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Detmold: A Royal Seat with Winding Streets and Short Distances

Crooked, half-timbered houses, narrow alleyways and lots of water. The historic royal seat of Detmold boasts a radiant city centre. Short distances and the nice atmosphere at the university are sure to please.

by Bastian Rothe

Castle © Brothe
Castle . © Brothe

Facts & Figures

Inhabitants:
74,000
Students:
500
Universities:
2
Monthly rent:
230 €
Tip:
Try a “Pickert!”
Website:
www.stadtdetmold.de

Welcome to Detmold

Detmold is located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia between the cities of Bielefeld and Hannover. For the region of Ostwestfalen-Lippe, Detmold is quite important as it is home to numerous municipal organisations and regional authorities, courts and other public institutions.

Market place © Brothe
Market place . © Brothe

Furthermore, it’s the economic centre of the region. A number of noteworthy businesses in the fields of metalworking, mechanical engineering and furniture-making have set up operations here. There are also several corporations which belong to that illustrious circle of “global players” and employ several thousand people.

Detmold’s location is one of its main advantages. You can be in Berlin, Hamburg or Cologne in just a few hours by car. And just a little further away, you can visit several neighbouring countries, like the Netherlands, Denmark and Poland.

Detmold was a royal seat for counts and princes for almost 500 years – and the city still possesses something of its former glory. The town grew around a castle, which was built in the 13th century and is situated within a park. Detmold is a town for explorers and adventurers. You can and should lose your way through the winding streets and alleyways of the historic city centre. It’s a great way to discover something new all the time.

Adolfstrasse © Brothe
Adolfstrasse . © Brothe

There are many historic half-timbered buildings in Detmold. If you’ve never been in one, you should visit Adolfstrasse. Some of the people who live there are very friendly and occasionally allow tourists to take a quick peek into their rooms. There is also a guest house on Adolfstrasse where you can spend the night in a half-timbered house and see what it feels like to live in such small rooms.

If you need a breather from your studies, we recommend taking a bike ride outside Detmold and exploring the surroundings. The Hermannsdenkmal is a very famous commemorative site. Measuring over 50 metres in height, it’s Germany’s tallest monument.

Living in Detmold

Everything is nearby in Detmold. In just a few minutes, you can walk from the centre of town to both universities. And even if you live further away from downtown, the best way to travel is by bike. Many streets are lined with specially marked bike paths.

Wallgraben © Brothe
Wallgraben . © Brothe

While strolling down the small streets in town, you’ll discover many quaint restaurants and shops. You’ll find the “Cosmo Lounge” directly at the Wallgraben. In the summertime, they put out beach chairs where you can relax with your friends. "Café Cup“ on Exterstrasse, on the other hand, is a great place to go on rainy days. The warm café feeling will quickly make you forget your university stress and the nasty weather.

My tip

Try a “Pickert!” It’s a kind of pancake made with grated potatoes. Long ago Pickerts were what poor people used to eat. Nowadays Pickerts are served with butter, jelly, plum jam or liverwurst.

On nice summer days, you’ll notice that Detmold is very much a university town. You’ll see dozens of students lying on blankets in the parks. Students from the Hochschule für Musik often bring their instruments and play under the open sky. Sometimes they start jamming together spontaneously, and everyone gathers around to listen. Detmold’s alternative scene meets at the “Alten Pauline“. Although the house looks rather run-down, feel free to enter. They often hold concerts, discussions and other events there.

If you like hiking, you’ll find many trails which will take you through the Teutoburg Forest and to the top of the famous "Externsteine". Some people feel a strong spiritual connection to these cliffs which are so massive that they gather and sleep at the base on Walpurgis Night (30 April) and at the summer solstice.

Interview with Tomás from Brazil

Tomás Culleton is 21 years old and comes from Brazil. He is enrolled for two semesters in the Architecture bachelor’s degree programme in Detmold.

Tomás from Brazil © Brothe
Tomás from Brazil . © Brothe

Why did you decide to study in Detmold?

A professor at my university started a joint exchange programme with the university in Detmold, and it was through this programme that I came here.

What did you expect studying in Germany would be like?

I didn’t have any real concrete expectations. Of course, I had heard that you could get a really good education in Germany – especially in Engineering. That’s why I wanted to study in Germany.

How did you prepare for your stay in Germany?

In order to participate in the exchange programme, I first had to take an English or a German test. I decided to go for English. I had learned a little German beforehand, but I quickly realised that it wasn’t good enough.

What advice can you give other students who are interested in studying in Germany?

They should definitely learn German. You can get by with English in big cities like Berlin or Cologne, but in smaller towns like Detmold, there are many times you need German.

Did you encounter any difficulties at the beginning of your stay in Germany?

I needed some time to understand how the university works – like dealing with the forms, deadlines and so forth. Fortunately there’s a person who works here at the university in Detmold who really takes care of foreign students. She always helped me.

How did you find an accommodation in Detmold?

Through my exchange programme at our university, I came in contact with students who had been in Detmold before me. I was able to move into their old room in a flat share.

How do you pay for your expenses in Germany?

I get a scholarship from the Brazilian government. It pays for the cost of rent, additional expenses, tuition fees and so on.

Park at the Hochschule für Musik © Brothe
Park at the Hochschule für Musik . © Brothe

What do you especially like about Detmold?

That most everything is close by – a short way to the university, home, the supermarket, to sports. I live in a metropolis in Brazil and have to commute a long time to get to my university. Here it’s so much faster. It saves a lot of time and allows me to concentrate more on my studies.

What do you like about Germany?

I like that it’s so centrally located in Europe. Travelling is expensive in Brazil and I hardly ever take trips to neighbouring countries. But here in Germany, I’ve already travelled to the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and Greece – because it’s inexpensive and goes fast.

Video drone footage of Detmold