Münster is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located in the northern part of the state and is considered to be the cultural centre of the Westphalia region and it is also capital of the government region Regierungsbezirk Münster. It is most well known as the location of the Anabaptist rebellion during the Protestant Reformation, as the site of the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia ending the Thirty Years' War in 1648 and as bicycle capital of Germany.
Münster gained the status of a Großstadt (major city) with more than 100,000 inhabitants in 1915. Currently there are around 270,000 people living in the city, with about 48.500 students of whom only a part are reflected by the official population statistics having their primary residence in Münster.
Münster's economy is mainly based on service companies and public administrations. Additionally, Münster is seat of eight universities and colleges as well as important courts such as the constitutional court and the higher administrative court for North Rhine-Westphalia.
Founded in 793 by Frisian Ludger, who gained episcopal consecration as the first bishop of the diocese Münster in 805. His successors held power over the largest clerical territory within the Holy Roman Empire until 1803.
Münster is situated at the river Aa, approximately 15 km south of its flowing into the river Ems, in the Westphalian Bight in a landscape embossed by dispersed settlements and farmyards, the so called "Münsterland". The Wolstonian sediments of the mountain ridge called "Münsterländer Kiessandzug" crosses the city in north south direction. The highest elevation is the "Mühlenberg" with 97 m above sea level in the northwest of Münster. The lowest elevation is at the Ems with 44 m above sea level. The city center lies at 60 m above sea level, measured at the Prinzipalmarkt in front of the historical city hall.
The Dutch city of Enschede is located approximately 65 km northwest of Münster. Other major cities in closer distance include Osnabrück, about 44 km in the north, Dortmund, about 61 km in the south, and Bielefeld, about 62 km in the east.
Münster is one of the 42 agglomeration areas and one of the biggest cities of Germany in terms of acreage. But this also includes larger, sparsely populated, agrarian areas of formerly independent and in 1975 amalgamated municipalities. Thus nearly half of the urban area is used by agriculture and resulting in a relatively small population density of approximately 900 inhabitants per km².
Moreover the city area covered with buildings is relatively large, because of smaller buildings compared with other cities of this size. This is a result of the high ratio of one-family houses and mansions. High-rise buildings exist only sporadicly, skyscrapers don't exist in Münster. Nevertheless the population density reaches about 15,000 inhabitants per km² in the city center. Calculating the population density based on the actual populated area results in approximately 2890 inhabitants per km².
The urban area of Münster of 302.91 km² is distributed into 57,54 km² covered with buildings, 0.99 km² are used for maintenance and 25.73 km² for traffic areas, 156.61 km² for agricultural and recreational purposes, 8.91km ² are covered with waterbodies, 56.69 km² is used by forests and 6,23 km² is used for other purposes. The perimeter has a length of 107 km, the largest extend of the urban area in north south direction is 24.4 km, in east west direction 20.6 km.
A well known saying in Münster is "Entweder es regnet oder es läuten die Glocken. Und wenn beides zusammen fällt, dann ist Sonntag" ("Either it rains or the church bells ring. And if both occurs at the same time, it's Sunday."), but in reality the rainfall with approximately 744 mm per year meets the rainfall average in Germany. The impression of Münster as a rain-laden city depends not on the absolute amount of rainfall but on the above-average number of rainy days with relatively little rainfall. The average temperature is 9.2 °C with approximately 1500 sun hours per year. In terms of this figure, Münster is in the bottom fifth in comparison with other German cities. The winter in Münster is fairly mild and snow is rare. The temperature during summertime meets the average in Germany.
