­i­ence culin­ary del­ic­acies in the his­tor­ic mus­tard mill.

Bad Münstereifel

In this me­di­ev­al Eifel vil­lage, the Erft snakes its way past half-timbered houses and a re­stored town wall. Due to its sim­il­ar­ity with the small town of Rothen­burg ob der Tauber in Bav­ar-ia, the Kneipp spa town is also known as the ?Rhen­ish Rothen­burg?.

Bad Salzu­flen

Every day, 60,000 litres of salt wa­ter trickle over the grad­a­tion works in the heart of the town, and cre­ate a fresh sea breeze. Bad Salzu­flen, one of the most well-known spa baths in Ger­many, is loc­ated in the middle of the Teuto­bur­ger Wald nature park.


The his­tor­ic town centre of Lemgo has all the flair of the Re-nais­sance and the idyll­ic at­mo­sphere of the Lip­per­land re­gion. One im­port­ant urb­an ar­chi­tec­tur­al monu­ment is the ?Hex­en­bür­ger­meister­haus? (?witch may­or?s house?). The name goes back to may­or Her­mann Coth­mann, who was act­ively in­volved in the witch tri­als dur­ing the 17th cen­tury. The town hall in Lemgo is also re­garded as a monu­ment span­ning dif­fer­ent eras that is of par­tic­u­lar im­port­ance.


Hat­tin­gen, with its lov­ingly re­stored old town, lies on the south­ern bank of the Rur. The old­est build­ings are clustered around St. Georgs church: the ?Wachz­ins? (?watch tax?) houses and the ?old town hall? built in 1576. For vis­it­ors want­ing to ad­mire in­dus­tri­al cul-ture in Hat­tin­gen, along­side the half-timbered build­ings, it?s worth tak­ing a trip to the LWL-In­dus­triemu­seum, the Hein­rich­shütte.


With its tra­di­tion­al gast­ro­nomy and many re-stored houses, Rheda-Wieden­brück has re­tained its his­tor­ic charm. However, vis­it­ors can down­load an app on their smart­phone or tab­let and dis­cov­er the his­tor­ic town centre of Wieden­brück di­git­ally. It?s al-so par­tic­u­larly worth tak­ing a trip to the Rheda wa­ter palace.


In the shad­ow of Burg Linn castle, vis­it­ors can en­joy tra­di­tion­al hos­pit­al­ity in the nar­row lanes of the his­tor­ic town centre in Linn. Every year at Whit­sun, there?s an op­por­tun­ity to vis­it the Flax Mar­ket, the largest han­di­craft mar­ket in Ger­many, and take a trip back in time to the Middle Ages.


Gasse im historischen Ortskern von Essen-Kettwig, © Hannah Piecha / Tourismus NRW e.V.

Bed­burg-Alt Kaster

Many vis­it­ors between Aachen and Co­logne also know Bed­burg and its his­tor­ic dis­trict of Alt-Kaster as the ?castle town on the Erft?. The Nikolaus­markt, which is held every year, is par­tic­u­larly at­mo­spher­ic, when res­id­ents open up their homes and back yards to of­fer hand-made products.


The pic­tur­esque Hanse town of War­burg lies at the foot of the Eggege­birge nature park, sur­roun­ded by forests. From the old town, vis­it­ors can take a trip to the castle ru­ins on the Desen­berg hill close by. 


Dur­ing the Ro­man era, Xanten was one of the most im-port­ant met­ro­pol­it­an towns of the Ger­man­ic province of Rome. In the LVR-Römer­mu­seum, there are mod­els of an am­phi­theatre and port temple, res­id­en­tial set­tle­ments, spas and town walls from the Ro­man peri­od. Xanten is worth a vis­it. 


The mu­ni­cip­al­ity of Kettwig lies dir­ectly on the Ruhr river. In sum­mer in par­tic­u­lar, it is a pop­u­lar day trip des­tin­a­tion for hikers and cyc­lists. The old town is the per­fect place to take a break and en­joy an ice cream, sur­roun­ded by the ro­mantic flair of the half-timbered build­ings.


The pic­tur­esque centre of Kais­er­werth with its Baroque houses from the 17th and 18th cen­tury is a pop­u­lar day trip des­tin­a­tion, in­clud­ing for Düs­sel­dorf res­id­ents. The ru­ins of the im­per­i­al palace of Friedrich Bar­bar­ossa are situ­ated dir­ectly on the Rhine. Here, it?s worth mak­ing a stop in the cafés and beer gar­dens.


A trip to Grä­frath is like tak­ing a jour­ney back in time. In the typ­ic­al black, white and green col­ours of the Ber­gisches Land re­gion, vis­it­ors will find the his­tor­ic town centre with its re­stored half-timbered build­ings, an idyll­ic mar­ket square and an im­press­ive mon­as­tery church.


Every year, around one hun­dred thou­sand pil­grims vis­it this pil­grim­age des­tin­a­tion on the river Ems, which is around 1,200 years old. In the me­di­ev­al town centre, there are tra­di­tion­al West­phali­an res­taur­ants and small spe­cial­ist shops. The pil­grim­age des­tin­a­tion has been im­mor­tal­ised in Günter Grass? story ?Das Tref­fen in Tel­gte? (?The Meet­ing in Tel­gte?).


As well as the his­tor­ic centre, it?s worth tak­ing a trip to the Bagno in Stein­furt - the most beau­ti­ful green space in the Mün­ster­land re­gion. In the ?Lust­garten?, vis­it­ors can take a jour­ney in­to the 18th cen­tury - with his­tor­ic loc­a­tions, re­gion­al build­ing stones, monu­ments and mod­ern sculp­tures wait­ing to be dis­covered.


This eques­tri­an centre is one of the most beau­ti­ful towns in the Mün­ster­land re­gion.  His­tor­ic mer­chants? houses from dif­fer­ent eras sur­round the mar­ket square, while me­di­ev­al streets and pas­sages run through the town centre.


The dis­trict of Alt-Win­deck with its many half-timbered houses has already won an award as the most beau­ti­ful vil­lage in the Rhine-Sieg re­gion sev­er­al times. Win­deck is also sur­roun­ded by castles. The old castle ru­ins of Win­deck gave the mu­ni­cip­al­ity its name, and are also a sym­bol of the town.  


For any­one want­ing to see more half-timbered build­ings, there are more town and loc­al centres lis­ted here: www.his­tor­ische-ortskerne-nrw.de

  • ©
    Historischer Ortskern von Krefeld-Linn, © Stadt Krefeld Presse und Kommunikation
    Ansicht auf den Marktplatz Lemgo, © Lemgo Marketing
    Alter Flecken Freudenberg in Siegen-Wittgenstein, © Tourismus NRW e.V.
  • ©
    Ansicht auf eine Gasse in Bedburg Alt-Kaster, © Rhein-Erft Tourismus e.V.
    Ansicht auf den historischen Ortskern von Warburg, © H. Roesel / Hansestadt Warburg
    Historischer Ortskern Hattingen Weihnachtsmarkt, © Sandra Glomb / Hattingen Marketing
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His­tor­ic town and loc­al centres

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