A Travellerspoint blog

October 2020

Münster Part III: Around Aasee



The academy is conveniently located close to a green area that invites for a quick walk or bike ride during intermissions, but also has quite some activities to offer. Its centre is the lake named Aasee. The river with the short and strange name Aa (simply pronounced „Ah“) widens to a very long but rather narrow lake in the southwest of the city. The lake is surrounded by parks, walking and biking trails. A small ferry transports pedestrians across the lake to the attractions at its far end: the zoo, the planetary and nature museum, and Mühlenhof Museum village. Rowing and pedal boats and sailboats are for rent at the eastern end of the lake.
Due to its shape the lake is suitable for regattas. It is used for international rowing competitions once a year.


Among the pedal, sail and rowing boats on Aasee, there is one boat in the shape of a big white swan that belongs to the boat rental at the end of the lake. This boat became the hero of a tragic love story.
A real live swan fell in love with the boat and courted it for years in a row - obviously without much success. Since swans are monogamous, there would never be a happy ending. This poor bird had to live with the heartache. Soon people nicknamed the female black swan „Petra“. There was quite a bit of media hype about the story. For those who read German, there is more about her in the German Wikipedia:
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petra_%28Schwan%29 The swan is gone, but her beloved boat is easily spotted on the lake.


Zentralfriedhof – Main Cemetery of Münster



Münster’s main cemetery, located between palace and Aa lake, covers a huge area. It is not exactly a tourist destination but if you are in this part of the town it is worth a look. In the front part around the alley old tombstones of famous citizens and noble families are to be found.

The cemetery is divided among the parishes of the city, most of which are catholic but the protestants have their grave fields, too. The monasteries have their own graveyards with uniform little tombstones showing the names of the monks or nuns.





The field with the graves of the Clemensschwestern (Sisters of St Clement) in Zentralfriedhof has long rows with little tombstones that are all alike.

All except one.

One of the nuns got a special grave in a modern glass chapel which is visited frequently by faithful catholics who leave candles and flowers and „Thank You“ gifts. One of them, Sister M. Euthymia, was beatified under Pope John Paul II, so her grave became a pilgrimage destination.

Life of Sister M. Euthymia


Emma Offing was born in Halverde (Steinfurt district) in 1914. In 1934 she joined the order of the Clemensschwestern in Münster and received the name Euthymia. There she became a trained nurse. During the war she took care of prisoners of war and forced labourers. These called her „Angel of Love“.
In 1948 she returned to Münster and took the direction of the laundry of convent and hospital. Despite a lot of work she remained the friendly sister who had a smile and a good word for everyone and helped everyone who asked her to. She spent a lot of time in prayer.
In 1955 she died of cancer. Since her death people have been praying for her intercession with the Lord.
Sister M. Euthymia was beatified in Rome on October 7, 2001.
(Translated by yours truly from the board outside the chapel)


Mühlenhof Museum Village



Mühlenhof, named after the windmill in the middle, is an open-air museum with old houses from all over Westfalen. Those houses were about to be demolished in their original location but instead have been transferred to the museum village and restored.
Houses, workshops, stables etc. are furnitured with everything a working farm and household would need, as if the owners had just left.
I like such museum villages. They show what rural life used to be like 100 or 200 years ago.



The village school of Bingel where children of all ages used to learn in one classroom makes us appreciate our modern schools…


The Zoo

Münster has a very nice and enjoyable zoo. Take your time because it is big, walks are long, and there is a lot to see so you do not feel the long walks. The animals inhabit roomy enclosures which resemble their natural habitat as much as possible and they all look well-kept. It is a modern scientific zoo administered in accordance with international standards and takes part in Europe-wide breeding programmes of endangered species.
They name it “Allwetterzoo”, a zoo for all kinds of weather - well, only the main houses are connected by covered paths, the rest is open-air as anywhere else. So if the weather isn't perfect, take an umbrella despite the name.
The entrance fee looks steep at first sight. However, it includes everything: the zoo, the aquarium, the dolphin show, the horse museum - other zoos would charge extra for each. In relation to what they offer it is worth the money.

