Where the old city fortifications used to be, there is now a car-free “Promenade” that goes all around the city center of Münster (Westfalen). It consists of three paved paths, a wide path in the center for bicycles and two narrow paths on either side for pedestrians.
The trees along the Promenade are lime trees or linden trees of the type known officially by their Latin name tilia cordata, in German Winter-Linde or Stein-Linde. These trees were planted here towards the end of the 18th century, and where they are still intact they make the Promenade very attractive.
The total length of the Promenade is four and a half kilometers, and it is a practically uninterrupted circle. The only exception is that at one point near the palace there is a courthouse right in the way of where the Promenade ought to go, but you can just ride your bike around the courthouse to the right and you’re soon back on the Promenade again.
Sometimes they count the number of cyclists on the Promenade, and they have counted up to 1200 per hour.
The word Zwinger in German means a dungeon, for people, or a kennel, for dogs, or the outer wall of a fortress.
The Zwinger in Münster is a round building from the early 16th century which now looks quite picturesque when you ride by it on the Promenade, but under the Nazis it was used first as a meeting place for the Hitler Youth and later as a prison and execution site by the Gestapo.
Towards the end of the Second World War the Zwinger was damaged by bombs, but it has since been restored and is now maintained as a memorial for the victims of violence and oppression.
If you follow the Promenade around to its western side you come to the Palace, which was built from 1767 to 1787 as the Residence for the “Prince-Bishops” who ruled this region at the time. As I have mentioned elsewhere, these Prince-Bishops were both the secular and the religious rulers of their particular bailiwicks. Separation of Church and State was a concept whose time had not yet come (and would no doubt have horrified these rulers if they had ever heard of it).
Like everything else in Münster, the Palace was badly damaged by bombs during the Second World War. But it has since been rebuilt and now houses the administration of Münster University, known officially as the Westphalian Wilhelms University or WWU.
This side of the Promenade used to have big old 18th century linden trees just like the rest of it, until on January 18, 2007, a winter storm named “Kyrill” came through here and uprooted two hundred of the old trees in just a few minutes. In the autumn of the same year there was an initiative in which people planted new trees of the same sort. So after a few decades this part of the Promenade will again look just as nice as the rest of it, especially if they manage to get rid of the ugly parking lot in the background.
My photos in this post are from 2009. I revised the text in 2021.