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Welcome * to Billerbeck Pearl of the Baumberge

d pprove a e t a t *S lace of p d n a resort f the o y a t r d i a l e o h in the h e g a m pilgri rland M端nste

It all started with Liudger … After the death of St. Liudger, the first bishop of Münster, who died in Billerbeck in 809, the small village in the Baumberge quickly developed into a place of pilgrimage, drawing people from near and far. In 2002, the state approved holiday resort and place of pilgrimage, celebrated 700 years of receiving ist town charter and its history, which spans over many centuries. Billerbeck today has a population of 12.000 and enjoys a well-developed tourist industry, with an overnight occupancy of over 80.000 p. a.; the beauty of the town, its excellent gastronomy and its array of cultural offerings are contributing factors.

Old view of the city

Before 800: Small farming settlement. The 'Johanniskirche' is but a small stone building.

Memorial of the holy Liudger

26.3.809 St. Liudger, first bishop of Münster, dies in Billerbeck, then called 'Billerbecci'.

809 2

Billerbeck from afar

1217 First mention of a 'fürstbischöflicher Amtshof' in Billerbeck (local authority).

1302 In February 1302, Bishop Otto III of Rietberg (1301 1306) bestows the freedom of the town to Billerbeck.

1382 The plague or 'Black Death' ravages in Europe and reaches Billerbeck. Legend has it that parts of the town were deserted for longer periods and, that wolves apparently encroached upon the place. A cemetery on the Aaberg, in the rural district of Langenhorst, is testimony to the victims of the 'Black Death'.

1548 The Wiedertäufer (Anabaptists) set fire to the town. After having defeated the Anabaptists (1534/35) splinter groups started several fires at five corners of the town, probably at the five gates. As a result Billerbeck was almost razed to the ground.

1302 – 2002 700 years municipal laws

„Wy Otto von der gnade Godes bisschop tho Munster maket kundlich, ... dat wy wyllet hebben ein stedeken von unsen dorpe tho Bilrebecke ...“ „... Voertmer soe de borgerie (=Bürgerschaft) ... dat selve recht und privilegien, alse dat recht und privilegien hebbet de borgere van Münster ...“ From the charter of the freedom of the town.

1667 The great fire. A great fire destroys a large part of the town and with it the town hall and its archives. Only as recently as 1981 a copy of the freedom of the town charter was rediscovered in the archives of Fürst Salm-Horstmar. For years one had tried to locate them without any success.

2002 700 th anniversary of the 'freedom of the town'.

The Cathedral An imposing building at the centre of our small town and a popular meeting place


... under great hardship stone was by masons and artists to create Just like a painting! From the planes of the Münsterland the Baumberge rise like a silhouette. This landscape is very varied: wide, golden-yellow and green valleys, densely forested hills, quietly meandering brooks, and peaceful, sunbathed woodland walks ... But hiking through the Baumberge also means following in the footsteps of history. Here, between the Münsterland and the North Sea, is the origin of many a buildings and works of art, stretching from the middle ages to the present. For centuries local sandstone was laboriously quarried to allow masons and artists to create their specific works of art. And it is through this that the landscape with its Baumberger sandstone has contributed to the cultural history. Ever since quarrying started here, working with the ‘Baumberger’, as the sandstone is affectionately known, has been the livelihood for many.

Sandstone sculpture 'Hans Guck in die Luft'

Baumberger sandstone


Weathered gatepost

quarried here and then used works of art.

Sandstone, a local trademark

Tranquillity – the old churchyard 'Johanniskirchhof',

Resting on the cathedral steps

a heritage site

Discovering Billerbeck Regretfully, there are not many country villages left in the MĂźnsterland, which retained their unique character. Fortunately, Billerbeck managed to preserve its own special flair. It still has an old sleepy churchyard surrounded by small houses, old houses steeped in history and cobbled streets and alleyways. Find out for yourself! A walk through Billerbeck is interesting not only for its many famous historical buildings but, particularly for the little surprises along the way.

Weekly market


View from the cathedral steps

Small but Select In Billerbeck the land – and townscape come together in a unique blend; this finds its expression in the local dialect (Plattdeutsch) often heard in the pubs, in its traditional shops, up market boutiques, shooting matches or rock-concerts. Street cafes and beer gardens – where people meet for a chat, to relax or simply to enjoy – compare with the best. Although everything here is on a smaller scale it certainly is select. Hospitality is part of the local tradition. Great emphasis is placed on the well being of travelers visiting this old cathedral town. A stroll through town

At the market place: a relief fountain, for tactile discoveries


Mayor Marion Dirks, deputy mayor Gerd Mollenhauer and 50 local residents collect their award in the garden of the ZDF-Television Corporation in Mainz

“Our town in bloom” – silver medal for Billerbeck! Billerbeck was awarded a silver medal in a countrywide competition entitled 'Entente Florale' – our town in bloom. There was great jubilation particularly so as the town had entered the competition for the first time.

