Soest is a city with around 50,000 inhabitants in the region North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, 50 km east of Dortmund.
Soest was first mentioned in a document dating from 836, so it is about 400 years older than almost all Central European cities. It was located on the Hellweg, an important medieval trade route, crossing Westphalia in a west-east direction. Soest's town charter, noted on cowhides, was a model for the municipal laws of about 70 other towns in Germany.
During the Middle Ages, Soest became one of the most important and prosperous trade places in Central Europe and a principal member of the Hanseatic League. The town's confident citizenry even tried to win their independence from the Archbishops of Cologne. This led to a five-year feud (Soester Fehde), during which an imperial ban was put on the town. The conflict ended with Soest becoming part of the Duchy of Kleve-Mark and receiving far-reaching privileges.
Even today, 2/3 of the city's Medieval wall still exists, enough for you to circle the city. The architectural ensemble of the Old Town, built from green sandstone, is unique in the world. In addition to the 600 half-timbered houses, the walls and churches made of this material shape the picturesque back-drop of the 50,000-inhabitant city.
The historically most important churches, the cathedrals St. Patrokli and St. Maria zur Wiese, were also built from green sandstone. The mighty tower of the cathedral St. Patrokli, a beautiful Roman church tower, is a monument of European standing regarding the history of tower construction. The late-gothic hall church St. Maria zur Wiese, dating back to 1313, is culturally and historically the little sister of the Cologne cathedral and comprises one of the few permanent cathedral building sites in Germany. Inside is a curiosity, the famous painting "Westphalian Last Supper", with Jesus at the communion table with his disciples.
Under Prussian rule, Soest was made a county seat and major railway station, but unlike most cities in the nearby Ruhr region, never developed major industries or population growth. The upside of this development (or rather lack thereof) is that the medieval townscape is mostly preserved and was not replaced by modern buildings.
Soest was an important motif of German Impressionism and Expressionism, being "still quite a medieval city, a splendid nest," as Christian Rohlfs enthusiastically wrote in 1904. In the 10s and 20s of the 20th century, the city was home to an artists' colony. Its most important members were Wilhelm Morgner, Eberhard Viegener and Arnold Topp. Famous artists such as Otto Modersohn, Karl Schmidt-Rotluff and Christian Rohlfs often joined the local artist group.
In addition to the painters, also Bruno Paul - a pioneer of modern architecture and teacher of, inter alia, Mies van der Rohe - had worked in Soest several times by creating three city villas there between 1928 and 1931. He was also a prominent cartoonist of the satirical magazine Simplicissimus.
By planeThe closest airport is Dortmund (40 minutes by bus and train; DTM). A major airport with more international connections is in Düsseldorf (2 hours by train; DUS).
By trainReaching Soest by train is easy, and the is very close to the old town. Intercity trains from Weimar and Düsseldorf call several times per day; once a day, there is a direct link from Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. There are half-hourly regional trains from Hamm and Paderborn, hourly from Dortmund. Every two hours a regional train arrives from Cologne, Düsseldorf, Duisburg and Essen.
By carSoest is on the Autobahn A 44 (Dortmund – Kassel).
The old town is very compact (1.2 km from one end to the opposite). It is advisable to leave the car behind and walk, given the narrow lanes and many pedestrian zones.
The Regionalverkehr Ruhr-Lippe GmbH (RLG) operates eight local bus lines within the town (all of them connect to each other in front of the train station) and eleven regional bus lines that pass through Soest.
Town hallOne of the few Baroque buildings in Soest is the town hall (1713-1716) with its nine-arched hall on the west side. The patron saint of the city, St. Patroclus, sits enthroned above this archway. At the back of the Baroque building is the newer part of the town hall, which used to house a gymnasium. The entire building complex encloses a green inner courtyard, where events are presented to the public.
phone: +49 2921 6710660The mighty tower of St. Patrokli is also known as the "Tower of Westphalia." The Romanesque building was built as a collegiate church after 965. In the cathedral museum in the westwork, one can admire the important Root Jesse window, depicting the descent of Jesus. Also worth seeing is the apse painting from 1200 in the Marienchor. St. Patrokli is still considered to be the most extensive of its kind in Westphalia. In the Middle Ages, the 77 m high Westwerk used to preserve the armory of the city. Even though St. Patrokli is called a cathedral, it has never been a bishop's church. However, a high-ranking canon of the Cologne cathedral chapter presided over the then college of spiritual canons. The Cathedral Museum is open by appointment.
