As you read this, I’m actually in Bath!
Not the object of your morning ritual!
More about that next week. For now though, the medieval town of Osnabrück!
When I told The Music Producer that I was going to write about his home-town, he was chuffed and extremely pleased. My hubby is a lovely fellow and so is his hometown, so here we go.
OSNABRÜCK or in English OSNABRUECK
I love going to Osnabrück. It’s a quaint town, enveloped in medieval history, quite German-like in nature, pretty to look at, and once known as the happiest place in Germany! What not to like!
Osnabrück is a city in the Federal State of Lower-Saxony in North-West Germany.
Even though Osnabrück is regionally based in the region of Lower Saxony, historically, culturally and linguistically, Osnabrück is said to be a part of Westphalia. Osnabrück is situated in a valley penned between the Wiehen Hills and the northern tip of the Teutoburg Forest, has a population of 158,000 people, is the third (3rd) largest city in that State and the only German city situated in a nature reserve that is a 1,220 square kilometer, UNESCO Nature and Geo Park TERRA.vita!
THE HISTORY OF OSNABRÜCK
The history of Osnabrück began in 780, when Charlemagne – King of the Franks, erected a stone church on the banks of the Hase River – the nucleus of today’s Osnabrück.
The city’s name is presumably a combination of the German words “Ossen” (ox) and “Brügge” (bridge). In 1002, the Bishop of Osnabrück was granted a charter to hold a market, mint coins, and collect customs dues.
Slightly before 803, the city became the seat of the Prince-Diocese of Osnabrück which is believed to make the city the oldest diocese in Lower Saxony! As an old trading route hub and as the seat of a bishop, Osnabrück developed into a thriving center for commerce in the Middle Ages. In 1157, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa granted the city its fortification privileges.
Most of the towers that were part of the medieval fortification are still visible in the city and are a rather interesting, energetic photographic walk!
From 1412 to 1669, Osnabrück became an influential member of the “Hanse” or Hanseatic League, which was the most important trading alliance of its time and brought great stature and wealth to its member cities. Magnificent town houses and other prestigious buildings reflected the power and wealth of the medieval merchants.
Osnabrück also became hugely important during the negotiations for the Peace of Westphalia that took place here as well as in Münster between 1643 – 1648. In fact, it was this treaty in October 1648, that finally ended the Thirty Years’ War and changed the face of Europe forever. To commemorate this event, the treaty is annually recreated by local children with a hobby-horse parade! Osnabrück also adopted the official title of Friedensstadt known as the “city of peace.”
While the Catholics used Münster as a venue, the Protestants resided in Osnabrück. As a result, Osnabrück was alternately peacefully ruled by both Catholic and Protestant bishops, until 1803!
In contemporary times, the old trade routes have been turned into pleasant streets and the mixture of historic quarters and modern architecture is the hallmark of Osnabrück today, not only as a university city, but also a cultural and commercial trading centre in industries such as automobile, paper, steel and perishables.
Due to it’s industrial importance, Osnabrück was heavily damaged during WWII although the Old Town, had it’s medieval architecture reconstructed.
It’s just so lovely that the locals still come together in places where merchants used to meet in the old market place, also known as the “Markt.” You can regularly find either the farmers’ market, local festivals, or the native German Christmas Market right there and we’ve always enjoyed either having an organic grilled sausage of some sort or organic home-made cheese. Don’t even get me started on their historic craft beer and fine German wine!
Osnabrück’s picturesque flair is formed by the Town Hall, the various churches, the Romanesque St Peter’s Cathedral and the high gables of the old merchant houses.
Osnabrück is surrounded by charming countryside and around 2,300 km of long distance and circular footpaths in a romantic landscape, and 1,500 km of bike paths. The ridges of the Teutoburg Forest and the Wiehen Hills shape Osnabrück’s surroundings, and most of the region is part of the UNESCO nature reserve Geo Park TERRA.vita, a European network of nature parks.
Now when I first met my husband, I actually thought he was Danish as his English was incredibly good, with a slight North American tilt! Hardly any wonder when Osnabrück used to be home to the largest British garrison (outside of the UK), in the world!
WHAT TO DO IN OSNABRÜCK
- Osnabrück is a really sweet place and so we tend to go for the May Week Festival locally known as Mai Woche. Mai Woche is a bit like dancing round the May Day pole in England and is a unique festival with ten (10) days of music, comedy and open-air shows and entertainment. This takes place annually during the second (2nd) week in May.
- Visit the picturesque Market Square and the wander through the weekly Farmer’s Market.
- Visit the historical Town Hall and engross yourself in the history of Osnabrück, with the help of the Town Hall museum.
