Brace Yourself, Münster ­– Winter Is Coming!

Sometimes even the most devoted and enthusiastic scientist won’t cope with merely pacing up and down the lab, the library or the living room, slash, home office, slash, playground.
Usually, our WIRE fellows would’ve had the change for a first-hand snow-woman team building event during those lovely snowy days in Münster. As you know, due to Covid-19, we are all still spread around living rooms in Europe, convening in virtual conference rooms instead of conducting research locally in Münster.
Have you ever tried to start a snow ball fight in a virtual talk? (Don’t, btw!) Although we can’t substitute the real deal, you may get a glimpse what else the University of Münster has to offer – namely the City itself, actually…

Intrigued? We’ll take you on a tour, hop on!

What makes winter in Münster special? 

During the last couple of days, I asked people around me to respond to this question spontaneously.

The overwhelming majority immediately thought of the Christmas markets. Usually there are five of them not far from one another. They illuminate Münster’s old town with festive lights while the aroma of mulled wine and festive music fills the air. But this winter the Christmas markets were cancelled due to the current situation.

Another popular response was ice skating at the skating rink, visiting a museum or meeting friends in one of Münster’s leisurely cafes. Activities which we couldn’t enjoy this winter either.

Surprisingly enough, everyone also stated “staying at home”. Probably thinking about making themselves comfortable in their warm and cozy homes to escape the cold and wet weather – but let’s be honest, the last months were already all about staying at home. 

That’s why I was exceptionally excited when the news reached me that winter might make a comeback! And we got lucky! A couple of those typical rainy winter days we experience in Münster, turned into snow-filled days. 

Just to be clear, we are not talking about the usual 2cm of snow which turn into mud overnight and invite to jump in puddles rather than having a snowball fight. No, we are talking about an amount of snow we haven’t had during the last couple of years. A cold snap which no one expected after a rather warm winter, but it was also exactly what we needed after months of staying in. 

So, what made my winter in Münster special? 

“Tristan” did! Tristan? Yep, you heard me right! That’s the name which was given to the storm. Tristan brought back winter overnight. But not only that, Tristan allowed us to break out of the daily grind while slowing down everyday life. One morning we woke up just to find ourselves snowed in. Streets were not accessible; traffic came to a standstill – Time to bundle up and go for a walk to explore this beautiful city covered in a blanket of snow and make the most of it! 

First stop: Aasee

The Aasee is one of my favorite places all year around! It feels like the green lung of Münster. A place to relax and take a deep breath in the middle of the city – even more mesmerizing when covered in snow. 

Somewhere at the Aasee, Münster’s picturesque lake right in the city centre. © Sadina Kovac

The lake was artificially created to ensure Münster’s supply and circulation of fresh air. Today, it is not only a popular recreation area but also home to many different species.

The lake was frozen due to the temperatures which went down to -10 degrees Celsius. After digging out snow boots, ice skates or even cross-country skis, some entered the frozen surface while others preferred to remain at the safe shore.  

A walk underneath lime trees to the Schloss Münster

Right at the Aasee there is an easy access to the Promenade. The Promenade is a green belt which has been created where once the city walls stood. It leads right around the old town. The broad avenue is lined with lime trees and not accessible for cars. Therefore, it invites to a comfortable walk around Münster and is also a convenient way to get from one place to another by foot or bike. Well, usually it is. But even after a snowstorm Münster is living up to its reputation as a “bicycle capital”. A few were brave and skilled enough to conquer the snow with their bikes. No matter what the weather is like, here you’ll always find someone riding a bike!

After about 15 minutes of walking along the Promenade we reach another sight, the Schloss Münster. The palace holds the university administration and lecture halls. On the backside you can find the palace garden as well as the Botanical Garden.

The square right in front of the city palace is called Schlossplatz. At the moment it looks quite peaceful. But at other times of year, there are numerous events that take place on the square. The most popular event is a funfair, which does not only attract the citizens of Münster but also people from all around – the Send.

Entering old town

On our way to the St.-Paulus-Dom, we pass the Überwasserkirche – one of many churches in Münster. I actually tried to count them but I have to admit that I have failed. At a first glimpse, you might not expect how big Münster is. Münster is actually one of Germany’s biggest cities in the terms of area! There are 6 municipalities with 45 city districts and – you can probably guess it by now – a lot of churches. 

I narrowed it down to the churches in the old town: There are 15 of them! 

It is not without reason that Münster has been called “The Northern Rome” from early on. But even today, Münster’s skyline is known for being shaped by many church towers. 

Leaving the St.-Paulus-Dom behind us, we now enter the Prinzipalmarkt walking towards St. Lamberti. The Prinzipalmarkt is one of the most popular sights and plays an important role in the history of Münster. It is a historical marketplace laid out with old cobblestones and shaped by its characteristic gabled houses. Here you can find the historical town-hall with its Hall of Peace but also many shops, cafes and restaurants. 

As the day comes to an end…

… you might need something to warm you up!

One option is mulled wine – or “Glühwein” as we say in Germany. It is hot red wine with different spices such as cinnamon, cloves, anise and orange. It is a popular drink around Christmas time in Germany and closely linked to a visit of a Christmas market. But even without Christmas markets we did not have to do without Glühwein this winter. A lot of bars offered Glühwein, tea or hot chocolate “to go” to make your winter walk more pleasant.

The last destination of the day is the Dortmund-Ems-Kanal which is a bit further away from the old town but still within walking distance. It is worth a visit for those who enjoy walks by the water. You also might want to check out the port which is connected to the canal!

Glühwein to go while enjoying the sunset – Such a great way to complete a day of winter fun!

Hop off, or stay on as long as you like! 😉