Museum Wilhelm MorgnerThe Wilhelm Morgner Museum houses temporary art exhibitions and a permanent exhibition of paintings by the well-known Soest expressionist Wilhelm Morgner. His artistic ascent began in 1910-1912, but came to an abrupt end as a result of the First World War. Wilhelm Morgner fell at the age of 26 years at Langemark. However, he left behind a rich life's work, most of which is owned by the city of Soest (about 400 drawings and 56 paintings). The museum also houses the "Schroth Room", a collection of concrete and post-minimal art by the collector Carl-Jürgen Schroth. Designed by the architect Rainer Schell from Wiesbaden and built in 1962, the Morgner House itself is a typical building of the early 1960s and thus one of the youngest architectural monuments of the city of Soest.
St. PetriOnly the pedestrian zone separates St. Patrokli from St. Peter, the "Alden Kerke", the oldest church foundation in Westphalia. The oldest part of the building dates from the 8th century, but can no longer be identified. The chancel dates from 1277 and is of Gothic origin, while the spire carries typical Baroque features. The emperor's loft from 1200 in the nave is testimony to important guests who used to stay in Soest in the past.
Great Pond and Pond MillTo get to the "Great Pond", you cross the Theodor Heuss Park, a former private garden, that is entirely enclosed by a wall built from green sandstone. On the other side this wall is the "Pond Mill" that dates back to the 13th century. The adjacent "Great Pond" never freezes in winter, as it is fed by countless springs. Diagonally opposite the Pond Mill, on the other side of the pond, there is a replica of the "seesaw". This is a punishment instrument painted yellow -the medieval colour of digrace and dishonour- from which criminal offenders were tipped into the pond for misdemeanours.
St. Maria zur WieseIn the north of the old town,the towers of St. Maria zur Wiese (Wiesenkirche), one of the most beautiful late Gothic hall churches in Germany from 1313, rise up into the sky. The towers, however, were not completed until 1882. In addition to important panel paintings from the 14th and 16h centuries, St.Maria zur Wiese houses the "Westphalian Supper" window on the north portal. This painting, created around 1500 by an unknown artist, is particularly fascinating, as it shows Jesus at the sacrament with his disciples. However, here are ham, beer and pumpernickel on the table!
Green Sandstone MuseumJust a few steps further north along the Walburgerstraße is the pretty Soest Green Sandstone Museum. Here you can obtain accurate information about the history of Soest's "trademark" green sandstone on the basis of numerous information boards and exhibits. For example, one learns what role the green sandstone played in art history and economic life in the Soester Börde. But it also shows workpieces and stone fragments of no longer existing sacred and farm buildings. Permanent reference to the present: A stone collection, which forms the basis of the current reconstruction work of the Cathedral Building Office at the Wiesenkirche.
St. Maria zur HöheBack via Wiesenstraße and Hohe Gasse you reach St. Maria zur Höhe (Hohnekirche). Built around 1220 it boasts a magnificent ceiling and wall paintings. The Byzantine influence is most evident in the ceiling painting in the main choir, the "Engelreigen" (Circle of Angels).
Osthofen GateThis is the only one of the original ten gates in the town wall that still exists. The new building dates from 1523 - 1526. Inside there is a museum on the history of the town with a unique collection of 25,000 medieval crossbow bolts from around the world.
Town WallDirectly opposite begins the town wall (around 1180), which enclosed a length of formerly 3.8 km 102 acres of old town. Today, two-thirds of the wall has been preserved. On this wall, and also by the forces, before which the outer wall used to run, you can make wonderful walks today and look into some old town gardens.
Old St. Thomä and New St. Thomä"Leaning Tower" is the name of the church of Old St. Thomä, one of the oldest Gothic churches in the city (around 1270). The tower dates back to 1653. A lot of history surrounds its creation. The misalignment results from damage caused by rot in the entablature. Just a few steps further you will find the church of St. Thomas, a former monastery church of the Franciscans (1233), who founded their first monastery here in Westphalia. The former Minorite Church never had a bell tower. The monastery buildings have disappeared today, except for a few remains.
Burghof MuseumIf you now cross the Grandweg, you will reach the Burghof Museum, an old patrician's house (1559), which today displays exhibits on the history of art and the city. There is also a permanent exhibition of copper engravings by Heinrich Aldegrever. Behind the Burghofmuseum is the Romanesque house, one of the oldest houses between the Rhine and Weser from the period around 1200.
