Münster - Cycle City
Visit one of the world’s most liveable cities
Whether by bike or on foot, the city of Münster was chosen as the “World’s Most Liveable City” in 2004. See for yourself all that Münster has to offer!
As the name suggests, the city of Münster is set in the heart of Münsterland. Münster has more than just history to offer – even though the Peace of Westphalia treaty was signed here in 1648, bringing the Thirty Years’ War to an end. The city has experienced great successes in the present as well. For example, the picturesque city was chosen as the “World’s Most Liveable City” in 2004. And life can truly be very good in Münster. Even day-trippers and tourists can get an idea of the high quality of life Münster has to offer: The cityscape is characterised not only by its green areas, Altstadt (Old Town), cathedral, Prinzipalmarkt marketplace and the Fürstbischöfliches Schloss (Prince Bishop’s Palace), but also by its many bicycles. The bicycle is actually the most popular means of transport in Münster, and with around 500,000 “Leeze” (the local word for a bike) they outnumber the inhabitants two-to-one. Taking to the saddle reduces traffic and pleasantly eases the city’s pace. Münster was able to defend its title of Germany’s most bicycle-friendly city in a 2015 survey by the German Cyclist's Association (ADFC).
Whether by bike or on foot – there’s lots to discover in Münster. The first port of call for visitors to the city is usually the historic Old Town, whose cityscape breathes life into Münster’s 1,200-year history. The square around St. Paul’s Cathedral tells of the history of the city’s creation. The Hanseatic city’s medieval past can be seen in the Prinzipalmarkt, with its half-timbered houses. The Prince Bishop’s Palace, which today houses part of the university, numerous churches and the Stadtpalais are a testament to Münster’s prosperity in late Baroque period. The Rathaus (City Hall), where the Peace of Westphalia brought the Thirty Years’ War to an end, and the three cages hanging from the tower of St. Lambert’s church, where executed Anabaptists were put on display, demonstrate the power of this former episcopal see.
Culinary, artistic and shopping delights
Visitors can take guided tours to find out more about the city's past. One such special tour is the “Nachtwächter-Schmaus” (Night Watchmen’s Feast), a night-time tour of the city in which participants experience the architectural, historical and culinary aspects of Münster by lantern light. This atmospheric city tour tells the tale of rich merchants and grimy alleyways, bustling market life and episcopal rule. The climax of this journey through time is a four-course culinary feast: the evening ends in style in the traditional atmosphere of the “Altes Gasthaus Leve”, which has existed since the era of the night watchman’s guild in the 17th and 18th centuries. Visitors gain another glimpse into Münster’s past during the Hansemahl feast. Every year the city celebrates the International Day of the Hanse and revives its past as a Hanseatic city with banquet tables, sandwiches and music. Another event sure to impress with its culinary delights is the “Münster verwöhnt”, a gourmet event held in the summer, where restaurants and renowned chefs from Münsterland dish up regional specialities.
Münster is also a centre for discerning shoppers. The area around the medieval arcades of the Prinzipalmarkt is home to both exquisite shops and luxurious department stores. The city centre is also home to the Kiepenkerl district, which features shops on the ground floors of historic merchants’ houses. Visitors can combine their shopping sprees with artistic enjoyment. Now famous far beyond the borders of Münsterland, the Pablo Picasso Art Museum houses over 800 lithographs by the famous artist. Visitors can admire a thoroughly unique collection at the Museum of Lacquer Art. The Museum has a collection of around 100 pieces of lacquerware from East Asia, Europe and the Islamic world, some of which are more than 2000 years old. Visitors can experience the history of Münsterland up close at Mühlenhof-Freilichtmuseum (Mühlenhof Open-Air Museum). Some 30 historic buildings have been rebuilt here, giving visitors to the museum a taste of how people in the region experience life and work across four centuries. The Münster Christmas market on the Prinzipalmarkt, is one of the most popular Christmas markets in Germany, is also of great cultural importance of course. Shining with lights, the market is held in the Old Town every year during the Advent season and enchants visitors with its reflective atmosphere.
Experience nature around Münster
Münster also offers several opportunities for relaxing outdoor pursuits. The city’s many green areas combine to form a special feature: parks like the Aegidiischanze, the Engelenschanze or the Kreuzschanze were created on the site of former fortifications. Today these new green areas are ideal for picnics, relaxing or ball games. Visitors can admire the exotic plants on display in the Botanical Garden next to the castle. And the Aasee invites visitors to take a rest on the waterfront. There, pedestrians will also stumble upon some artistic finds: Though “Skulptur Projekte Münster” (“Sculpture Projects Münster”), a public-space sculpture exhibition, only takes place once every ten years, many of the sculptures remain on permanent display around the Aasee for art lovers to enjoy.
The Münsterland area surrounding the cycle city also proves inviting for visitors interested in taking long bike rides. The 100-Schlösser-Route (100 Castles Route) is particularly recommended, as it leads cyclists to a number of Romantic castles, moated castles and mansions in Münsterland. Only six kilometres north of Münster lies a nature reserve, which, although it seems like a natural paradise, was actually made by human hands. Avid bird-watchers in particular get their money’s worth at the Naturgebiet Rieselfelder (Rieselfelder Nature Reserve) in Münster; with more than 130 lakes, this lake district provides an important roosting and moulting area for migratory birds. Many exotic animals can be admired at Münster Zoo, which is a popular destination even in the rain: several "all-weather paths" allow visitors to walk to many enclosures without getting their feet wet.