Main Births etc
Aerial view of Münster
Country Germany
State North Rhine-Westphalia
Admin. region Münster Region
District Urban district
Founded 793
First mentioned
Subdivisions 6
 • Lord Mayor Markus Lewe (CDU)
 • Governing parties CDU
 • Total 302.89 km2 (116.95 sq mi)
Elevation 60 m (200 ft)
Population (2010-12-31)[1]
 • Total 279,803
 • Density 920/km2 (2,400/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 48143–48167
Dialling codes 0251
 02501 (Hiltrup, Amelsbüren)
 02506 (Wolbeck, Angelmodde)
 02533 (Nienberge)
 02534 (Roxel)
 02536 (Albachten)
Vehicle registration MS

Münster (German pronunciation: [ˈmʏnstɐ]; Low German: Mönster; Latin: Monasterium, from the Greek μοναστήριον - monastērion, "monastery") is an independent city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is in the northern part of the state and is considered to be the cultural centre of the Westphalia region. It is also capital of the local government region Münsterland. Münster was the location of the Anabaptist rebellion during the Protestant Reformation and the site of the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia ending the Thirty Years' War in 1648. Today it is known as the bicycle capital of Germany.

Münster gained the status of a Großstadt (major city) with more than 100,000 inhabitants in 1915.[2] Currently there are around 270,000 people living in the city, with about 48,500 students, only some of whom are recorded in the official population statistics as having their primary residence in Münster.


Early history[]

In 793, Charlemagne sent out Ludger as a missionary to evangelise the Münsterland.[3] In 797, Ludger founded a school that later became the Cathedral School.[3] Gymnasium Paulinum traces its history back to the school [3] He was ordained as the first bishop of Münster.[3] The first cathedral was completed by 850.[3] The combination of ford and crossroad, market place, episcopal administrative centre, library and school, established Münster as an important centre.[4] In 1040, Heinrich III became the first king of Germany to visit Münster.[3]

Middle Ages and early modern period[]

In the Middle Ages Münster was a leading member of the Hanseatic League.[3]

View from the south-west of Münster in 1570 as seen by Remius Hogenberg. On the left is the Überwasserkirche, in the centre is St. Pauls Cathedral and to its right St. Lambert's Church, and on the far right is the Ludgerikirche
View from the south-west of Münster in 1570 as seen by Remius Hogenberg. On the left is the Überwasserkirche, in the centre is St. Pauls Cathedral and to its right St. Lambert's Church, and on the far right is the Ludgerikirche

In 1534, the Anabaptists 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 for the Second Coming of Christ and the beginning of the Millennium. They went so far as to require all citizens to be naked as preparation for the Second Coming. 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. Lambert's steeple.[3]

Part of the signing of the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 was held in Münster.[5] This ended the Thirty Years' War and the Eighty Years' War.[5] It also guaranteed the future of the prince-bishop and the diocese; the area was to be exclusively Roman Catholic.

18th, 19th and early 20th centuries[]

Photo of the Prinzipalmarkt in 1900.

The last outstanding palace of the German baroque period was created according to plans by Johann Conrad Schlaun.[3] 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.

World War II[]

Photo of part of the Prinzipalmarkt area around St. Lambert's church in 1945.

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 (The New York Times described Bishop von Galen as "the most obstinate opponent of the National Socialist anti-Christian program[6]), Münster was heavily garrisoned during World War II and five large complexes of barracks are a still resented feature of the city. Münster was 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 - Malmedy district of Belgium. The headquarters controlled military operations in Münster, Essen, Düsseldorf, Wuppertal, Bielefeld, Coesfeld, Paderborn, Herford, Minden, Detmold, Lingen, Osnabrück, Recklinghausen, Gelsenkirchen, 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, 16th and 25th Panzer Division; the 16th Panzergrenadier Division; and the 6th, 26th, 69th, 86th, 106th, 126th, 196th, 199th, 211th, 227th, 253rd, 254th, 264th, 306th, 326th, 329th, 336th, 371st, 385th, and 716th Infantry Divisions (Infanterie-division).

A secondary target of the Oil Campaign of World War II, Münster was bombed on October 25, 1944 by 34 diverted B-24 Liberators during a mission to a nearby primary target, the Scholven/Buer synthetic oil plant at Gelsenkirchen. About 91% of the Old City and 63% of the entire city was destroyed by Allied air raids.[7] The US 17th Airborne Division, employed in a standard infantry role and not in a parachute capacity, attacked Münster with the British 6th Guards Tank Brigade on 2 April 1945 in a ground assault and fought its way into the contested city centre, which was cleared in urban combat on the following day.[8]

Postwar period[]

From 1946 to 1998, a Latvian gymnasium (school) was operating in Münster,[9] and in 1947, one of the largest of about 93 Latvian libraries in the West was established in Münster.[10]

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. It was also for several decades a garrison town for the British forces stationed in West Germany.