A connoisseur’s paradise Fancy some French cuisine or a local 'münsterländisch' dish? A banquet means different things to different people but in Billerbeck gastronomically delights cater for all tastes. lt won't take long for the visitor to find their favorite eating-place. It doesn't matter if you choose a classy restaurant or settle for a simple country inn, everybody here is proud of their local specialties, prepared and served within the ambience of old family traditions. Apropos specialties: can you imagine being tempted by freshly baked delights in a bakery at 1 a.m. in the morning? Don't miss to try it in Billerbeck! The town also offers a great selection of holiday accommodation, ranging from luxury hotel suites to simple rooms on a farm.

A typical beer garden

Enjoy your meal!

Live entertainment


1658 School building near the Johannischurchyard

1841–1898 1841 Establishment of first independent pre-school 1858 Founding of Rektoratsschule 1864 Billerbeck gets its first hospital 1866 Founding of first bank 1895 Second Bank is founded 1892 – 1898 Building of St Liudgerus cathedral 1892 Building of the new town hall

1969 Three independent communities join together and create the town of Billerbeck. Several farming communities are incorporated in the new district.

Things to see and marvel at Start your walk at the historic town hall where you will find a bronze relief map, showing you places of interest. A tour of Billerbeck is a walk through its history: St. Johanniskirche, the cathedral, the courthouse, Haus Beckebans, Archidiakonatshaus, the town hall all are linked to the historical development of the town.

The Courthouse

Haus Beckebans

The courthouse in Billerbeck is first mentioned in the year 1217. All the remains today are the ruins of the towers and a barrel vault. Until the abolition of the 'Fürstbistum Münster' in 1803 the house was the office of the local judge. The present building, with its picturesque moat, dates back to 1820.

In the centre of town stands one of the oldest and most beautiful secular buildings of Billerbeck: Haus Beckebans, first mentioned in 1409. In 1560 the elaborate renaissance gable was added. The brickwork is in the vernacular style of the Münsterland. The building exemplifies the transition from town residences of the nobility to houses of wealthy citizens.


The bronze relief map in front of the town hall

The town hall

The Archidiakonatsbuilding This building is situated on the south side of the beautifully restored St. John’s church square. Until 1825 the diocese of Münster was subdivided into ecclesiastical self-administered bodies. One of the archdeacons resided in Billerbeck in this, his own house (called a Kurie) – a privilege at the time. The house dates from the early 16 th century and is one of the oldest buildings in town. In 1679 the present main-building was added: it extends in a right angle from the original sandstone building with its basement. Above the entrance it shows the coat of arms of the Archdeacon Wilhelm Freiherr von Fürstenberg.

The town hall of 1892 was built in tandem with the Ludgerus cathedral. This neogothic building was designed by Hilger Hertel the younger. The old town hall of the 17 th century, together with the girls-school, was demolished to make way for the new cathedral. It is a seven-axis sandstone building with its original entrance between the first and second axis. The three axes to the left are ornately sculpted across three levels, whilst the three subsequent axes are protruding and gabled. With its ridge-turret, iron-ties and a statue of St. Liudger the town hall certainly is an eye-catching building on the cathedral square. It also houses the Tourist-Information.

Historic staircase, town hall


Foto: Bärbel Gievert, Gerburg Wessels

Ludgerus Cathedral

Main portal of the cathedral

Ludgerus Cathedral (Propsteikirche) The imposing 'House of God' was built between 1892 - 1898 by Wilhelm Rincklake (1851 - 1927) in the form of a neogothic basilica. The church stands near the place where, according to legend, St. Liudger died on 26.3.809. The architectural structure is reminiscent of the medieval gothic style, and so are the inferior and the stained glass windows. In the south tower a chapel is dedicated to St. Liudger, who in 805, under the rule of Charlemagne, was made first bishop of Münster. However, he lies buried in the monastery at Werden.



