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Monasteries, architecture & cultural landscape

The monks and nuns who came in the eighth century to the Teutoburg Forest, brought more than just Christianity and the word of God with them. They also possessed great horticultural and agricultural expertise, were savvy traders and builders. And shaped the region even more strongly than their impressive monuments still show.

Music and enjoyment of art in ancient abbeys

Today there are only a few "active" monasteries in the Teutoburg Forest. During the Reformation period and especially during the occupation by Napoleon's troops the abbeys were dissolved, buildings and land became secularly owned. However, many monastery buildings have been preserved. And accommodate today attractive exhibitions and are frequently locations for exceptional cultural events: Above all music lovers rave about the acoustics of the centuries old arches.

In addition, cycling and hiking trails link outstanding monasteries. And thus make the partly preserved, partly revived garden culture of the nuns and monks experiencable.

The Westphalian monastery history started with the conversion to Christianity of the Saxons under Charlemagne. The Frankish King and also his successors established monasteries to continue to spread the new faith. However, they also pursued tangible economic interests, because the religious orders in many places transformed formerly uninhabited wilderness into productive agricultural land. Not infrequently, abbeys were also the seeds of later booming cities.

In addition to monastic communities of monks and nuns, there were ecclesiastical foundations. Unmarried or widowed women mostly from noble benefactor families formed here Christian communities, which helped the poor and needy.


Corvey - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Corvey was one of the most important monastery foundations of the early Middle Ages in the German-speaking world. Benedictines came from Northern France to the river Weser, to build a centre of Christian faith at the request of Charlemagne in the former Saxon tribal area. In addition, the Imperial Abbey evolved into an economic and cultural centre - with a market and a right to mint coins, with imperial immunity and an ever-growing library.

Many art treasures were lost in the turmoil of the reformation and the thirty years war. However, among other things frescoes were preserved from the founding period, which are unique in the world. So thought UNESCO and nominated Corvey as a world heritage site.

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Dalheim: "Joined! 1,700 years of monastic culture"


The treasure chest of Gothic and especially Baroque architecture, which was gradually built up to great prosperousness from 1429 by Augustiner canons, in 1803 suffered the fate of all abbeys: It was secularised and subsequently served as a Prussian domain - that is a large farm. In 2007, the Regional Authority of Westphalia-Lippe, in the historic buildings, opened the unique exhibition in Europe "Joined! 1,700 years of monastic culture"

It conveys the great historical contexts, and also shows daily monastery life - from the reasons for "joining" up to the work of today's monks and nuns.

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Marienmünster: medieval size and Baroque splendou

Marienmünster is one of the best-preserved medieval monasteries in Westphalia. In 1128, twelve monks from Corvey founded the Abbey, which experienced its first boom in the 12th and 13th centuries. After the end of the thirty years war, the monastery experienced a renewed increase in prosperity – and so visitors now revel in the Baroque splendour of Marienmünster. More >>

Marienfeld: Monastery brewery and concert

The former wealth of the Cistercian monastery of Marienfeld is reflected today in the preserved buildings. Mainly in the Romanesque church of St. Mary (Marienkirche), the construction of which was begun in 1185 in the year of the foundation of the monastery. The pièce de résistance of the Church is the organ dating back to 1751. The meticulously restored instrument can be heard regularly in concerts. The monastery garden, in whose beds typical healing and crop plants thrive, was newly laid based on historical models.

In the monastery shop there is a varied mixture of books, music, antiques and wine. In the best tradition of the monks, beer is brewed again today: You can taste the "Original Klosterbräu" in the restaurant "Klosterkeller". And last but not least, it is definitely worth a stop in the "Klostercafé", where coffee and cakes are served. More >>

Reformation & counter-reformation

Connoisseurs of church art discover traces of the ecclesiastical religious upheavals of the 16th century in many houses of worship in the Teutoburger Wald region today. The Reformation spread first in larger towns like Lemgo. In the Evangelical Church of the old Hanseatic city, an artistically impressive baptismal font shows the changed attitude to baptism by the reformers.

The Town Hall in the market, one of the most important buildings of the Weser Renaissance, is also decorated with typical images.

Also sovereigns relented to the reformation of their territories, for example Lippe in the year 1538. Lippe remained Protestant, in Paderborn, however, "Counter-Reformation" prevailed, and in 1622 the Lutheran faith was wiped out in the whole bishopric. Today, the old 'border' between the denominations in the region is still felt in many places.

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Westphalian enjoyment in numbers

  • 4
    enjoyable museums in the Westphalian Culinarium at Nieheim
  • 6
    months - at least - is the time it takes to age a Westphalian ham on the bone
  • 24
    hours to bake pumpernickel bread
  • 38
    percent alcohol in a real Steinhäger
  • Countless
    number of recipes for Pickert
  • Persönliche Beratung und Tipps vor Ort & zur Reiseplanung
  • Die beste Auswahl an Hotels und Ferienwohnungen persönlich getestet
  • Tipps von ausgesuchten Reiseexperten aus der Region