Mr and Mrs are going for a walk

My collection of zoo faces:



Families: Apart from the usual repertoire, like playgrounds, a kids’ zoo with goats and sheep and chickens, pony riding and a lot of boards with information directed at children, there are some interactive specials your kids will particularly enjoy. They may help feeding the penguins (only at the feeding hour) by throwing fish for them into the basin. Visitors can also feed the elephants during their regular feeding hour.

Can you spot the flying fish?

Lunchtime at the zoo:

Bad table manners


The aquarium is included in the zoo price, it is one of the several houses that are connected to the entrance buildings on covered paths. It is, I have to admit, not very big. They have mostly tropcal fish (no sharks, sorry) and some reptiles, amphibia and so on on the upper floor. The light was all right for some photography.

Who is watching whom?

Dolphin Nando and his keeper

The Dolphinarium is open all day, so you can watch the animals - bottlenose dolphins and sea lions - any time. Dolphin shows take place three to four times a day, I assume they let different animals participate each time. Check on the website or at the zoo entrance for the exact hours of the show.
The show is included in your entrance fee, no need for extra tickets. Just walk in and find a seat, even if a show has already started you can walk in. It is a small show - they had one dolphin and one sealion participating.
Some volunteers were picked from the audience who were allowed to feed and pat the sealion.

Fenja the sealion salutes the audience with a roar, while Nando plays bottlenose ball


The zoo has a special attraction for horse-lovers: the Westphalian Horse Museum. The region of Westphalia is a centre of horse-breeding with its own race of warmbloods (Westfalen) and the seat of the German Equestrian Federation in Warendorf, so horses are for sure a topic here. The museum presents the horse in biology, history, work and sports. Quite interesting.
Live horses are around on the outside, of course. No Westphalians, though. The shetland ponies are probably used for ponyriding for kids. Then they have a herd of giant Poitou donkeys (with a cuuuute woolly foal), Mongolian ponies and Przewalski horses. The horse park is combined with the kids’ zoo.



And if you are very lucky, you might even spot a young wombat grazing on the meadows by the lake...

Münster Part I: The Catholic Side of the City
Münster Part II: The Secular Side of the City https://germany-kathrin-e.travellerspoint.com/236/

Posted by Kathrin_E 04:36 Archived in Germany Tagged lakes zoo museum biking münster nordrhein-westfalen Comments (1)

Visiting Bielefeld - the City That Does Not Exist

"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".


"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.

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".


So maybe... it DOES exist?

"Churching Excursion" to Bielefeld

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.

St Jodokus


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.


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.


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.

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


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

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.

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.

A stall with tomatoes on the market

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

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

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...


The main shopping street is all new and nothing special.

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.

Last photo of the day


Posted by Kathrin_E 08:38 Archived in Germany Tagged churches münster nordrhein-westfalen bielefeld Comments (2)

Krefeld: Silk and Velvet and Modern Art

Krefeld – who would ever think of visiting? Krefeld is an industrial town on the edge of the Ruhr district, already on the left bank of the Rhine. A city without any sights worth mentioning, it seems. A city where even the local football club is named after a suburb not the city itself: KFC Uerdingen 05, currently playing in 3rd league.

However, this city has two remarkable Off the beaten path attractions. I had no idea that they existed, until we were taken there on an excursion during one of those conferences at the catholic academy in Münster. Surprise, surprise!

1. Silk and Velvet


Krefeld is Germany's most important centre of textile industry. Till the late 18th century the town was hardly more than a big village. Then the weaving of brocade, velvet, finest fabrics from gold threads, silk and wool caused a boom and rapid growth of the town.


Haus der Seidenkultur (House of Silk Culture - the name's a bit unlucky) is a newly opened museum on the premises of the former parament manufacture Hubert Gotzes. The manufacture produced mostly textiles for the catholic church. After they had to close down in the mid-1990s, former workers founded an association and turned the manufacture with its original old Jacquard looms into a museum.
All details important for visitors are on their website: http://www.seidenkultur.de


The manufacture produced silk and gold brocades, velvet, and other precious fabrics which were then used to tailor church paraments. The 100-year-old half-automatic looms are still there and in operation. The guided tours are done by retired weavers, patroneurs and other ex-employees who present all stages of the traditional craft of Jacquard weaving. The Jacquard loom is a mechanical, half-automatic loom that was invented by Joseph-Marie Jacquard in the early 19th century. The weaving of patterned fabric, which till then had required a second worker (usually a child) pulling the strings, became more efficient due to his invention.