St. Liudger’s chapel

Historic stained glass window (which survived the war undamaged)

Foto: Roman Mensing / artdoc.de

Billerbeck's War Memorial after restoration

War Memorial Right next to the Ludgerus Cathedral a war memorial was erected (1926) to commemorate those men of Billerbeck, who had lost their lives in action. The monument is a work by the local artist Bernhard Mayer who used Baumberger sandstone. It was restored in 2000. Every Sunday at 11.30 am the tune "Wenn nicht du" is played in front of the monument. Friedrich Jaecker, a professor of music from Cologne, composed it.

Chapel of the farming community in Aulendorf

St. Mary’s Chapel St. Mary’s chapel in Aulendorf dates from 1890; it is a neogothic church built from local sandstone with a rib-vaulted choir. The nave is supported by several free standing columns and vaulted buttresses. The exterior gable incorporates the statue of a Madonna, the south side had a vestry added to it and, on the north side several smaller annexes were built. Worthwhile mentioning are the Madonna with a crescent moon (probably 18 th century), a statue of St. Antonius (19 th century) and a pieta (18 th / 19 th century). The chapel was built on the foundations of an earlier wooden church of 1747.

Statue of St. Liudger (1887) 11

Ludgerusfountain Documentary evidence of the fountain goes back to 1541. The baroque chapel of 1702, adjacent to the fountain, was a gift from the local judge and his wife to the people of Billerbeck. Their coat of arms is displayed on either side of the entrance. The base of the altar – a depiction of St. Liudger on his deathbed – remained in the old chapel until the cathedral was built. The present fountain dates from 1953. The following year Bernhard Mayer from Billerbeck created the Statue of St. Liudger with the features of cardinal Galen, a courageous man of the cloth who, in 1934, preached in front of 18.000 people against the Nazi regime. A path leading through the grounds of the fountain area describes on 20 tablets the life of St. Liudgers. Legend has it that the fountain came into being through the so-called 'geese miracle': the farming community of Bockelsdorf, just above the town of Billerbeck, told the St. Liudger about a drought they were experiencing and showed him the dried up fountain. The saint took two geese and dropped them into the fountain. They started to scratch the ground and eventually re-emerged at the site where the present fountain is. A well started to flow and hasn't stopped since.

Ludgerusfountain and Chapel (1702)


One of the 20 tablets describing the life of St. Liudger

742 Liuder, first bishop of Münster, is born into a Friesian family of noble descent.

He attends the cathedral school in Utrecht and later continues his studies in York, where he is ordained in 777.

787 Charlemagne appoints him to do missionary work in Friesia and West-Saxony. With great dedication he succeeds to christianize the areas and to build several places for worship and prayer, e. g. Billerbeck, Coesfeld, Nottuln and Herzfeld.

805 The wandering priest Liudger is installed as bishop of Münster.

809 Liudger dies in Billerbeck. Even today, the place where he died remains a place of veneration to the saint.


According to legend the fountain is a result of the „Geese-Miracle“, performed by St. Liudger.


St. Johanniskirche The old parish church St. Johann (parish church of Billerbeck) is one of the most remarkable examples of a late Romanic building in Westphalia. The earliest traceable date, when building work started, seems to be 1074. What remains from this early church are merely fragments of the tower and the foundation stone, which has been incorporated into the right aisle. The foundation stone of the present church was laid in 1234. In 1425 some gothic alterations were undertaken, still recognisable in the style and shape of the windows. The exterior of the church is dominated by its beautifully crafted and ornate late-Romanic main portal; it is one of the best examples of its kind from this period in the M端nsterland. North portal, Johanniskirche

The church square, a heritage site


The interior consists of the nave and aisles on either side. A strong French influence dictated the design of the interior decoration, in particular with regards to the columns. It seems that they are copies of those found in the churches of Laons, Poitiers and Candes. The church is endowed with a rich collection of arte facts, which are well worth exploring.

Baroque Pieta – a gift from the Gröninger couple

Historic gem: St. Johanniskirche

Traditional bell ringing

Some Special Features In the centre of the nave the figure of a Madonna from around 1480 is suspended from the ceiling, clad in a mandorla of rays and resting her feet on a crescent. From the same period a pieta by Johann Wilhelm Gröninger and a sculpture of 'Anna Selbdritt' (the holy kinship of Anna, Mary her daughter and the Jesus child) are found in the north transept. In the south transept is the so-called Magdalene alter from 1611, a work ascribed to Wilhelm Gröninger. At the rear end of the south transept an impressive Renaissance altar can be found by an unknown artist. The St. Paul's altar at the rear end of the north transept is another work by Wilhelm Gröninger. Worth mentioning are the church bells which are renowned in the Münsterland for their beautiful and melodious sound. The ringing of the bells is done manually, whereby the clappers are pulled against the rim of the mounted bells. Two of the three original bells from 1522/23 are still in use.

