On the way to Berlin on the Mittelland Kanal we stopped in this historic city. Kids dove off the bridge until the sun set, then the moon took over.
Germany on our boat
Münster is another neat small city in the path taking us back to the Nederlands. The name comes from the Latin monasterium, a clue to it’s origins. Like the others it has quite a long history. It was in 793 that missionaries were sent by Charlemage to convert the people in the area. A monk named Ludger, called the Apostle of Saxony, founded a school during this period, which helped establish the city as an important center, as did its location on a ford and crossroad.
Anabaptists took power in 1534. Private property was abolished, all books aside from the Bible were burned. They called the city “New Jerusalem.” Its leader John of Leiden believed he would conquer the world and eliminate evil as preparation for the Second Coming. This unusual situation lasted about a year. The Anabaptists were tortured and killed. The corpses were placed in metal baskets. The baskets are still be suspended from St Lambert Church.
The University of Münster was established in 1780. It is now a major university with 40,000 students and curriculua in all the major fields. The city has major research facilities.
The Bishop of Münster, Cardinal Clemens August Graf von Galen, was a prominent critics of the Nazis. As a result Hitler placed many troops in the city. Five large barrack complexes remain.
The current Cathedral in Münster dates from 1265. The first church on the site was built in the 9th century and a second in the 10th or 11th, demolished to build the current structure. It was badly damaged in WWII. It was not restored to its state before the war. The rose window has been vastly simplified, for instance.
The city has a lively atmosphere. There are lots of shops and eateries. It is notable for its quality of life with its many parks and pedestrian zones. There is good transport, lots of bike lanes and in normal years there is much to do.
There is a Picasso Museum and several others. I’d say this city and the areas close by are worth a longer visit. I think I could find enough to see and do there to stay for a few weeks or maybe a month.
The Cathedral in Münster
The current Cathedral in Münster dates from 1265. The first church on the site was built in the 9th century and a second in the 10th or 11th, demolished to build the current structure.
It was badly damaged in WWII. It was not restored to its state before the war. The rose window has been vastly simplified, for instance.
Bremen has been attractive to human population since circa 12,000 BCE and remains so today, with some 750,000 people. It became an important trade center due in large part to its location on the River Wesser. Interestingly it was exempt from feudal laws once it gained city status, making it a beacon of freedom in the middle ages. Property was not subject to feudal ownership, and even serfs could own property if they resided in the city for a year and a day, at which point they were freed.
By 1350 the population reached 20,000. Over the next centuries the importance of the city made it a participant in the seemingly endless upheavals and reorganizations of German states. There is a detailed account of the comings and goings at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bremen, including the notation that the first German steamship was manufactured here in 1827.
There is a restaurant in the Rathaus featuring original decor and a huge exclusively German wine list. Included are a dozen of the oldest wines in the world in their original barrels. The building and the Roland statue are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
We visited just the old town. Less than half of its architectural wealth remains with us due to the ravages of the second war. Airplanes were manufactured here, accounting in part for it’s target status. There was a concentration camp as well. It was captured in late April 1945, becoming part of the American occupation zone, which city leaders preferred to the British.
The donkey, dog, cat and rooster of the Grimm Brothers fairy tale.
There are several impressive churches. St. Peter’s Cathedral is from the 13th century. There are sculptures of Moses, David, Peter and Paul. The Liebfrauenkirche is the oldest (11th c). Martinikirche (St Martin’s Church) is from 1229.
We walked through the Schnoor, a neighborhood with narrow streets and small houses from the 17th and 18th century
We just had a day here as we came by train, leaving the boat at a boat club in Osnabrucke. Brennen is worthy of a longer visit.
We set aside time to visit the Kunstehall Bremen, one of the best art museums around. From its website:
“The Kunsthalle houses the extensive and diverse collection of the Kunstverein in Bremen: with European painting from the Middle Ages to the present day, international modernism, sculptures from the 16th to the 21st century and outstanding works of media art, it spans an arc from the 14th century to the present day. The Kupferstichkabinett, with its more than 220,000 drawings and prints, is one of the most important graphic collections in Europe. In permanent and temporary exhibitions, you can take an exciting journey through art history when you visit the Kunsthalle.” https://www.kunsthalle-bremen.de/de/sammlung/kupferstichkabinett There is an English version of their website.