Katten TowerFrom the Ulricher Tor you can look out over the Katten Tower (1230), the last surviving defense tower of the former inner town wall.
PaulichurchBetween Ulricherstraße and Paulistraße lies the Paulichurch, which was rebuilt in the middle of the 14th century in the typical Soest church construction of a Romanesque to a Gothic church and contains beautiful stained glass and numerous figure sculptures. It was originally created around 1200. In 1530, the Dominican Father Johann Kelberg delivered the first evangelical sermon. He and his brother Thomas Borchwede were the pioneers of the Soest Reformation movement. Since 2009, the Paulichurch houses Westphalia's first columbarium - an urn burial ground - in a Protestant church. The most striking feature of this columbarium is that the St. Pauli Church not only urn cemetery but at the same time still worship of the Ev. St. Petri-Pauli parish Soest is.
Soester city archiveThe Soester city archive accommodates in the house to the mirror, a former patrician house, the largest medieval documents and document stock of Westphalia, u.a. with the famous old cowhide, the oldest Soest city law (13th century). At the same time, it is the seat of Soest city archeology. A special treasure is the Nequam Book, the "Book of the Good" in 1315. It contains the names of those citizens who were expelled from the community. Gothic miniatures dramatically illustrate the jurisprudence of the time.
January: Soest Winter Beams
March: Soest Pubs Festival
May: Bördetag (festival in the old town)
June: Seesaw in Big pond (medieval tradition: people were punished by seesawing them in the Big pond))
July: Winemakers market
August: Feud of Soest (every 2 years)
September: Börde Farmers Market
October: ProBierBar (beer tasting event)
November: All Saints fair
December: Soest Christmas market
Christmas eve: Gloria Singing
Hotel-Restaurant Pilgrimhausphone: +49 2921 1828address: Jakobistraße 75
Solistaphone: +49 2921 9444066address: Walburgerstraße 8
Lamäng Brasseriephone: +49 2921 767823address: Kungelmarkt 4-6
Aloisiusaddress: Ulricherstraße 23
Brauerei Christphone: +49 2921 15515address: Walburgerstraße 36
Brauhaus Zwiebeladdress: Ulricherstraße 24
Culture house Alter Schlachthofphone: +49 2921 31101address: Ulrichertor 4
Forest-restaurant Steinkistephone: +49 2921 73444address: Körbecker Weg 8, 59494 Soest-Hiddingsen
Paradies im Stadtparkphone: +49 2921 14463address: Stadtpark 1
Hier & Jetzt Restaurant Caféphone: +49 2921 599 1899address: Nötten-Brüder-Wallstraße 21
Brauhaus ZwiebelA local brewery, produces and serves pale, dark and wheat beer.
Konditorei Café Frommephone: +49 2921 2107address: Markt 1
phone: +49 2921 16283address: Kaiser-Friedrich-Platz 2107-bed hostel. Reception is open 08:00 - 20:00. Full and half board available.
City Motelphone: +49 2921 3549052address: Altes Stellwerk 9
phone: +49 2921 3394040address: Werkstraße 8Modern hotel with 52 bedrooms of different standards from basic to suite and 18 boarding house rooms with kitchens. Bufet breakfast €9.90. Check-in uses a self-service terminal.
Hotel Susatophone: +49 2921 37000address: Dasselwall 5
Hotel am Wallphone: +49 2921 35000address: Dasselwall 19
Hanse Hotelphone: +49 2921 70900address: Siegmund-Schultze-Weg 100
Hotel-Restaurant Pilgrimhausphone: +49 2921 1828address: Jakobistraße 75
phone: +49 2921 36220address: Brüderstraße 5020 room hotel in a 17th century building. Buffet breakfast.
Hotel Domhofphone: +49 2921 9810436address: Wiesenstraße 18Also has a restaurant.
Hotel Gellermannphone: +49 2921 5901190address: Konrad-Stecke-Weg 8Also has a restaurant.
Hotel-Restaurant Im Wilden Mannphone: +49 2921 15071address: Markt 11
Im Osterkampphone: +49 2921 15402address: Walburgerstraße 10
MöhneseeThe dam wall was breached during the second World War by RAF bombers in Operation Chastise, resulting in a huge flash flood that killed more than 1,000 people (mostly foreign forced labourers). Nevertheless, the reservoir and its surrounding are a popular recreation area.