Munster's Religious Buildings Tour, Munster

Munster's Religious Buildings Tour (Self Guided), Munster

Münster is a wonderful place for those who are interested in religious architecture. The old town district features many beautiful Gothic, Romanesque, Classicism, and Baroque-style churches. Follow this self-guided walking tour to explore the Westphalian religious heritage.
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Munster's Religious Buildings Tour Map

Guide Name: Munster's Religious Buildings Tour
Guide Location: Germany » Munster (See other walking tours in Munster)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Author: Xena
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • St. Paulus Dom (Munster Cathedral)
  • Lambertikirche (St. Lamberti Church)
  • Apostelkirche (Apostle Church)
  • St. Martini Church
  • St. Johannes Kapelle (St. John's Chapel)
  • Observantenkirche (Observant Church)
  • Überwasserkirche (Overwater Church)
  • St. Petri Church
  • St. Aegidii Church
  • St. Ludgeri Church
St. Paulus Dom (Munster Cathedral)

1) St. Paulus Dom (Munster Cathedral) (must see)

In the heart of this German city, you'll find Munster Cathedral, known as St. Paulus Dom (The Cathedral Church of Saint Paul). This Catholic church features mainly Gothic architecture, constructed in the 13th century. There are two large Romanesque-style towers preserved from an earlier cathedral that was located at this site. The towers are topped with copper-covered pyramids.

The church interior features a central nave surrounded by two side aisles. As you enter, you'll be greeted by a sizable statue of St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers, standing on a pillar on one side of the nave. This sculpture dates from 1627. The Old Choir (Alte Chor) boasts a Baroque-style high altar that sits below round decorative windows. Underneath the Old Choir are tombs of the bishops.

Don't miss the superb astronomical clock, one of the most famous and intriguing features of the cathedral's interior. Built between 1540 and 1542, it has a 24-hour clock face, runs counterclockwise, and displays astronomical information such as the moon's phases and the positions of the planets. There are also three organs inside the church and some marvelous stained-glass windows.

Bombing during World War II caused considerable damage to the cathedral. A rebuilding of the structure to bring it back to its original appearance took place in the decade following the war. An extensive restoration also took place in the 21st century, completed in 2013.

Today, this beautiful cathedral offers regular church services and public tours. In front of Munster Cathedral is Cathedral Square (Domplatz), a vast public square paved in cobblestone bricks. The Weekly Market (Wochenmarkt), a vibrant farmer's market, is held twice weekly (Wednesday and Saturday) in the cathedral square.
Lambertikirche (St. Lamberti Church)

2) Lambertikirche (St. Lamberti Church) (must see)

St. Lamberti Church (Lambertikirche) is a magnificent Roman Catholic church in Munster's city center, next to Principal Market (Prinzipalmarkt). Construction of the current building began in 1375, with work continuing in stages throughout the 15th century.

This landmark parish church features Gothic architecture and a stunning church tower. The central nave stands below a soaring vaulted ceiling. There are beautiful stained-glass windows behind the high altar. Some very ornamental religious art pieces, figures, and sculptures can be seen around the church's interior and exterior.

Above the clock on the neo-Gothic church spire are three iron cages, a reminder of a dark part of this church's history. In 1536, three rebellion leaders were tortured and killed, their mutilated bodies placed on public display inside the cages — where they remained for 50 years!

The church holds regular worship services. They have music groups and community choirs. Music plays a big part in the church's operation. There are two pipe organs — a large suspended organ in the main hall and a smaller choir organ. There are also eight magnificent bells, several dating back over five centuries, in the belfry. Above the belfry is a 16th-century fire bell. The bells still ring for church services today.
Apostelkirche (Apostle Church)

3) Apostelkirche (Apostle Church)

The Apostle Church in Münster is the main Protestant church in the city. It is located in the northern part of the historic old town about halfway between St. Lamberti and the promenade belt . It was built as a monastery church for the Franciscans and from 1517 was the church of the Minorite monastery .

The Church of the Apostles is a Gothic hall church with two naves, now three naves, with a long, narrower choir with three bays and a 5/8 closure . On the east end of the nave roof rises a turret with the bell.

The church was built in the style of a mendicant order in the second half of the 13th century as a monastery church for the Franciscans who belonged to the Westphalian Custody in the Cologne Franciscan Province ( Colonia ); the brothers of the order, founded in 1210, probably settled in Münster in 1247, around 1270, with the help of Bishop Gerhard von der Mark , they received an extensive plot of land for the construction of the church and monastery, and by 1284 the nave , the choir and the southern aisle of the Church to the sixth yoke. The monastery was immediately north of the church. The Northern aisle and the two west bays were added with great sensitivity in the years 1654-59, since the church was felt to be inharmonious. It is the oldest purely Gothic church building in Westphalia . The original patron was Catherine of Alexandria .

The building was given the name of the Apostle Church in 1922 after the construction of a second evangelical church in Münster. In the following years, the fixtures from the 19th century were largely removed.

