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Münster: City of bicycles and students

Münster is famous for its many bicycles. This beautiful city has a homey feeling and numerous greens and parks to relax in. The universities and research institutes have attracted many young people to the city. In fact, one out of every five inhabitants is a student. The Münsterland is a region rich in tradition in western Germany.

by Dominik Brüggemann

Cycle path © Horschig/DAAD
Cycle path . © Horschig/DAAD

Facts & Figures

Inhabitants:
293,000
Students:
54,900
Universities:
4
Monthly rent:
305 €
Tip:
Enjoy every kind of music at the alternative location "Gleis 22"!
Website:
www.muenster.de

Welcome to Münster

With over 50,000 enrolled students, Münster is one of Germany’s largest university towns. City living is not as hectic as in a metropolis. Life moves at a slower pace, but the city is certainly not boring. You especially notice it in traffic. The locals love their bikes and prefer to use them instead of their cars because the city is extremely compact. You can cover short distances faster and easier by bike.

Bicycle garage © Horschig/DAAD
Bicycle garage . © Horschig/DAAD

Münster is home to several innovative research and technology institutes. Future-oriented companies have discovered this academic potential which helps drive their development. Its many young people, diverse university facilities, exciting cultural activities and bicycles as the universally popular method of transportation are what make this city so unique.

There are bike paths throughout the city, and there’s even a bicycle garage at the main train station where you can rent, park or have your bike repaired. At many stop lights, you are allowed to move to the front of the line of cars so that drivers can see you better. If the weather’s bad, you can simply use the public bus lines. But if you go on foot, always watch out for oncoming bikers at the traffic lights and intersections.

Friedenssaal © Brüggemann/DAAD
Friedenssaal . © Brüggemann/DAAD

There is a long 4.5-km promenade which runs around downtown Münster. This green ring circling the historic part of town used to be the site of the city wall, but is now open to bikers and pedestrians. A large Trödelmarkt (jumble sale) regularly takes place along the promenade during the summer. There you can find (or sell) used goods at an affordable price.

Münster is famous for its Friedenssaal (Peace Hall). Located inside the Historic City Hall, it was the meeting place of a large congress of European ambassadors from 1644 to 1648. They were the first to draft a treaty known as the “Peace of Westphalia” which finally brought peace to Europe after the Thirty Years’ War.

Promenade © Brüggemann/DAAD
Promenade . © Brüggemann/DAAD

The Historic City Hall is located at Prinzipalmarkt in the heart of the historic district. The buildings around Prinzipalmarkt are all very impressive with their decorative gables. An arcade at street level protects pedestrians from wind and rain. Today the Prinzipalmarkt is a pedestrian street with numerous shops and stores.

Münster is a religious centre in the predominantly Catholic region of the Münsterland. Many inhabitants attend church services at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Of course, you can also visit the church even if you don’t intend to pray there. It’s certainly worth seeing.

More photos

Living in Münster

Because Münster has so many students, there is a broad range of cultural activities targeted at a younger audience. Students usually meet at one of the many student pubs in the city, such as “Cavete” on Kreuzstrasse which offers food and drinks at inexpensive prices.

St. Paul's Cathedral © Horschig/DAAD
St. Paul's Cathedral . © Horschig/DAAD

You’ll also find a number of bars and clubs at the former harbour. Heaven – a club where DJs put on electro, house and Black music – is especially popular. Internationally acclaimed DJs are regularly invited to perform there as well. You can attend live concerts and parties with pop and rock music at the Jovel on Albersloher Weg.

To relax, we recommend going to the Aasee – a beautiful lake located in walking distance west of downtown Münster. You can rent a paddle boat, relax on the shore or even learn how to sail. The Rieselfelder nature preserve is even more relaxing. Located several kilometres north of Münster, the preserve offers visitors a spectacle in the spring and autumn when thousands of migratory birds stop to rest on the meadows and ponds there.

My tip

Gleis 22 is a highly acclaimed alternative music club with live concerts and parties featuring independent and rock music mostly. The club is located on Hafenstrasse very close to the main train station.

If you’re interested in art, Münster is the perfect place for you. The city is particularly proud of its “skulptur projekte münster”, an exhibition which takes place every ten years and always leaves lasting memories behind. International artists design gigantic sculptures for the exhibition, some of which remain permanently on display. On a visit to the Aasee, you’ll discover three monumental concrete spheres which were made for the exhibition years ago.

If you like cooking, we recommend going to the weekly market on Domplatz. The market is open every Wednesday and Saturday. There you can purchase or try the wares and regional specialities offered by local bakers, farmers and butchers.

Interview with Sergii from Ukraine

Sergii Kholiavka from Ukraine is 31 years old and is writing his dissertation in the German Studies department at the University of Münster.

Picture of Sergii from the Ukraine © Sergii Kholiavka
Sergii from the Ukraine . © Sergii Kholiavka

How did you prepare for your stay in Germany?

After I received notification of my scholarship award, I had to prepare myself academically. I tried learning more about the research landscape because I wasn’t exactly sure in what field I wanted to get my doctorate. I was familiar with university life in Germany because I had already completed several research and study visits here.

What should a student take care of before coming to Germany?

Obviously it’s important to have an idea about what you want to study in Germany. The requirements for studying humanities differ from those in Ukraine or Russia for example. It’s good to take a look at the study regulations which gives you an overview of the content of the degree programme, the modules and the examination procedures.

What did you find most difficult about living in Germany in the beginning? And how did you deal with it?

It was during the first weeks when I didn’t know which courses to take. And the lack of contact to people I knew was a little hard at first. I tried to attend public events – city tours and meetings with international students where you could meet people.

Aasee © Brüggemann/DAAD
Aasee . © Brüggemann/DAAD

How did you find a place to stay in Münster? Do you have any advice for others who are looking for a flat?

Through the Studentenwerk at the University of Münster. The earlier you begin and send in applications, the better your chances of finding a place with a lower rent in Münster. And I had the feeling that the Studentenwerk understood the difficulties of foreign guests and offered help whenever possible.

What do you especially like about Münster?

As a Ukrainian, I was really surprised that they offer Ukrainian Studies as a subject here. The chair of the department allowed me to attend his courses without registering. It‘s been really helpful for my doctoral programme. And yes, the bunnies run around the lawns here, very cute. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Why is Münster a good place for students?

Münster offers a very extensive foreign language programme. The WWU Münster is one of the most renowned universities in Germany and was chosen as the site of several Excellence Initiatives. But it’s also a very diverse town – from the quiet countryside in Gieven to the coolest clubs at the harbour and downtown.