Adjacent cities and districts
Münster borders on following cities and municipalities, named clockwise and beginning in the northwest: Altenberge
(District of Steinfurt
(District of Warendorf
), as well as Ascheberg
(District of Coesfeld
According to § 1 of the main constitution of Münster, the city is divided into six administrative districts (Stadtbezirke
). These are "Mitte" (Middle), "Nord" (North), "Ost" (East), "West", "Süd-Ost" (South-East) and "Hiltrup". Each district is represented by a council of 19 representatives elected every local election. At top of each council is the district mayor, in German called "Bezirksvorsteher". Further, every district is subdivided into living quarters ("Wohnbereiche"). This official term, however, isn't used in common speech, as there are no discrete definitions of the individual quarters. The term "Stadtteil" is used instead, mainly referring to the incorporated communities. For statistical purposes, the districts are divided into 45 statistical districts.
The following list names each district with its living and additional quarters according to the constitution. These are the official names, which partly differ from the use in common speech.
The center can be subdivided into the historical evoled city quarters, whose borders aren't always clearly defined. Among these quarters are Aaseestadt, Erphoviertel, Geistviertel, Hansaviertel, Herz-Jesu-Viertel, Kreuzviertel, Kuhviertel, Mauritzviertel, Pluggendorf, Rumphorst, Südviertel, Uppenberg, and the Zentrum Nord.
Münster has approximately 270,000 inhabitants and additionally more than 10,000 have their secondary residence in the city. About 9 % are resident aliens. The rate of unemployment was 6.3 % in December 2007. Of the approximately 130,000 employees subject to social insurance contribution more than 80 % work in the tertiary sector, about 17 % work in the secondary sector and 1 % work in the primary sector. The average age of Münster's residents was 40.0 years in 2006. The life-expectancy in Münster is 76.3 years for a male and 83.1 years for a female.
In 793 Charlemagne
sent out as missionary the Frisian Liudger
(later canonized) to convert the Saxons
with whom he had been battling, offering as headquarters his recently demolished Frankish stronghold of Mimigernaford
("ford over the Aa river"), at the crossroads of the road from Cologne
and the road to Frisia. Liudger was a product of Utrecht and the York school of Ethelbert
, which produced many of the clerics who served in Charlemagne's chancelry. He built his church and cloister on the right bank of the Aa, on the height called the Horsteberg
: it was the monastery ("monasterium") from which Münster derives its name. In 805 Liudger
travelled to Rome to be ordained the first bishop of Münster
, and soon founded a school (The Gymnasium Paulinum
is believed to have been founded as the monastery school in 797). The combination of ford and crossroad, marketplace, episcopal administration center, library and school, established Münster as an important center
In the Middle Ages Münster was a leading member of the Hanseatic League.
In 1534 the Anabaptists (specifically the Melchiorites), led by John of Leiden, took power in the Münster Rebellion and founded a democratic proto-socialistic state. They claimed all property, burned all books except the Bible, and called it the "New Jerusalem". John of Leiden believed he would lead the elect from Münster to capture the entire world and purify it of evil with the sword in preparation of Jesus's Second Coming and the beginnings of a New Age. However, the town was recaptured in 1535; the Anabaptists were tortured to death, their corpses were exhibited in cages, which can still be seen hanging on the Tower of St. Lamberti's steeple.
The signing of the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 at Münster and Osnabrück ended the Thirty Years' War and Eighty Years' War and was one of the foundations upon which modern Europe was built. It also guaranteed the future of the prince-bishop and the diocese; the area was to be exclusively Roman Catholic.
In 1780 the University of Münster (today called "Westphalian Wilhelms-University", WWU) was established, now a major European centre for excellence in education and research with large faculties in the arts, humanities, theology, sciences, business and law. Currently there are about 40,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled. In 1802 Münster was conquered by Prussia during the Napoleonic Wars. It became the capital of the Prussian province of Westphalia. A century later in 1899 the city's harbour started operations when the city was linked to the Dortmund-Ems Canal. With the spread of radio technology, in 1924 the radio and television organisation Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) was set up in Münster's harbour area.