During World War II the church suffered severe damage. After provisional stadiums, reconstruction was not completed until around 1960. The church was rededicated on October 30, 1949 in the presence of Bishop Wilhelm Stählin . The reconstruction was supported by parishes on the Isle of Wight .
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
St. Martini Church

4) St. Martini Church

St. Martin is one of the oldest religious buildings in Münster. Relying on indirect sources, historians presume that the church was established around the year 1187. The original building wasn't preserved till the present day however and the contemporary exterior of the church is the result of multiple reconstructions. One of the most serious restorations took place in 1760 under the leadership of German architect Johann Schlaun, who replaced the pointed roof of the Romanesque tower with a Baroque dome, the one we witness today.

St. Martini was originally a three-aisled basilica with a western tower. Only the lowest part of the tower, which reveals Romanesque forms, remains of the original building. The basilica nave was replaced in the Middle Ages by a three-aisled hall church with round pillars, to which a long choir was added around 1380.

The Romanesque tower base was raised around 1480 by two floors richly decorated with figures, in which the bells are housed. The pointed roof of the tower was replaced around 1760 by a baroque hood that Johann Conrad Schlaun is said to have designed. In 1906, the Martini church tower on the Gothic upper floor was decorated with 20 statues made of Eifel sandstone. All figures are works by Münster sculptors and are up to 2.50 meters tall.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
St. Johannes Kapelle (St. John's Chapel)

5) St. Johannes Kapelle (St. John's Chapel)

The St. Johannes Kapelle (St. John's Chapel) in Münster is a small Gothic church, built in the northwest of the historic old town. During the early 14th century, the chapel used to be a branch of the Steinfurt Knights Commandery. Luckily, the St. Johannes Kapelle was just slightly damaged during Second World War and needed only lightweight restoration, after which it hasn't been changed at all.

The chapel is a towerless brick hall with sandstone buttresses and soffits . The portal to the west shows Renaissance forms . The four bays of the nave are covered with cross vaults. The keystones of the two western bays show the Cross of St. John and the head of John the Baptist . The tracery windows of the remaining walls are decorated with modern provided with stained glass panes.

The current appearance of the chapel is the result of an eventful history. At the beginning of the 14th century, the Burgsteinfurter Johanniter Command established a branch in Münster. The convent buildings included the chapel dedicated to the patron saint, a small rectangular building. When the coming was moved to Münster in the Reformation century, the chapel received an apse, a Renaissance portal and more elaborate furnishings.

In 1810 the Münster Order of St. John was abolished. The chapel was profaned and used as a storage room. During World War II the convent buildings were destroyed, but the chapel was only slightly damaged.

The Johannes chapel, which can accommodate almost 100 church visitors, has had a remarkable organ since 2002 , which was built by the organ building company Manufacture d'Orgues Muhleisen .

The organ stands on the north wall, next to two epitaphs . With a width of 2.90 m and a height of 6.30 m, it fills an entire bay, but is only 90 cm deep. In the lower part of the organ case is the Schwellwerk , above it the Hauptwerk with the (dismantled) Prinzipal 8′ in the prospectus . For reasons of space, the organ does not have its own pedals . The pedal stops are generated via transmissions from the Hauptwerk. The slider chest instrument has 17 registers on two manual works and 4 transmissions in the pedal. The playing and register actions are mechanical. theThe console stands free in front of the organ with a view of the chapel room.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Observantenkirche (Observant Church)

6) Observantenkirche (Observant Church)

The Observantenkirche is an Evangelical Church, built in 1694 by the Franciscan monks. The building was raised by two renown architects Anton Hülse and Johann Bavra.

During the period from 18th till 20th century, the fate of the church was less than fortunate. During the French invasion, the building was used as barracks or mews, as well as a stock place, and all the church equipment was auctioned off. While during the Second World War, the church was almost destroyed by Allied bombing. The full restoration started in 1958 and in May of 1961 the church was transferred to the Evangelical Theological Faculty of the University of Westphalia.

The contemporary church is built from red brick and the southwest facade is made with Westphalian light sandstone. The main premises of the Observantenkirche are constructed in pseudo-Gothic style. The north building is a new building from the end of the 17th century. It is a hall church with a modern roof turret . The masonry stands on a base of quarry stone. The buttresses are modeled on a Gothic church. Brick and the Gothic windows characterize the visual effect of the building.

The interior of the church was richly decorated by religious paintings and icons, donated by the wealthier parishioners. Up to the end of the 17th century the church was equipped with the altar, organ and three bells.

The Observant Church has three organs . A small two-manual organ with pedal and a positive organ are available for concert purposes.

A historic organ from the 17th century stood in the church until the beginning of the 19th century. After the dissolution of the monasteries, the elaborate organ case was sold. It is now in the Basilica of Our Lady (Zwolle) with an organ from 1896 .

