Osnabruck, the city of peace
When it comes to surprises in a journey, Osnabruck was a big one for me. This city was a possible stop in my trip as I have family there, and I wanted to visit them. Therefore, whether the city was or wasn’t an interesting tourist point was not important then.
During my 10-hour-bus-trip from Brussels I had the chance to learn a few things about the city. I of course googled it and found out, for instance, that it was founded by Charlemagne in the year 780. Yes, you read it right, in 780! For me, that already was an attractive characteristic…yes, I love history.
I left Brussels North Station quite early of a cold, windy and rainy Monday morning. I arrived to Dortmund in Germany at 13 pm and I had to wait 2 hours for my combination. You know that bus stations here aren’t really a bus station? Well, no like the ones we have in Argentina. Buses just stop outside a rail station or any other spot in the city. And if you are lucky enough to need to wait 2 hours for another bus in a windy cold winter day, well just let me say you would truly miss having a roof above your head.
My cousin was waiting for me at Osnabruck bus station. Although it already was dark and rain was pouring down on us, we decided to walk to his apartment. On the way, bicycles passed us by in real rush and cyclers just ring the bell to let us know they were there but they won’t stop, so you’d better step aside!
He and his wife live in a cozy apartment with many reminders that they come from Argentina. They of course have a mate, and some musical instruments from the North hanging on the walls. We have some mate, talked a lot and wait for his wife to come back from work. They prepared cheese fondue for dinner, and as Germans do (so they said), we ate it with bread and some vegetables. Really nice!!
The next morning I woke up, have breakfast and left the house with a map and lot of instructions about the places I should visit. It was cold and cloudy; anyway, that isn´t strange around here. Wüste, the neighborhood, was quiet. I only came across an old lady with her shopping bag, many cars and various cyclers going at the speed of light! I walked through Rehm street towards the historical centre.
My first sightseeing point: Sankt Katharinenkirche
Saint Catherine (Sankt Katharinenkirche), which according to Wikipedia is the tallest medieval building in Lower Saxony, used to be a Catholic church but around 1543 the reform was introduced and it is since then Lutheran. When I got inside, a lady that was reunited with a group of people came to me. Apparently it was not possible to visit the church at that moment. However, she was really nice and allowed me to look around for a few minutes. Something I learned when travelling is that, in general, people will respond accordingly to your attitude, so if you are nice to them, they will be nice to you.
I continued my walk through lovely stoned streets, I passed by a beautiful statue of a boy in a hobby-horse (got to know its meaning later that day) and finally arrived to the Dom St. Peter.
Saint Peter’s Cathedral
St. Peter is the Roman Catholic Cathedral founded by Charlemagne in the 8th century. However, the building you see today is not the original church from that time. Anyway, it’s worth the visit. Take a look at the columns, the ceiling, the pulpit and the triptic in the altar. Outside, the big building you’ll see next to the Dom is the Theatre. I continued my walk through the old city centre.
The Peace of Westphalia
The Thirty Years’ War ended in Osnabruck, after over 1400 days of negotiations. Apparently, a man in a horse was in charge of delivering the messages between Münster and Osnabruck, where the catholic and protestant ambassadors where. So, every year a hobby-horse parade takes place in order to commemorate it. This is also the reason why I saw this symbol in many places around here. And, yes, of course there’s a place where you can see the documents, portraits of the ambassadors and the room where the Peace of Westphalia was signed, it’s the Rathaus or Old Town Hall. The entrance is free and you shouldn’t miss it.
The Rathaus’ entrance is located in front of the Marketplatz or Market Square. As you would imagine, it used to be the meeting place of merchants in the past. There, apart from the Rathaus, there are other insteresting points you should pay attention to. Right next to the Rathaus you will find Saint Mary’s church (St. Marienkirche), also a Lutheran gothic church which construction dates back to the 13th century. Go inside, even if you are not religious, you will truly enjoy its visit. There you can also see pictures of the state of the church after a bombing during World War II.
Beautiful and colourful houses are located in front of St. Marienkirch. Whe I went closer to them, I observed small plaques on the floor which indicated that in some of them people who was taken by the nazis used to live. I have to mention that the Second War still is there, present in every place I visited in this journey. The stories I once read or watched in movies took a whole other dimension for me.
Well, I must confess that after all that visits and history, I was feeling like just wondering around. The surroundings of Marketplatz are also beautiful. The Library is located in this square and when I passed under the archs I saw a really detailed fountain in Westfalia Peace Square. Also, near there I couldn’t help stare at this pretty houses with inscriptions and drawings in its walls. I advise you to take the time to admire them.
The University and the Ledenhof
As I still had some energy left, on the way back to the appartment I walked to the University. You cannot miss it, it’s a huge yellow building that catch your eyes. The internal yard was crowded with bicycles. The grass was so green that the building seemed even more yellow (if that is possible!). Remember what I told you before about the war? Well, I found a plaque referring to the Gestapo on one of the walls. In front of the University there is a Baroque house greatly conserved, the Ledenhof. It is now the headquarter of the German Foundation for Peace Research.
Finally, I headed back to the appartment, enjoying the walk. I was pleasantly surprised and thankful for this gift the journey had for me.