Bicycles rule in studenty MÜNSTER, which, with twice as many bikes as people, is Germany’s most cycle-friendly city. Its history is intertwined with that of its bishopric, the name Münster deriving from the monastery founded at Charlemagne’s behest in 793 AD, while in the twentieth century, Bishop Clemens August von Galen was one of the few prominent clerics to defy Nazi rule. In the Middle Ages Münster was a Hanseatic city; during the Reformation it experienced a brief, bloody tyranny under an extreme Anabaptist sect, but soon returned to the Catholic fold. In 1648, it was the venue for the signature of the Peace of Westphalia; later, during the Napoleonic wars, the city was briefly the capital of the French département of Lippe, before in 1816 becoming capital of Prussian Westphalia.
Built – or rather rebuilt – on a human scale, Münster is easy to explore on foot: defined by the continuous green Promenadenring along the line of the old defences, the Altstadt contains the main sights. Beyond it, you’ll find fresh air and space to picnic around the Aasee lake southwest of the centre, and cool bars and restaurants on the Stadthafen’s waterside strip. Watch your step though, for those cyclists are not to be messed with.