Prinzipalmarkt, 2005.


In 2003, Münster hosted the Central European Olympiad in Informatics. In 2004, Münster won an honourable distinction: the LivCom-Award for the most livable city in the world with a population between 200,000 and 750,000.[11] Münster is famous and liked for its bicycle friendliness and for the student character of the city that is due to the influence of its university, the Westfälische Wilhelms Universität Münster.[12][13]


Geographic position[]

Gerard ter Borch: Dutch envoy Adriaan Pauw enters Münster around 1646 for the peace negotiations resulting in the Peace of Westphalia (Stadtmuseum Münster)

Münster is situated on the river Aa, approximately 15 km south of its confluence with the Ems in the Westphalian Bight, a landscape studded with dispersed settlements and farms, the so-called "Münsterland". The Wolstonian sediments of the mountain ridge called "Münsterländer Kiessandzug" cross the city from north to south. The highest elevation is the Mühlenberg in the northwest of Münster, 97 metres above sea level. The lowest elevation is at the Ems with 44 m above sea level. The city centre is 60 m above sea level, measured at the Prinzipalmarkt in front of the historic city hall.

The Dutch city of Enschede is about 65 km northwest of Münster. Other major cities nearby include Osnabrück, about 44 km to the north, Dortmund, about 61 km to the south, and Bielefeld, about 62 km to the east.

Münster is one of the 42 agglomeration areas and one of Germany's biggest cities in terms of acreage. But this includes substantial sparsely populated, agrarian districts which were formerly separate local government areas until amalgamated in 1975. Thus nearly half the city's area is agricultural, resulting in a low population density of approximately 900 inhabitants per km².

Signal-Iduna-Building, Servatiiplatz

Bronze model of Münster's city centre

Münster's lake

Population density[]

The city's built-over area appears extensive. There are no skyscrapers and only a few high-rise buildings but very many one-family houses and mansions. Still the population density reaches about 15,000 inhabitants per km² in the city centre.[14] Calculating the population density based on the actual populated area results in approximately 2890 inhabitants per km².[15] Münster's urban area of 302.91 km² is distributed into 57,54 km² covered with buildings while 0.99 km² are used for maintenance and 25.73 km² for traffic areas, 156.61 km² for agriculture and recreation, 8.91 km² are covered by water, 56.69 km² is forested and 6,23 km² is used otherwise.[16] 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.[17]


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 occur at the same time, it's Sunday."), but in reality the rainfall with approximately 758 mm per year is close to the average rainfall in Germany.[18] The perception of Münster as a rain-laden city isn't caused by the absolute amount of rainfall but by the above-average number of rainy days with relatively small amounts of rainfall. The average temperature is 9.4 °C with approximately 1500 sun hours per year.[18] Consequently Münster is in the bottom fifth in comparison with other German cities. The winter in Münster is fairly mild and snowfall is unusual. The temperature during summertime meets the average in Germany.

Climate data for Münster
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 3
Average low °C (°F) −2
Precipitation mm (inches) 65
Source: [18][19]

Adjacent cities and districts[]

Münster borders on the following cities and municipalities, named clockwise and beginning in the northwest: Altenberge and Greven (District of Steinfurt), Telgte, Everswinkel, Sendenhorst and Drensteinfurt (District of Warendorf), as well as Ascheberg, Senden and Havixbeck (District of Coesfeld).

City boroughs[]

Subdivision of Münster into its administrative districts – the darker parts represent the built-up areas of the city

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 at each local election. Heading each council is the district mayor, or Bezirksvorsteher. Further, every district is subdivided into residential quarters (Wohnbereiche). This official term, however, is not 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. The districts are also divided into 45 statistical districts.

