The Rur river is flowing right through the medieval town of Monschau, where cobblestone streets, narrow alleys, and picturesque half-timbered houses turn the health resort into an Eifel idyl. The medieval town is certainly worth a visit. The only question is: should it be in summer or in winter? Actually, it’s best to drop by several times, as the town offers some unique highlights in any season.
Fairy-tale half-timbered houses
Small galleries and boutiques
The former weavers’ town is the cultural centre of the Eifel region. It is particularly popular among lovers of nature and food. About 300 white half-timbered houses with dark trusses and beams that seem to have sprung right from a fairy tale are placed in the Eifel’s green nature. Small galleries and boutiques are hidden in the winding alleys. Art and culture are supplied by Germany’s smallest town theatre and the town’s gallery in the Au-Kloster. Sooner or later, any visitor will pass the “Red house”. This magnificent patrician home built by J. H. Scheibler during the heyday of the weaving industry in the 18th century is impossible to miss and presents bourgeois domestic culture from the 18th and 19th centuries to its visitors.
Monschau Castle, built by the Dukes of Limburg in the late 12th century, is towering high above the town. If you do not want to walk there, the light rail will take you right to the vantage point by the castle. High villages around the old town provide a rural idyll for holidays in nature and serve as an ideal starting point for hikes and cycle tours.
Rur-Café and mustard mill
Mustard from Monschau
The place now called the “Rur-Café” has been offering culinary treats from the region since 1770. Any dish on the menu, no matter if it’s cheese, pork, or trout, is fresh from the Eifel region. The historical mustard mill has produced mustard in manual labour since 1882. Visitors can take a guided tour of the mustard mill, buy a jar of mustard to take home from the mustard shop, or dine in the affiliated restaurant Schnabuleum, a lovingly restored building monument. All dishes are refined with mustard produced on site. Ruth Breuer, proprietor of the historical mustard mill, at the same time serves as the NRW culinary ambassador for the Eifel and Aachen region.
Exploring the area by bike or on foot
Out into nature
If you like to be out on foot or by bike, you can take some tours into untamed nature from Monschau. In spring, hikers can immerse themselves in a sea of yellow daffodil flowers in the nature park Hohes Venn-Eifel. If you get lucky, you will even spot a beaver, deer, or dipper. Climbs to plateaus are rewarded with a beautiful vista of sparkling lakes. Setting out from Monschau, lovers of nature will easily reach the Eifel National Park, the first and only national park of North Rhine-Westphalia to date. Wildcats and black storks have made their homes here. The Urft and Rur rivers flow through the mountainous landscape characterised by powerful dams. The Eifel Trail takes hikers across mountaintops and through deep valleys on their way from Monschau to Einruhr. They can also walk a stage of the Wilderness Trail from Monschau. Starting in Monschau-Höfen, they will need to overcome an ascent, cross romantic meadowed valleys with brightly yellow daffodils, to eventually reach Simmerath-Einruhr on paths lined with fragrant wild herbs in summer.
If you prefer cycling to walking, you can ride your bike from Monschau to Belgium or Luxembourg on former railway lines. The Vennbahn Cycle Route is one of the longest cycling tracks built on former railway lines in Europe.
Monschau Christmas magic
A winter fairy tale
As soon as the temperatures drop, Monschau looks as if sprung right from a winter fairy tale. Snow covers the brightly lit half-timbered houses, multi-coloured Christmas trees decorate the town, and the quaint cafes and mulled-wine stands serve hot drinks to unfreeze their visitors. A stroll across the Monschau Christmas Market on one of the four Advent weekends is particularly atmospheric. If you like things calmer and even more contemplative, you can take a snow hike in the Hohes Venn-Eifel Nature Park.