Greater Westphalia was the ancestral home to the Saxon peoples who initially settled along the three great waterways of the region: the Weser, Ems, and Ruhr rivers. As the centuries rolled by, each river took on a distinct cultural identity, deeply connected to the bounty that each river provided. The Weser brought the Renaissance to North Germany, the Ems facilitated great trade routes, and the Ruhr powered the Industrial Revolution. Today Westphalia is a dramatically dynamic region, from Germany’s industrial heartland to rolling hills and windswept plains. Below are the regions that comprise Westphalia, each with a unique identity.

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This sparsely populated region was only really settled in the 19th century when steam engines allowed for draining the moorlands and marshes. What it lacks in castles, cities, and churches, it has beautiful landscapes of hedgerows, windmills, and ancient moors. The beauty of the Emsland is its rugged cultural landscape of farms, canals, and forests.
winding tower of zollverein coal mine industrial complex in essen germany


The Ruhr may not be beautiful, but it has industry and a lot of it. Exploring the Ruhr Valley is not a proposition to take lightly. There are few old buildings, no famous statues or monuments, dirty cities, and uninspiring natural landscapes. Visiting the Ruhr will let you explore the industries that shaped human society, from coal and iron mining to steel and textile mills.
Freudenberg Sauerland


The wildlands of Westphalia are a rugged mountainous region sitting between the rolling fields of Hessen and the industrial Rhine Valley. The region was once home to the rump Duchy of Westphalia, a remote area under the control of the Cologne Prince-Bishops, who governed from the town of Arnsberg. Aside from Hagen, Siegen, and Soest, it’s almost uninhabited, known best for dense forests and forgotten mines.


This region follows the shifting silhouette of the Weser River as it leaves the highlands of Hessen and Thüringen. The Weser was a culturally important river, linking the Hanseatic city of Bremen with the interior. Though the region is best known for its distinctive Weser-Renaissance style of architecture, its fractured political past yields a region full of unique surprises.


The modern, smaller Westphalia is a vast fertile plain that traces the arc of the Ems River as it flows out of the Egge Mountains and into East Frisia. Historically it was home to the powerful Prince-Bishops of Münster and Paderborn, along with several other minor principalities. Though WWII saw both cities reduced to ash, travel through our Westphalian inheritance focuses on the hundreds of beautiful castles, palaces, and small towns scattered across the region.

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Historical Regions

Explore Europe from the perspective of ages past