The following list names each district with its residential and additional quarters according to the constitution. These are the official names, which partly differ from the usage in common speech.[20]

Bicycle parking station, located at the Hauptbahnhof

Market Square Münster, Centre

LVA (State Social Insurance Board) Münster-Nord

  • Mitte:
    • Kernbereich (Centre)
  • Nord:
    • Coerde
    • Kinderhaus
    • Sprakel with Sandrup
  • Ost:
    • Dyckburg, consisting of Mariendorf and Sudmühle
    • Gelmer with Gittrup
    • Handorf with Kasewinkel, Kreuzbach, Laer, Dorbaum and Verth on the left bank of the Ems and Werse
    • Mauritz-Ost and Mondstraße, combined better known as St. Mauritz
  • West:
    • Albachten
    • Gievenbeck
    • Mecklenbeck
    • Nienberge with Häger, Schönebeck and Uhlenbrock
    • Roxel with Altenroxel and Oberort
    • Sentruper Höhe
  • Süd-Ost:
    • Angelmodde with Hofkamp
    • Gremmendorf with Loddenheide
    • Wolbeck
  • Hiltrup:
    • Amelsbüren with Sudhoff, Loevelingloh and Wilbrenning
    • Berg Fidel
    • Hiltrup

The centre can be subdivided into historically evolved city districts whose borders are not always strictly defined, such as

  • Aaseestadt
  • Erphoviertel
  • Geistviertel`
  • Hansaviertel
  • Herz-Jesu-Viertel
  • Kreuzviertel
  • Kuhviertel
  • Mauritzviertel
  • Pluggendorf
  • Rumphorst
  • Südviertel
  • Uppenberg
  • Zentrum Nord


Münster has approximately 270,000 inhabitants, and in addition more than 10,000 have their secondary residence in the city. The city has about 50,000 resident aliens.[21] The life-expectancy in Münster is 76.3 years for males and 83.1 years for females. The average age of Münster's residents was 40.0 years in 2006.[22]


The makeup of the City Council[]

Party Percentage Seats Source
Christian Democratic Union 39,20% 31 [23]
Social Democratic Party 25.00% 20
Green Party 19.36% 16
Free Democratic Party 8.97% 7
The Left 3.37% 3
UWG-MS 1.68% 1
Pirate Party 1.55% 1
Ecological Democratic Party 0.86% 1


The city is considered the "creative desk of Westphalia".[24] Greater Münster is home to many industries such as those of public authorities, consulting companies, insurance companies, banks, computer centres, publishing houses, advertising and design.[24] The service sector has created several thousand jobs.[24] Retailers have approximately 1.9 billion euros turnover.[24] The city still has traditional merchants’ townhouses as well as modern outlets.[24]

The job market situation in Münster is "comparatively good".[25] 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.[26]

Main sights[]

Main administration building of WWU.

Botanic Garden


Erbdrostenhof Palace, birthplace of Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart.

Town Museum Münster

  • 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 World War II 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 main shopping street 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 in 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.
  • The Botanischer Garten Münster, a botanical garden founded in 1803.
  • The fortress "Zwinger", built in 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.
  • Stadthaus (1773)
  • Haus Rüschhaus (1743–49), a country estate situated in Nienberge, built by Johann Conrad Schlaun for himself
  • Erbdrostenhof (1749–53), a Baroque palace, also built by Schlaun, residence of Droste zu Vischering noble family and birthplace of Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart.
  • Clemenskirche (1745–53), a Baroque church, also built by Schlaun
  • Signal-Iduna Building (1961), the first high-rise building in Münster.
  • LVM-Building, high-rise building near the Aasee.
  • LBS-Building, location of Münster's 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.
  • "Münster Arkaden" (2006), new shopping centre between Prinzipalmarkt and the Pablo Picasso Museum of Graphic Art.
  • "Cavete", the oldest academic pub in Münster
  • Westphalian State Museum of Art and Cultural History
  • University Bible museum
  • Town Museum ("Stadtmuseum"), exhibition of a large collection showing the political and cultural history of the city from its beginning up to present, housed by a converted former department store
  • University Mineralogical Museum
  • Westphalian Horse Museum ("Hippomax")
  • Mühlenhof open-air museum, depicting a typical Westphalian village as it looked centuries ago
  • Westphalian Museum for Natural History, state museum and planetarium
  • West Prussian State Museum ("Drostenhof Wolbeck")
  • Museum of Lacquer Art (founded and operated by the company BASF Coatings)
  • Pablo Picasso Museum of Graphic Art, the only museum devoted exclusively to the graphic works of Pablo Picasso
  • Pinkus Müller the only brewery left in Münster of original more than 150.


Münster is home to many institutions of higher education, including the University of Münster and University of Applied Sciences. The city also has 92 Schools of primary and secondary education. The city has 47,000 students.[27]


"Promenade" in summer


Münster claims to be the bicycle capital of Germany.[28] It states that in 2007, vehicle traffic (36.4%) fell below traffic by bicycle (37.6%),[29] even though it is unclear how such a figure is defined (share of trips?, share of distance travelled? share of people transported?). The city maintains an extensive network for bicycles including the popular avenue "Promenade" which encircles Münster's centre borough. While motorized vehicles are banned, there are byways for pedestrians. Additional bicycle paths link all city districts with the inner city and special traffic lights provide signals for bicyclists.[29] Bicycle stations in Münster offer bicycle rentals.[29]


Münster's Hauptbahnhof is on the Wanne-Eickel–Hamburg railway. The city is connected by Intercity trains to all other German major cities.


