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Visiting Bielefeld - the City That Does Not Exist

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"Where am I?"

It is a known fact in Germany that a city named "Bielefeld" does not exist. No one knows any person from Bielefeld or anyone who has actually been there. It is all part of a great conspiracy which pretends its existence.
Hence we were really astonished when I read in the schedule of our excursion (a conference excursion starting from Münster Academy, see my blog entry Münster Part I) that we were going to "Bielefeld".

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"We are going WHERE ????"

This was a conference excursion starting from Münster Academy, see my blog entry Münster Part I. Russell the Wombat was part of the group, of course. We had already stopped at three different places in the countryside, and the last entry in the itinerary was "Bielefeld". Everyone on the coach was somehow puzzled. Where are we really going?

Countless silly jokes were made by everyone, except by the poor guide who was a bit fed up with us after a while, I’m afraid. But he took it in good humour.

From the Autobahn we saw nothing but green all around. No city, nothing. But (fake?) signs have been put up to make people believe that they are approaching a city named Bielefeld.

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Looks convincing, doesn't it?

We got to see a city of notable size, with some interesting churches and fine architecture, including several renaissance houses, a neo-renaissance city hall and art nouveau theatre. They pretended that this was Bielefeld, but as there is no Bielefeld, we are still wondering where we really have been!

Now, in order to solve the riddle about The Bielefeld Conspiracy, please read the related Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bielefeld_Conspiracy

This is one of the funniest spoofs on the internet. It was first published in 1994 and is still around and well known.

During a party of students, one claimed he was from Bielefeld. Another said spontaneously, “But Bielefeld does not exist.” No one around neither had ever been nor knew anyone who had ever been. Some alcohol was certainly part of the game. But the next day, sober again, one of them wrote a text about the “Bielefeld Conspiracy” and put it on a website.

This is satire, making fun of the believers in conspiracies – more topical than ever in times of Corona, eh – but not everyone realized. The site soon became viral.

For the German readers among us, here is the original text: http://www.bielefeldverschwoerung.de/ Enjoy!

It claims that there are certain unnamed “THEY” who have created the illusion that there is a city called Bielefeld, in order to hide something completely different. All this in cooperation with the public authorities.

The representants of Bielefeld municipality had the brains to recognize the satire and to turn the tables on it. As the story became widely known, the city started using it for their marketing.

Even our chancellor Angela Merkel referred to it once in a speech. Just like her, we also "had the impression that we have really been there".

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So maybe... it DOES exist?

"Churching Excursion" to Bielefeld

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This is my favourite photo of the excursion...
But I’m afraid I was the only participant who saw the giant wombat sitting on top of the chapel.
But note the guy in the background who is taking a photo of me taking the wombat photo. Unfortunately I never got to see that picture.

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St Jodokus

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Since seminar and excursion were about church architecture and interiors, this is what we focused on. In Bielefeld we saw two fine churches. The first of them was St Jodokus. It used to be the church of the Franciscan monastery. The convent buildings adjacent to the church are also still there although the monks are long gone.

The main access to the church leads through a small forecourt, then into that modern door.

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The church has been turned into a "City Church" which is meant to attract everyone who is Christian, everyone who seeks peace and quiet and the vicinity of God, although its denomination is and remains Roman Catholic.

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They have installed little chapels, art works, quiet places to sit and pray or contemplate, so people can find themselves a spot that matches their needs and likes. An interesting concept which combines medieval and modern art and architecture.

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The inner cloister
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Chapel of the Sacrament, first with the altar closed, then open

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The annex building in the first photo, the one with the giant wombat on top, is the very new chapel of the Holy Sacrament.

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St Nikolai

The second church we visited was St Nikolai in the very centre of the city. In World War II the church has been badly damaged, and afterwards it was rebuilt using modern elements. But I am afraid we did not really do this church justice, as everyone was tired after a long day on tour.
The lower part of the steeple is still historical, while the top and spire are obviously post-war and modern.
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In between the churches we walked, or shall I say run, so we got at least some glimpses and quick snapshots of a bit more of Bielefeld's centre along the way. As in most German cities World War II has left its marks, so a lot of the architecture is post-war. The streets are pedestrianized, no cars, hence pleasant to walk.

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A stall with tomatoes on the market

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This house is all covered in tiles, that's why they call it Kachelhaus - the tile house. Love the colour!

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At the foot of the big spire of St Nikolai. Note the renaissance house in the distance.

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It belongs to a whole group of such houses in the main square. This is the prettiest square in the centre. There are fine-looking street cafes. It would have been a nice place to sit and enjoy some goodies. But we had no time...

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The main shopping street is all new and nothing special.

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Town hall and theatre together make one of Bielefeld's nicest street view. Here, two minutes before the end of the excursion, the camera battery died. I always take a spare one, but this was already the spare one. I had consumed two battery loads in one day. Now that was good timing. Almost good, as from another angle the photo would have turned out better but I could not take it any more.

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Last photo of the day

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Posted by Kathrin_E 08:38 Archived in Germany Tagged churches münster nordrhein-westfalen bielefeld

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Comments

What a strange idea. Shows the power of the internet for spreading rumours.

by irenevt

I was intrigued by your title and the idea of a city that doesn't exist! I like the mix of medieval and modern in St Jodokus - it reminds me somewhat of a church I visited in Koblenz

by ToonSarah

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