Suspended Madonna [1480)

Stake from the 15 th century

Anna Selbdritt (1480) 15

Alte Landwirtschaftschule – Community Centre


Cultural Delights Culture is alive and kicking in Billerbeck! In fact it is so alive that even the people of Billerbeck are often amazed what is on offer in their town. Take theatre for example: every year thousands of young and old theatre enthusiasts descent on the open air theatre, which gained its reputation as a popular venue for children’s and youth productions. But grown-ups have been catered for too: every two years, the church square, in front of the Johannis church, becomes the scene of a theatre spectacular. Touring ensembles from out with the area also visit the town regularly. During the course of a year a varied cultural programme is on offer at the Alte Landwirtschaftsschule. The topics range from classical music to jazz, rock, cabaret and children’s theatre. People interested in the fine arts can enjoy changing exhibitions at the Kreiskulturzentrum Kolvenburg.

Open-air theatre


The “Theatre Mile” From the centre of town all way to the open-air theatre extends the so called theatre mile. It is flanked by 15 objects, which in some or other way have a connection to scenes or characters in theatre. This project was made possible through the generous sponsorship of local businesses, institutions and the people of Billerbeck. All the sculptures are works by artists from the region and they certainly enhance the visual impact of the town’s overall impression.

Approaching the train station

Puk, a character from Shakespeares 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

Live music in a local pub

Sculpture: ‘Biedermann und die Brandstifter’



“Tuscany of the Münsterland” – the Baumberge

Explorations on bike! The magic word for a rewarding holiday in the Münsterland is: Pättkesfahrten. This means cycling along quiet country lanes, away from the hustle and bustle of busy roads and motorway traffic. Exercising in fresh air and taking in the beauty of the countryside is nourishment for body and soul. Green meadows, small chapels in remote and tranquil places, ancient knotty trees, dilapidated barns … this and much more can be experienced on a cycle tour in and around this picturesque part of the Münsterland. But there are also other places of interest which the area around Billerbeck prides itself of, e. g. moated castles, monasteries and churches. And, after a lengthy cycle tour don't forget to take a well-deserved break in one of the typical country inns (Gasthof). The cycle paths around Billerbeck are all well sign posted. Alternatively, you can get detailed information and maps from the local Tourist-Information.

A 'Pättkes Tour'


Two friends!

Foto: Bärbel Gievert, Gerburg Wessels

Gerleve Monastery – a place for retreats and quiet contemplation

Foto: Bärbel Gievert, Gerburg Wessels

The Benedictine Abbey of Gerleve

Old waterwheel at the river Berkel

Just a few miles from Billerbeck you will find the Benedictine Abbey of Gerleve. lt was founded in 1899 by the monks of the abbey Beuron in the Danube Valley. For the purpose of establishing a monastic house the grounds were gifted to the monks by the Wermelt sisters. Between 1901 and 1904 the abbey church and the east wing were added to the design of Wilhelm Rincklake, an architect from Münster, who was also responsible for the planning and building of Billerbeck cathedral. In 1911 the south wing and in 1960 the east wing were completed. In the annex to the abbey a guesthouse and a youth centre are located.

Holiday resort Berkelquelle “100 km from Billerbeck to the tributary into the Ijssel.” This is the message chiseled into a stone, which marks the origin of the river Berkel. From here, between the Münsterland and the Netherlands, a flourishing trade was conducted in the past. Until the turn of the century (1800/1900) the river Berkel was extensively used for shipping. Today this area is cherished for its recreational facilities, walkways and cycle paths. A special attraction is the so called Kneipp-Basin (a form of hydrotherapy based on the methods developed by the Bavarian priest Johannes Kneipp, 1821-1897) that opened in 1999.


Sandstone boulder with inscription, near the well of the river Berkel. 19

Castles, Keeps and Stately Homes The Münsterland is home to over a hundred moated castles, keeps and stately homes. Some of the most beautiful examples, large or small, picturesque or plain, are found in the vicinity of Billerbeck and, they are all easily accessible on foot, on bicycle or by car. A leisurely walk will get you to the castle Kolvenburg, a typical example of a home built for the gentry during the 19th century. The very impressive castle Darfeld is the realisation of a dream by a local aristocrat. It is built in the Italian renaissance style. House Hameren, Castle Varlar, House Stapel, House Runde, the Castle Hülshoff and House Havixbeck are all worth a visit. You will probably soon identify your own favorite castle in the surrounds of Billerbeck and dream about those times and lives gone by …!