World War II
During World War II
Münster was maintained as the headquarters (Hauptsitz) for the 6th Military District (Wehrkreis) of the German Wehrmacht, under the command of Infantry General (General der Infanterie) Gerhard Glokke
. Originally made up of Westphalia
and the Rhineland
, after the Battle of France
it was expanded to include the Eupen
district of Belgium
. The headquarters controlled military operations in Münster, Essen
, and Cologne
Münster was the home station for the VI
and XXIII Infantry Corps
(Armeekorps), as well as the XXXIII and LVI Panzerkorps
. Münster was also the home of the 6th
and 25th Panzer Division
; the 16th Panzergrenadier
Division; and the 6th
, and 716th
Infantry Divisions (Infanterie-division). Thanks to its military presence, Münster was a guaranteed Allied target. About 91% of the Old City and 63% of the entire city was destroyed by Allied air raids. In the 1950s the Old City was rebuilt to match its pre-war state, though many of the surrounding buildings were replaced with cheaper modern structures.
The Bishop of Münster in the 1940s was Cardinal Clemens August Graf von Galen
, one of the most prominent critics of the Nazi government. In retaliation for his success, Münster was heavily garrisoned during WWII and five large complexes of barracks are a still resented feature of the city.
From 1974 onward, the city was the residence of the American artist Moondog
, an eccentric individual who idolized postwar Germany. In 2003, Münster hosted the Central European Olympiad in Informatics
. In 2004, Münster won an honorable distinction: the LivCom-Award for the most livable city in the world with a population between 200,000 and 750,000. For more information about the honour, see the leaflet (.pdf)
and the 10-minute DivX
coded film: the 48mb-version
or the 87mb-version
from the official Münster-homepage.
- St. Paul's Cathedral, built in the 13th century in a mixture of late Romanesque and early Gothic styles. It has been completely restored after WWII damage. It includes an astronomical clock of 1540, adorned with hand-painted zodiac symbols, which traces the movement of the planets, and plays a Glockenspiel tune every noon.
- The Prinzipalmarkt, the marketplace in the city centre with the Gothic town hall (14th century) in which the Peace of Westphalia treaty which put an end to the Thirty Years' War was signed in 1648.
- St Lambert's Church (1375), with three cages hanging from its tower above the clock face. In 1535 these cages were used to display the corpses of Jan van Leiden and other leaders of the Münster Rebellion, who promoted polygamy and renunciation of all property.
- The Schloss (palace), built 1767-87 as residence for the prince-bishops by the Baroque architect Johann Conrad Schlaun and Wilhelm Ferdinand Lipper. Now the administrative centre for the University.
- "Münster Arkaden" (2006), new shopping centre between Prinzipalmarkt and the Pablo Picasso Museum of Graphic Art.
- The fortress "Zwinger", build 1528. Used from the 18th to the 20th century as a prison. During World War II, the Gestapo used the "Zwinger" also for executions.
- "Krameramtshaus" (1589), an old guild house, which housed the delegation from the Netherlands during the signing of the Peace of Westphalia.
- Signal-Iduna Building (1961), the first high-rise building in Münster.
- LVM-Building, high-rise building near the Aasee.
- LBS-Building, location of Münsters first zoo. Some old structures of the former zoo can be found in the park around the office building. Also the "Tuckesburg", the strange looking house of the zoo-founder, is still intact.
- "Cavete", the oldest academic pub in Münster
- Haus Rüschhaus (1743-49), a country estate situated in Nienberge, built by Johann Conrad Schlaun for himself
- Stadthaus (1773)
- Erbdrostenhof (1749-53), a Baroque palace, also built by Schlaun
- Clemenskirche (1745-53), a Baroque church
Scientific education and research
Münster is twinned with the following places:
- Muenster, Texas, USA
- York, United Kingdom
- Fresno, USA
- Orléans, France
- Kristiansand, Norway
- Monastir, Tunisia
- Rishon LeZion, Israel
- Ryazan, Russia
- Mühlhausen, Thuringia
- Lublin, Poland