- Get out and cycle or bring your own bike! Osnabrück has ten (10) attractive cycling tours, four (4) long distance bike trails and a total of 2,500 kilometers marked routes.
- Drink wine! Osnabrück always has local wine tasting sessions in the Old Town. And why not, it’s Germany after all!
- Eat chocolate! I don’t like chocolate but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t indulge in one of Germany’s oldest family owned chocolate shop. The 106 year old Leysieffer is a confectionery that is famous world-wide for it’s hand-made chocolate truffles and chocolate bars, with exotic flavours such as chili peppers or sea salt!
- For one night only. Experience the cultural diversity of outstanding cultural entertainment in Osnabrück. On the last Saturday in August. At night!
- Check out the traditional and historical Christmas Market from the end of November to December 22nd.
- Visit the “Dom St. Peter” also known as St. Peter’s Cathedral which has been a place of worship for more than 1,225 years!
- Visit other churches!
- Make it a point of duty to get to grips with the Felix Nussbaum Museum which houses the impressive life collection of Felix Nussbaum as a German-Jewish surrealist painter, in a desperate state of living, in Holocaust Europe.
- If you aren’t short on time, visit other museums such as the Museum of Cultural History or the Museum of Industrial Culture. I guess you can see a running theme here, I like museums LOL!
- Discover Osnabrück’s history with the Romans!
- Eat a variety of delicious rustic German food such as asparagus – Spargel – green cabbage – Grünkohl – served with cured and slightly smoked thick cuts of pork – Kasseler – or a traditional blood sausage made out of pig’s blood, pig offal and buckwheat stuffed in a pig intestine flavored with onions, black pepper, and marjoram – Grützwurst!
- Go high-brow and dine at Osnabrück’s most famous three (3) Michelin star exquisite La Vie restaurant and don’t forget to make a reservation!
- Have a bite and a rest at Walhalla – Osnabrück’s oldest inn built in 1690!
- Drink litres of German beer in large beer steins and glasses at the merchant-friendly Rampendahl brewery re-collected in historical books as far back as 1177! Go upstairs for a better view and don’t forget that you can even go on a tour of the brewery itself!
- Go shopping and really stroll around into nooks and crannies and cobble-stoned streets!
- Track down dinosaurs!
- Go to as many monasteries as you can muster.
- Take a walk down memory lane and go to the most exquisite Old Town in Osnabrück. Think taverns bustling with merchants. Think black and white half-timbered houses and Romanesque vault buildings and monuments from the 13th century. Think knights , ladies and serfs, from the Middle Ages!
- Visit one of the earliest baroque palaces in Germany built in 1668 with it’s stylish palace gardens, palace´s terrace, palace statues and palace fountains. Now a part of the University of Osnabrück but open to the general public and quite enchanting!
- Visit the various castles in Osnabrück.
- Go to the spa town of Bad Rothenfelde where my husband’s father grew up. It has a spa garden and the famous Saline Rothenfelde salt works. The water is warm and you can really taste the salt!
- If you’ve got a couple of days, you could get yourself the Osnabrück City Card. It allows you access to every bus within the city, free admission to six museums in Osnabrück, plus a voucher booklet for other interesting cultural activities. Prices for 24 hours are €8.00 per person (adults & children 14 and above), €11.00 for a family (two adults with a maximum of two children up to the age of 14). Tickets for 48 hours are €11.00 per person or €16.00 per family. Valid for any two days within a period of three months.
HOW TO GET TO OSNABRÜCK
- By train: The train station that you would need to get to is Osnabrück Hbf (Main Train Station) via Germany’s Deutsche Bahn. It’s about four (4) hours from Berlin.
- By plane: The nearest airport is the Münster/Osnabrück International Airport. It’s about 30 minutes from Osnabrück and has an airport express bus that operates regularly.
- By bus: Many coach/bus companies also travel to Osnabrück and within Osnabrück itself, the public transport network is highly efficient throughout the day and night!
- By car: You can reach Osnabrück via the motorways A30 Amsterdam – Bad Oeynhausen, A33 Diepholz – Bielefeld and A1 Hamburg – Dortmund.
I might be biased but I really like Osnabruck as the German traditions are still very much sought after for example, my husband told me that there is an ancient custom that unmarried men who are 30 years old must sweep the streets in front of the town hall or have their houses covered with paper and plastic, until they are kissed by a virgin. As punishment!
Go see for yourself!
Next week, I’ll be writing about the wonderful time that I had in Bristol.
Get out your brolly and put on your wellies!
See you next week.
This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my very own!
Would you go to a medieval town? Have you ever been to Germany? Isn’t my husband cute?
See you in Berlin.