Regional Overview

Home of the Saxons

Westphalia is a region best known for its two great cities, Münster and Dortmund. The rest of the region is sprinkled with small towns and moated castles, divided evenly between the Ruhr and Ems rivers. The best things to see here are the ancient sandstone cities of Münster, Soest, and Lippstadt, which once stood astride the trade routes connecting the Hanseatic States to the Rhineland.

Regional Identity

What to Lookout For

  • The Westphalian Gothic, combining traditions from the Rhineland and the Baltic
  • A preference for sandstone-architecture rather than brick or half-timbering
  • An endless number of moated castles and palaces





Justin Bunch | CityscapeTravel My suggested travel destinations with the top three destinations highlighted.

What is Westphalia?

Westphalia, as the name would suggest, is the western part of something. In this case, the western part of the ancient Saxon Kingdom was brutally suppressed by Charlemagne and then incorporated into his empire. In this ancient sense, Westphalia includes a bit more of the Weser Valley and all of the Sauerland except the small part around Siegen.

In more modern times, Westphalia was to be differentiated from the Münsterland and the districts on the Ems river. It became increasingly associated with the Sauerland and the small strip of land on the North Side of the Ruhr. As the Sauerland has traditions of its own, it makes more sense to look at the original incarnation of Westphalia, a land of great cities and great rivers.

Despite near-total annihilation in WWII, both great cities, Münster and Dortmund, still show the wealth the region once offered. The Bishop of Münster and the Imperial City of Dortmund sat on strategic trade routes that facilitated the transfer of ideas and wealth. The beauty of the region lies in its towns and countless castles. It is certainly a region worth your visit.

Cities of Westphalia

Hiking in the Region

Hiking: The Dortmund-Ems Canal

Hiking: The Dortmund-Ems Canal

For those of us without cars, travel can sometimes be a challenge. Here are two interesting industrial monuments, the Zeche Waltrop and the Boat Lift…

Hiking: The Hohe Mark

Hiking: The Hohe Mark

The Hohe Mark is a nature park focused on the mixed forest and agricultural landscapes of Münsterland. Most of this hike takes you through the…

Hiking: Münsterland Panorama

Hiking: Münsterland Panorama

The flat plains of Westphalia around the city of Münster are colloquially referred to as the Münsterland. Despite the lack of serious topographic disturbance, the…

Hiking: Legacy of the Mines

Hiking: Legacy of the Mines

This is more of a niche hiking experience, but one that could still prove interesting from various perspectives. The route travels up and around several…

My Quantitative Travel Rankings

To understand where the categories come from, see this article here.

Social Score

4.1 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Hype: 2.5
  • Growth: 4.1
  • Wealth: 4.6
  • Recognition: 3.9
Ease of Travel

5.2 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Accommodation: 3.4
  • Transportation: 4.9
  • Ease of Planning: 5.0
  • Infrastructure: 5.8
  • Interactivity: 3.9
  • Airport: Yes
Historical Immersion

3.6 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Historical Context: 1.6
  • Monuments: 6.1
  • Quality*: 6.0
  • Landscape: 2.5
  • Vineyards: 0

4.5 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Undiscovered: 1.4
  • Cultural Immersion: 7.4
  • Tradition*: 5.0



Here you will find large and ancient cities rising from the plains sprinkled with timeless villages and moated castles.

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