The Promenade in Münster

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.

Zwinger by the Promenade

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.

The Palace in Münster (Westfalen)

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.

Cyclists on the Promenade by the newly re-planted linden trees

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.

See more posts on Münster (Westfalen), Germany.
For more on linden trees aka lime trees, see the comments
on my post Cycling in Toulouse, France.

10 thoughts on “The Promenade in Münster”

  1. This reminds me very much of the path along the top of the old city walls in Lucca which is similarly shared by cyclists and pedestrians and has some lovely old trees, although not in an avenue as here. I’m not a cyclist, as you know, but it looks a great place for a walk 🙂

  2. A hurricane in January? In Germany? I don’t think so. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone – it forms over tropical waters usually in the summer. Occasionally there are hurricanes which form in late November and go over into December but Kyrill was an extratropical cyclone which formed over Newfoundland.

    1. Thanks for the clarification. Kyrill was widely referred to as a hurricane at the time, but I think that might have been a mis-translation of the German word “Orkan”, which means a very violent storm. I’ll change the text accordingly.

      1. When I looked Kyrill up, that was basically what it said – that it was called a hurricane locally because there were hurricane force winds.

        For non-hurricane storms over here they are named Winter Storms. I think they should stop naming storms – eventually they will run out of names and end up calling the storms “Moon Unit” or “Mona Lisa” or something.

        When we started sailing, I decided that the only important news was the weather, and I still think that is true.

        I loved your description of the Promenade and I wish I could have cycled it.

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