They also make modern fashion accessoires from these fabrics that can be bought in a shop on site and also online. I got a tie for my father, in the "paradise pattern" described below, woven in different shades of silver and grey. It is truly elegant, and I have seen him wearing it on various formal occasions.

We are observing the formation of the so-called paradise pattern, a design that was used in 14th century Italy but actually originates from China. It shows pairs of eagles and swans, the sun and flower ornaments. The pattern was adopted by the manufacture and used for paraments.

Translating the pattern into weaving is a complicated procedure. First, the design is painted as a so-called Patrone, a design on chequered paper where each field corresponds with one crossing of threads. This work is the job of the Patroneur, a specialized profession.

The pattern is then transferred into cardboard punchcards. Each card equals one weft thread. The holes in the cards define which warp thread is lifted and which one stays low, i.e. if the weft will be above or underneath, to form the pattern.

Adjusting the warp on the loom for a complicated pattern like this is a job that requires several days before the weaver can actually start weaving.

This here is probably going to be a stola.

The catholic palette: The shelf contains yarn in the liturgical colours of the catholic church: red, green, violet, white/gold and black.

Gold brocade in stag pattern on the loom

2. Church of Pax Christi, Krefeld-Oppum: Art Collection In Suburbia


Krefeld's most astonishing collection of contemporary art, including lots of big names, is to be found... in a catholic parish church in the suburb of Oppum.

A plain and modest 1970s brick church in suburbia - who would expect a remarkable collection of late 20th century and contemporary art here, including many big names from Beuys to Uecker?


Pax Christi, the catholic parish church in Krefeld-Oppum, is a completely normal suburban parish with a community of ordinary people - and an energetic priest who is in touch with both artists and galleries and money sources. In the early 1980s he started his collection whichin 2008 consisted of 32 works of art. And counting, I suppose. These are of highest quality, from altar, crucifix and baptismal font to sculptures, reliefs, paintings and drawings.

Crucifix by Ewald Mataré (before 1939), altar by Ulrich Rückriem (1981)
An interesting effect is created by the lighting: the triple shadow of the cross recalls the three crosses of Golgatha.

Most of these works were bought by the community with the help of sponsors and are their property. People have learned to live with contemporary art, although to some of them this must have been difficult at first. The church, the baptismal chapel, and the adjacent rooms of the community centre as well as the garden behind the building are full of art works. Nevertheless the church is no museum, although it can be visited as one.
I can show but a selection of what they have, which includes some of the biggest names, but is also based on personal taste.

Joseph Beuys: Samurai sword (1982)

Felix Droese: Mother – Lenten Cloth (1981)

Klaus Rinke: Gate to Eternity (1990)
This was my favourite piece. The polished black granite of the „Gate to Eternity“ reflects the 'here and now'. Those are the participants of the excursion sitting in the chairs of the church, listening more or less attentive. The reflection somehow appears surreal, though. It looks as if the gate, despite being firmly closed, allows a glimpse of 'beyond'.

Altar in the baptismal chapel with
Jürgen Paatz: Untitled (round cloth, 1974)
Thomas Virnich: Cross stone (1993)

Barbara Heinisch: Easter (1980)

Chihiro Shimotani: X (Commandmend Boards, 1980)

Günther Uecker: Chichicastenango (1980)

Garden behind church and parish community centre, with Klaus Simon: Darkened over (1988)

Enrique Asensi: Untitled (Triptychon, 2000)

Magdalena Jetelová: Steep track (2005)
Stairway to heaven?

Posted by Kathrin_E 04:42 Archived in Germany Tagged churches art museum nordrhein-westfalen ruhrgebiet Comments (2)

(Entries 1 - 3 of 3) Page [1]