Minden — discover Germany’s Mill District
Founded around 800 AD, the city of Minden is set strategically between Bielefeld and Hanover in a county criss-crossed by rivers and canals and studded with windmills. Its location on the Weser River fostered trade and economic development since the Middle Ages. 40 mills bear witness to Minden’s rich economic past, fetching the county the nickname “Mill District”. Today it is still an important business location with several family-owned company headquarters, also thanks to excellent train and motorway connections.
Things to see and to do
Historical centre — A Jewel of the Weser Renaissance
Thanks to Minden’s economic prosperity in the 16th century, the city is a jewel of the Weser Renaissance, an architectural style characterised by decorated timbered houses and embellished sandstone facades. Examples can be found throughout the city on both former citizen and noble residences.
Minden’s waterway intersection is the second largest water crossing in Germany after the Magdeburg Water Bridge. It is located north of the city centre where the Mittelland Canal passes over the river Weser on a double aqueduct. First constructed between 1911 and 1914, the ‘Schachtschleuse’ abridges an altitude difference of 13 metres. Between the two locks lie the industrial port of Minden and the entrance to the old Weser port. A cruise on the canal and the river is a popular tourist attraction.
Dating back to the 12th century, Fischerstadt (“fishermen’s town”) is one of the city’s oldest places of settlement. The characteristic small half-timbered houses along the banks of the river Weser create an idyllic setting for Sunday strolls.
The old town is centred around the Cathedral of Saints Gorgonius and Peter, a Roman Catholic church that was destroyed in World War II and rebuilt in the 1950s. The High Gothic nave and its large tracery windows are architectural features that inspired a number of other church buildings. Henry the Lion and Matilda of England were married here in 1168.
The Ship Mill
Nestled on the banks of the Weser, the Ship Mill is a picturesque cross between a house boat and a mill. In the 18th century, Minden had a mobile water mill which was used to grind flour. Today’s reconstruction houses a museum informing about the milling trade in Minden-Lübbecke County as well as a restaurant and beer-garden.
The region — journey through the past
The surrounding region of Minden offers a wide range of activities, both for nostalgia and nature lovers. The 40 mills mentioned above are well worth exploring, and one of the top destinations for history buffs is the exhibition mine in Kleinenbremen, 14km from Minden.
Minden Museum Railway
The Minden Museum Railway particularly attracts enthusiasts of old fashioned steam locomotives. Some of the old railway lines are still in operation and can be visited for a day trip.
Emperor William Monument
A particularly iconic sight is the Emperor William Monument in nearby Porta Westfalica, known as the “Gateway to Westphalia”. It was erected to honour the first German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm I, in the 1890s and perched on the extreme eastern end of the Wiehen Hills where it can be spotted from quite a distance. The hilltop offers great views of the Weser valley.
Traces of Minden’s rich history, during which it was once part of the Kingdom of Prussia, are best sought at Wittekind Castle. According to legend, the city got its name from a peace treaty signed in a castle at the banks of the river Weser where the victorious Charlemagne declared to his rival, chieftain Widukind: “This castle shall from henceforth on be “min” (mine) and “din” (yours).” The castle’s walls, dating back over 2,000 years, can still be found today, as well as a romantic reconstruction dating back to 1896.
British-German Town Twinnings
Town twinnings between British and German cities play an important role in promoting cultural exchange. Minden has been twinned with Sutton since 1968.