The city is home to Preußen Münster which was founded on 30 April 1906. The main section is football and the team plays at Preußenstadion.

British forces[]

After the Second World War, Münster became a major base for British Forces in Germany. In the meantime the presence has successively been reduced, yet there are still many barracks, see main article British Forces Germany.

International relations[]

Twin towns – Sister cities[]

Münster is twinned with the following places:[30]

Notable residents[]

  • Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, noble and one of the most important German poets
  • Maria Droste zu Vischering, noble and nun beatified by Pope Paul VI.
  • Georges Depping, German-French historian.
  • Alfred Dregger, politician and leader of the Christian Democratic Union .
  • Alfred Flechtheim, art dealer, art collector, journalist, and publisher.
  • Gunther Plaut, Reform rabbi and author.


See also[]

  • Munster Province, Republic Of Ireland
  • CeNTech
  • Fernmeldeturm
  • Muenster, Texas (USA)
  • Neaera
  • Long Distance Calling


  1. ^ "Amtliche Bevölkerungszahlen" (in German). Landesbetrieb Information und Technik NRW. 31 December 2010. 
  2. ^ "1900 to 1945". City of Münster. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "793 to 1800". City of Münster. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  4. ^ " - Vita des heiligen Liudgers - Die Anfänge des Bistums Mü nster:". Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  5. ^ a b "A foray into town history". City of Münster. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  6. ^ "30Days - The Lion of Münster and Pius XII". Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  7. ^ Latest activity 16 minutes ago. "The Munster Raid: Before and After (9780917678493): Ian L. Hawkins: Books". Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  8. ^ Stanton, Shelby, World War II Order of Battle: An Encyclopedic Reference to U.S. Army Ground Forces from Battalion through Division, 1939-1946, Stackpole Books (Revised Edition 2006), p. 97
  9. ^ Ebdene, Aija (9 February 2005). "Greetings to all users of the Guide worldwide from the Latvian Community in Germany (LKV)" (PDF). A Guide for Latvians Abroad. LKV. Retrieved 8 November 2010. 
  10. ^ Smith, Inese; Štrāle, Aina (July 2006). "Witnessing and Preserving Latvian Culture in Exile: Latvian Libraries in the West". Library History, Volume 22, Number 2 - pp. 123-135(13). Maney Publishing. Retrieved 8 November 2010. 
  11. ^ "LivCom website, page for 2004 awards.". Retrieved January 27, 2010. 
  12. ^ leaflet
  13. ^ 10-minute DivX coded film: the 48mb-version or the 87mb-version from the official Münster-homepage.
  14. ^ Stadt Münster – Amt für Stadtentwicklung, Stadtplanung, Verkehrsplanung: Map of population density in the statistical areas, page 2
  15. ^ Regional statistics for NRW of Landesamt für Datenverarbeitung und Statistik Nordrhein-Westfalen
  16. ^ Statistics for 2006 of the city of Münster, Seite 18
  17. ^ Münster from A–Z; Information by Münster Marketing
  18. ^ a b c "Monthly average temperatures, rainfall, and sunshine for Münster, DE.". Retrieved January 27, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Monthly High/Lows for Münster, Germany.". Retrieved January 27, 2010. 
  20. ^ Main constituation of the city of Münster of December 21, 1995 – p. 13f.
  21. ^ "Learning German – without forgetting your native language". Münster. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  22. ^ Statistics for 2006 of the city of Münster, page 54
  23. ^ "Parteien im Rat". City of Münster. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  24. ^ a b c d e "Economic location". City of Münster. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  25. ^ "Job market". City of Münster. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  26. ^ Statistics for 2006 of the city of Münster, page 95
  27. ^ "Ten times Münster - in brief". City of Münster. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  28. ^ "Bicycling Münster". Münster Marketing. Retrieved 8 April 2011. 
  29. ^ a b c "Bicycles". Münster. Retrieved 8 April 2011. 
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Portrait of Münster: Die Partnerstädte". Stadt Münster. Archived from the original on 2013-05-09. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  31. ^ "Enquiry Y4537: - City of York Council". City of York Council. 30 January 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  32. ^ "Miasta Partnerskie Lublina [Lublin - Partnership Cities]" (in Polish). Urząd Miasta Lublin [City of Lublin]. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 

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