Münster: the youthful charm of a historical city.

This is a cosmopolitan city, youthful, laid-back and proud of a history going back more than 1,200 years. Whether as a bishop's seat, a member of the Hanseatic League or a university city – Münster has always played an important role in the region and far beyond. The city earned its place in the annals of world history when the Treaty of Westphalia was signed there.

Is this Germany's most beautiful city? Many people would certainly say yes. What's more, the city has won an award for having the best quality of life in the world. Münster is a place that keeps its history very much alive – and its houses, churches and squares can tell plenty of stories about the past. This is particularly true in the historical city centre, for example Prinzipalmarkt. This square is surrounded by 48 gabled buildings, including the distinctive town hall and the municipal wine house, joined together by an arcade to create a delightful backdrop. Nowadays, Prinzipalmarkt is also a delight for shoppers. Nearby Salzstrasse, Münster's oldest mercantile street, has a number of attractions to explore – most notably the baroque treasures of Erbdrostenhof Palace, the Dominican Church and the Church of St. Clement's with its beautiful baroque garden. Not far beyond that is the Ludgeri quarter with its restaurants, pubs and cafés. A few steps further and you will reach the prestigious Rothenburg, where the Picasso Museum has found a magnificent home in the Druffel'schen Hof. From there it's not far to the cathedral square, where the mighty Cathedral of St. Paul's with its treasury and the Westphalian State Museum of Art and Art History can be found. Other fascinating places of interest in Münster's old town are the Kiepenkerl and Kuhviertel districts. This area, around the Church across the Water, is perhaps the most historical part of old Münster. It combines local history and local highlife in a maze of quaint alleys.

A detour to the Kreativkai waterfront, Münster's top night spot by the city docks, is highly recommended and not just on balmy summer evenings. Here among the old dockland buildings and their sparkling new counterparts, you can discover an exciting mixture of art and culture, cafés, restaurants and trendy clubs virtually around the clock, in a stylish riverside setting. This area is also where you will find the AZKM – Münster's contemporary art exhibition hall – which opened in 2004. It regularly puts on individual and group exhibitions by contemporary artists of national and international standing as well as displays of works by both established names and promising newcomers. Somewhat older, the independent artist community Schanze (founded in 1919) has long played a key role in Münster's cultural scene owing to the many exhibitions it arranges. And going back even further, we reach a very significant date in European history: 24 October 1648, the day on which the Peace of Westphalia officially ended the Thirty Years' War. Although Münster will forever be associated with this event, the city is also firmly rooted in the here and now. This is evident from the proliferation of the locals' favourite mode of transport: the bicycle. As many as 100,000 people cycle in the city every day, and there are two bicycles for every resident. Even the police pedal their way to crime scenes, while the 'bike station' at the main train station can accommodate 3,500 cycles, making it Germany's largest bike parking facility. So anyone who wants to discover the real Münster should get on their bike! Finally, you should know that the bicycle is often referred to as a Leeze here. Now you are all set for a perfect visit to a perfect city and you can decide for yourself whether Münster is Germany's most beautiful city.


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