The main organ on the south gallery was built in 1962 by the organ building company Paul Ott (Göttingen) based on a design by Rudolf Reuter. The slider chest instrument has 36 registers on three manuals and pedal. The breastwork is also the swell , the swell doors are operated using a hand lever. The playing and register actions are mechanical. Below is the disposition of the main organ.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Überwasserkirche (Overwater Church)

7) Überwasserkirche (Overwater Church)

Overwater Church (Überwasserkirche) is a beautiful Gothic hall church from 1340. The name of the church translates to "above water" (or "over water"), named for its location across the waters of the Münstersche Aa, a scenic river in Munster. The church is also known as the Church of Our Dear Lady (Liebfrauenkirche).

This splendid parish church features stunning Gothic architecture and a tall steeple. The soaring interior includes three naves and glorious, light-filled stained-glass windows behind the main altar. There is a large organ at the rear of the central nave and a smaller second organ in the choir room. Look for the apostles of Jesus that decorate the steeple portal. A carved Madonna and child greet you as you enter.

The bombings of World War II left this church severely damaged. A major restoration took place, completed in 1968. In 2016, another renovation required the church to close for most of that year. Today, this medieval church holds regular worship services, social activities, and events. It's a lovely place you'll want to check out during your tour around Munster.
St. Petri Church

8) St. Petri Church

The St. Petri is a Catholic Church in Münster. This church is famous for having wonderful acoustics and is often used for sacred concerts, various official ceremonies, as well as for weddings. The church was built during a 7-year period (1590-1597) by architect and construction manager, Johann Roßkott.

The church has been designed as a basilica-type building without a transept. The exterior walls were built of red brick and light sandstone was used for the structural elements. Two slender bell towers flank the chancel.

On the inside, the two floors are divided into galleries by elegant arches. Access to these is provided by a low stair tower on the north and south sides. The overall impression of the building is more horizontal than vertical.

Stylistically, St. Petri Church could be attributed to the harmonious combination of the Gothic and Renaissance styles. While the basic basilica structure and the buttresses appear backwards, the windows show mixed forms and the portals show pure Renaissance ornamentation. The whole structure of the church creates an impression of a sound and secure Holy dwelling.

Next to the church, on the Jesuitenweg, is the Dolomite sculpture, cut to size by the artist Ulrich Rückriem . The nine vertically positioned stones made of Anröchter dolomite form a counterpart to the buttresses of the church wall. The work, which was at times heavily criticized at first, was created for the Skulptur.Projekte in 1977 and is now owned by the city of Münster.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
St. Aegidii Church

9) St. Aegidii Church

St. Aegidii Church, alike St. Ludgeri, is one of the oldest parishes in Münster. It dates back to the end of the 12th century and is located in the historical center of the city. The first parish of St. Aegidii was established in 1174, and there is documented evidence of its existence during this early period. In 1184, the church was used as the base for the first Cistercians Monastery in Westphalia.

In 1821, this church collapsed and was demolished to be rebuilt 100 meters further to the east in pure Classicism style. The construction process was planned and controlled by the German architect, Johann Conrad Schlaun on the request of the Capuchin Parish.

The St. Aegidii Church is a hall church made of exposed brickwork with an attached ridge turret. Only the Baumberger sandstone facade experienced a greater architectural expression, which differs from Schlaun's first church building of the same order, the Kapuzinerkirche Brakel, in that it has a more developed frame system. In particular, the gable attachment now has a more elegant formulation compared to Brakel. The only decorative element used is a portal developed over a concave floor plan, whose broken segmental gable shows the donor coat of arms of the Plettenberg family.

The interior of the church is designed as a four-bay hall with a recessed rectangular choir, to which the psallier's choir is attached at the back.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
St. Ludgeri Church

10) St. Ludgeri Church

The Church of St. Ludgeri is one of the oldest religious buildings in Westphalia. It was inaugurated in 1173 and has gone through multiple changes before reaching its present exterior style. Initially the church was made of wood, but regardless of this, the premises looked very beautiful and created the impression of true greatness. About three hundred years later, the church was damaged by a fire and rebuilt in a different style.

The choir was vastly enlarged on the east side and two Romanesque style towers were added to the sides. The St. Ludgeri Church also maintains some Gothic details, including panel painting, stained glass, fresco and illuminated manuscripts. The tall, majestic tower dominates over the construction, it is crowned with beautiful stained windows and refined ironwork spires. The interior showcases pure Gothic style and is considered to be one of the most important models of Medieval art in Münster.

The central nave of St. Ludgeri consists of two bays , which are preceded by a square half bay on the western side. On the east side is the crossing square , on which the crossing tower is placed on the outside. The ceiling construction here consists of a flattened cupola . There are aisles on either side of the central nave. Due to their height, they do not allow additional windows in the central nave (construction type of the three-nave late Romanesque hall church of Westphalian character).

In the seven walls of the chancel are the windows by Vincenz Pieper . When viewed as a whole, they unite to form an overall picture in which the pillars between the individual windows seem to disappear. In the central window, which faces directly east, Jesus Christ 's way of salvation is shown , that is, his birth, suffering and death, resurrection and ascension , and rebirth.

The church also features eight life-size sandstone figures attributed to the sculptors Bernt Katmann or Johannes Kroeß. They are in the transition from the chancel to the apse and date from 1603 to 1607.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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