There is a rare Monet portrait, not his forte clearly but a good one nonetheless. I really liked the expressionist collection and its modern art in general. It includes Munch’s Child and Death. There are paintings and sculptures by Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, André Derain, Juan Gris and André Masson.
If I lived here I’d be a regular visitor. Top notch curation!
Burg Vischering is home to the Museum of the same name. It is a castle dating from the 13th century. It is one of the most interesting castles we have visited in part due to the excellent written narrative, as well the views afforded by the attractive moat and the good condition of the structure. My remarks mostly come from the information provided on the museum’s plaques.
The first written reference is 1271, when the Bishop of Münster entrusted it to Knight Albert von Wulfheim, who was to defend the castle to assure its availability for the bishop. The primary concern was the ambition of the Hermann and Bernhard von Lüdinghausen, who resided in the nearby castles Lüdinghausen and wanted the bishop’s castle; we visited the latter, exterior only, no entry.
The castle is built on an island in the River Stever. There is a circular wall containing a courtyard with a diameter of 35 meters. The Vischering family occupied the castle starting in the 14th century. There was a major fire in the castle 1521. The subsequent rebuilding of the castle increased the living space. A staircase turret was completed in 1620, a bay window in 1622.
The Münster region is known for its many moated castles. Nordkirchen Castle is the most famous castle in the area, but is much younger, built between 1703 and 1734. There are three castles in tiny Lüdinghausen, including this one.
Napoleon’s conquest completely transformed Germany. The prince-bishoprics, secular ruler combined with religious leader, were abolished. The Holy Roman Empire and the feudal system went by the wayside as well. You might think that the end of feudalism in Germany was rather late. However In Europe generally the feudal system lived on until 1861 when Russia finally gave it up.
During the WWII the mill was destroyed, while the castle sustained considerable damaged. The castle was restored shortly after the war’s end. The castle was occupied by a family until 1968.
The museum’s official website has a 3D presentation that gives you a good sense of what the exterior is like. https://burg-vischering.de/en/the-castle/
Steeple in Brandenburg, pen and ink
We passed through this lovely medieval town, mooring in town while we explored the area. It is my favorite German town!
Cove in Brandenburg, pen and ink
This pen and ink is of a cove in Brandenburg, off the River Havel. Brandeburg an der Havel, the full name of the city, is one of the most charming in Germany and rivals many in Europe.
Barge Clears Canal
An unattended barge on the Mitteland Kanal came loose from its moorings, blocking the canal. Behind us there was a barge who apparently had been contacted and asked to push the barge back to the dock. I videoed the process.
Entering a lock
I filmed this video as we were entering a lock on the Mittleland Kanal in Germany. I had to stop as we were close to docking as I need both hands and sometimes more to get us to the side of the lock where we can secure the boat for the ride up or down.
Pergamon: The Panorma
Pergamon Museum houses artifacts from Pergamon, an ancient Greek and later Roman city in what is now Turkey. In the 1880’s a German archaeologist came across workers breaking down marble columns and carvings to use as fuel. He made arrangements with the Ottomans to excavate the site and share the finds. The most fabulous find was the Pergamon Altar (180–160 BCE). It is a frieze depicting the Olympian gods fighting giants. This and other monumental and daily life aspects of Pergamon are the subject of a 50 meter high 360 ° panorama by Yadegar Asisi. The panorama can be viewed most dramatically from a five story staircase erected for the purpose. From the top the ceiling towers above and spreads out to near floor level.
As you view the various areas the sun moves overhead until night falls and the sun rises again.
The famous altar is visible but very difficult to photograph well, not that any of it was easy for non-professionals . The relief was vividly painted when first complete. They show it that way.
The altar is a scene of animal sacrifices and burning fires. People congregate for leisure activities or work. A slave market is on-going. The crowd murmurs in the background. Trajan is visiting.
Gary-Bob says check it out- even if there nothing else to see in Berlin, this alone would make the journey worthwhile.