Between health spas and the Hermann Monument
Traditional health and therapeutic spas and an outstanding choice of hiking and cycling trails: the Teutoburg Forest is all about health and relaxation.
Moorland, minerals and a fresh sea breeze – the Teutoburg Forest has everything to make visitors feel on top of the world. With six officially recognised health spas, one therapeutic climate spa, four Kneipp therapy locations as well as ten health resorts and four recreation resorts, the region can truly be called “spa central Germany”. The health theme is continued with numerous cycling and hiking trails, which occasionally provide insight into the history of the Teutoburg Forest on the scenic paths through the mountains.
In Bad Salzuflen, visitors can try the healing powers of salt water. The graduation tower, which was once used to produce salt, now provides the town with the closest thing to a seaside climate. Up to 300,000 litres of saltwater trickle down the tower’s wall of blackthorn every day. Meanwhile, the health benefits of the moorland are felt in Bad Driburg and Bad Meinberg. Enriching plant remains, which have naturally decomposed over centuries, give the spas’ sulphurous mud its healing power. In Bad Oeynhausen, visitors can drink the healing waters from mineral springs drawn from depths of up to 600 metres in the neoclassical surroundings of the bathhouse.
Reminders of the region’s long and turbulent history can be found throughout the Teutoburg Forest. The Hermannsdenkmal (Hermann Monument) near Detmold commemorates the Cherusci chieftain Hermann (also known as Arminius), who defeated the Roman legions in the year 9 AD. Not quite as high at up to 40 metres but just as impressive are the thirteen Externsteine sandstone pillars near Horn-Bad Meinberg. Christians are said to have established a place of worship here around 1100; a relief carving of Christ’s descent from the cross is the oldest preserved stone carving in Germany. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Schloss Corvey in the pretty half-timbered town of Höxter is an impressive-looking former abbey. It houses around 75,000 volumes of books in 15 rooms and ranks as one of Germany’s most important private libraries.
The hinterlands of these and other historic sites can easily be explored by foot or bicycle. The Weser-Radweg (River Weser Cycle Path), for instance, goes directly past Schloss Corvey in its stage from Höxter to the Rühler Schweiz area. One particular attraction for hikers is the Hermannshöhen (Hermann Heights) trail – where the two ridge trails of Hermannsweg (Hermann Trail) and Eggeweg (Egge Trail) come together, taking in palaces, castles and ruins, the Hermann Monument and the Externsteine.
Two low-gradient cycling routes also pass through the region. The roughly 150-kilometre Teuto-Ems Route straddles the Dutch border. Its flat, family-friendly course follows the old smuggler paths and trade routes through Münsterland and the Teutoburg Forest. Another mostly flat route is the EmsRadweg (River Ems Cycle Path), which follows the Ems for 375 kilometres from Hövelhof near Paderborn through Münsterland until it enters the North Sea.
Along their travels, visitors will also find several cities worth exploring. Bielefeld, for instance, has its historic old town, the Kunsthalle modern art museum and the prominent Sparrenburg Castle. Another eye-catching attraction in the region is the Museum Marta Herford with its curving building designed by the acclaimed US architect Frank O. Gehry. Paderborn attracts visitors with its imperial palace, historic town hall, cathedral and Schloss Neuhaus castle as well as the Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum, the world’s largest computer museum.
If all this touring has given you an appetite, a visit to the Westfalen Culinarium quartet of museums in Nieheim is a must. Each one is dedicated to a different foodstuff: cheese, beer, ham and bread. The Deutscher Käsemarkt (German Cheese Market), held every two years in the historic old town of Nieheim, is known well beyond the borders of Germany.