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Münster Part II: The Secular Side of the City


Some history about the structure of the city needs to be explained first, with the help of a 3D bronze model that is actually meant for blind people.
We see the Dom, its surroundings and the wide square in front. Then there is the semicircular Prinzipalmarkt, a market street, with townhouses densely lined up along both sides. Behind the inner row of the houses, there is an empty space. This used to be kind of an inner-city border between the realm of the Bishop and the bourgeois city under the administration of the magistrate. In former times there was a wall that divided the two. Except for one (new) bigger street opposite the city hall, only small passages connect Prinzipalmarkt with Domplatz. The line where the wall used to be is marked in the pavement. The big Lambertikirche with its tall gothic spire was built by magistrate and townspeople as an opponent to the mighty cathedral.




The long street market is the heart of Münster. Most of the gothic and renaissance houses along both sides have been damaged by World War II bomb raids. The rebuilding after the war has been done in a remarkably honest but careful way. The general shape of the facades has been kept but the details and ornaments are modern.
The ambience of the square has been maintained without doing Disneyland copies that pretend the houses are centuries old and the war has never happened.
Like in former times there are many shops of all kinds underneath the arcades along the market. Good and even elegant shops, but not snobbishly upscale. In case you plan a shopping tour, start here.



Every year in early September, usually on the weekend after the end of our conference, they have a festival in the old town. Days before, Prinzipalmarkt is decorated with lines of little triangular flags in the city's colours: red, white and yellow.

These create interesting photo options together with the gables above.
The effects are eye-confusing. The lines of flags make a raster and turn the architecture behind into a graphic ornament.

When and where Münster made history II: Rathaus and the Westphalian Peace Treaty (1648)


The city hall has been damaged in World War II just like the other houses in Prinzipalmarkt. Due to its historical significance it has been reconstructed in its original shape with its gothic facade. The city’s tourist information resides on the ground floor .


This building has seen an event that was a milestone in history for the whole of Central Europe. In May 1648 one half of the Westphalian Peace Treaty that ended the Thirty Years War was negotiated and finally signed in the hall of the city council.
The hall has been named „Friedenssaal“ (peace hall) ever since. It is furnitured with beautifully carved renaissance woodwork, though smaller than I had expected. Portraits on the wall present all the participants in the negotiations of 1648. The hall can be visited with ‘guided tours’, which are in fact done by a tape.


More Sights in the City Centre

Art Nouveau Tower of Stadthaus


The so-called „Stadthaus“ („City House“) was built next to the old city hall in 1902 1907 to accommodate offices of the city administration. While the rest of the building and everything around was destroyed in World War II, the tower survived miraculously and almost without damage.
The tower is a landmark in the heart of the city where Prinzipalmarkt and Ludgeristraße meet. The style happily mixes neo-renaissance and art nouveau elements. Along Ludgeristraße, one of the main shopping streets, you walk straight towards it.

In 2001 the tower received a new carillon that rings every day at 11.00, 15.00 and 19.00.



The baroque palace was designed by Johann Conrad Schlaun, Westfalen’s great 18th century architect. It was the city palace of a noble family who were important civil servants in the bishopric.

The palace grounds are located on a street corner. Schlaun had to find a solution how to create a building that met the common taste's ideal of symmetry on a ground in the shape of a crooked triangle. He succeded! He positioned the main building diagonally so that a triangular courtyard was formed in front of it. A high wrought-iron fence separates it from the public street.

The Drost or Droste was actually the title of a high-ranking official in the administration. Since the positions soon became inheritable and connected to certain noble families, they adopted the title as part of their name and called themselves „Droste zu (of) Nameofplace“. The best-known member of such a family is probably the 19th century poet Annette von Droste zu Hülshoff, or von Droste-Hülshoff as she is usually named. (But she is from a different family than the one here.



The Kiepenkerl, the pannier guy, recalls the poor Westphalian merchants and workers who were tramping the countryside with a pannier on their back, struggling to make a living.

The monument in Spiekerhof has become the name patron of the two adjacent restaurants, Großer and Kleiner Kiepenkerl, one rather upscale, the other at a more reasonable price level.

In 2018 this square was the site of a terrible amok run when some psycho drove his van into a group of people, killing four and severely injuring several more, before he shot himself.