Castle Varlar

Castle Hülshoff

Castle Darfeld


House Stapel

Castle Kolvenburg – always worth a visit

Roundtower with 'Specklagenmauerwerk' (see text below)

Castle Kolvenburg

House Hameren

Like most castles Kolvenburg is not a homogenous uniform structure. The present building incorporates parts of a former surrounding well, a tower and a twochambered house. The original water-castle (remains of the moat are still visible) got its name from the Colve family who purchased the property around 1300 from the Knights of Billerbeck. From the 16th century onward tenants or caretakers mainly occupied the castle. Between 1958 and 1976 several sections of the castle underwent major restorations. Today it serves as a community centre for the district of Coesfeld with changing exhibitions and other cultural events.

This castle consists of two buildings, each one on a separate island. For over two hundred years (since the middle of the 16th century) the property was divided between those two houses. The older part, castle Hameren-Raesfeld, occupies the island to the east. It still has its original tower for storing provisions (1593), a baroque utility building and a neogothic chapel (1869). The later building, castle Hameren-Schildern, boast a round tower from around 1600. It was constructed in the Dutch fashion of alternating white bricks with red roof slates and referred to locally as 'Specklagenmauerwerk' (as it is reminiscent to layers of ham!). A double-winged farm buil ding and a square tower were added later.

House Runde

At castle Hülshoff a bust of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff commemorates the most famous female poet and writer of the Münsterland.


Good connections all day, every day

Arrived safely – bycicle- and storage facility

Billerbeck Station The station opened first in 1908. Sadly, after years of heavy traffic, goods trains ceased to run along this line and the station became obsolete and neglected. The building and its surrounding area rapidly fell into disrepair. This development was met with great concern by the town of Billerbeck. Over many years plans and ideas were formulated, how to find the best remedy to the situation. In the year 2000 the town decided to purchase the station. Nowadays, it houses a cycle storage- and renting facility, a cycle workshop, a kiosk, a cafeteria and a space for arts and culture. This costly and extensive conversation culminated in the re-opening of “Billerbeck's Bahnhof” to the public on the 17th of February 2004. Since, the Station has gained on unique reputation, which reaches far beyond Billerbeck. Changing exhibitions, various cultural events and a cafeteria invites you to come, relaxe and enjoy! More information is available under: www.billerbecks-bahnhof.de

Front of the refurbished station building


Tour with the “Baumberge-Express”

Skating area at the “Helker Berg” Sport Center

Here to help! We, the people of Billerbeck, are of the opinion that our town and the surrounding Baumberge must be one of the most beautiful spots within the Münsterland. Visitors from near and far seem to agree. During your stay, we would like to show you as much as possible of the area. For this reason we have compiled special tours of interest, which include: guided tours of the town, castle tours, trips to the Baumberge, journeys on the “Baumberge-Express”, visits to a farm, or to an indigo-printing firm = “Blaudruckerei”. Maybe you are more interested in physical activities, such as hiking, pin-bowling, swimming or whatever … talk to us and we are happy to help! For further information we have some brochures for you in store.

On a guided tour through Billerbeck you will discover many interesting details

i For information and ticketing (e. g. guided tour with focus on “Liudger” or a ride on the “Baumberge-Express”) please refer to: Tourist-Information Billerbeck Markt 1 48727 Billerbeck Tel.: + 49 (0) 25 43 / 73 73 Fax: + 49 (0) 25 43 / 73 50 E-Mail: stadt@billerbeck.de Internet: www.billerbeck.de


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Bird’s eye view of Billerbeck

Feel free to contact us, we will help you willingly! Tourist-Information Rathaus Markt 1 48727 Billerbeck Germany Phone + 49 (0)25 43/73-73 Telefax + 49 (0) 25 43/73-50 E-Mail: stadt@billerbeck.de Internet: www.billerbeck.de Opening hours in the mornings: Monday – Friday 8.00 – 12.30 o’clock 9.00 – 12.00 o’clock Saturday (May– Sept.) Opening hours in the afternoons: Monday – Wednesday 13.30 – 17.00 o’clock Thursday 13.30 – 18.00 o’clock 14.00 – 17.00 o’clock Friday (May– Sept.)

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