Picasso Museum and Square


Münster has its shares of museums. The abovementioned Landesmuseum is the flagship. For fans of more recent art, there is the Picasso museum – sadly, I have to admit that I have never visited hence I can’t tell much about it.
The most recent acquisition of Münster's art scene: The square in front of the Picasso Museum has received a new pavement from stones in different colours which depicts the face of Picasso, including his famous striped sweater. The inauguration happened just when I was there, on September 1, 2010.
It is a bit hard to see from ground level. You get a better idea from the top of the stairs in front of the museum entrance but to really see the picture you'd have to be at a window on the upper floors of the surrounding houses. I have photoshopped one of my photos to give an idea.


Museum of Lacquer Art


A hidden gem in Münster’s cultural landscape. Their opening hours are limited and only during the 8th conference I attended in Münster, I finally managed to see it.
Lacquer is a traditional and very expensive technique in the art of the far east. When princes and nobility started collecting porcelain from China and Japan in the 17th century, also the first pieces of lacquer art came to Europe. In fact, these were known as “black porcelain” in the beginning. While porcelain, or china, has been produced in Europe since the early 18th century, equal attempts to set up a production of lacquer were never as successful.
Lacquer was made from the resin of a certain tree that grows in China, Japan and Korea. Many thin layers were applied, polished, another layer applied… elaborate and costly work. Black, red and yellow are the traditional background colours that were then painted with scenes or landscapes in gold or lighter colours. We all know the typical decorations of Chinese restaurants with scenes in gold on a black ground – these are a cheapo imitation but they give an idea of the style.
The museum is based on a collection owned by BASF. In addition to the historical pieces, they are regularly showing temporary exhibitions of modern lacquer art.
A museum for people who love precious, delicate, unusual pieces of art that require time and a close look.
No photos inside, sorry.

Krameramthaus - House of the Merchant Guild


The renaissance building behind Lambertikirche has been repaired in its original shape after the war. It is the house of Dutch culture and hosts exhibitions of contemporary art nowadays.
The house served as accommodation for the Dutch delegation during the negotiations that lead to the Peace Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, which ended the 30 Years War.



Once upon a time Münster's city walls had eleven gates and seven towers. All these are long gone. Only one of the towers is preserved. I cannot tell where the name Buddenturm comes from. The white tower and red roof are part of the skyline among the many steeples. During its mixed history the tower has served as watchtower, prison, powder mill, storage, and water tower. In the 19th century it was augmented and ornated with pinnacles, but these were taken down during the repair works after the war. Instead it received the present cone-shaped roof 'in old style'.

The New Diözesanbibliothek: impressive example of modern architecture that went well


The new library building is, in my opinion, a fine example of modern architecture within historical surroundings. It is basically a long rectangular 'box' with uniform rectangular windows, pleasantly unpretentious in its design. Together with the gothic steeple of Überwasserkirche and the 19th century, neo-renaissance facade of Liudgerhaus it forms an ensemble that fits well together despite its diversity of styles. All three facades were built from sandstone in the same color - this is the connecting element. Walk along the passage between library and Liudgerhaus and note how the architect used the tricks of perspective.
The building hosts the central library of the diocese, one of the largest scientific theology libraries in Germany. The library as such is an old institution, the history of which goes back to the middle ages. Their new home, a modern library with all technical features, has been opened in 2005.

Schloss Münster


The modern vestibule

The palace of the Bishop of Münster was built in the 18th century by Westphalia’s most famous baroque architect, Johann Conrad Schlaun. After the secularization the palace became property of the university, which is still using it as their main building.
Like most of the city the palace suffered severe damage in World War II. The facades were reconstructed by the interior has been redesigned in 1950s style, nothing is left of the historical rooms.
West of the Schloss a huge park extends along what used to be the moat of the citadel.


Botanical Garden



The inner part of the park behind the Schloss contains a beautiful Botanical Garden. The garden is taken care of by the university’s institute of botany and serves for scientific research. They have an enormous variety of plants from all continents assembled in garden compartments and greenhouses according to the climate and soil conditions of their homeland. A walk through the gardens is a walk around the world. I really really recommend visiting. The gardens are open during daylight hours. Access is free; donations enable them to grant free entry.
The botanical garden is a secret favourite of mine. It is a beautiful spot to walk and explore all those different flowers and herbs, shrubs and trees from all over the world, or to find a bench in a quiet spot and sit and relax, and rest from all that “churching” done before ????
The wombats were overjoyed to sniff eucalyptus leaves in the Australia garden

Previous: https://germany-kathrin-e.travellerspoint.com/236/
Sequel: Münster Part III: Around Aasee

Posted by Kathrin_E 08:25 Archived in Germany Tagged museum university garden biking münster nordrhein-westfalen

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