Bad Münstereifel (pop. 19,000) is a historical spa town in the Eifel mountain range. It is one of the rare towns in the Rhineland region to have kept its medieval ramparts intact.
A monastery was founded in the area by the abbot of Prüm around 830. In 844, Pope Sergius II gave the abbot the relics of St. Chrysanthus and Daria, a martyred Roman couple.
The medieval town developed around the monastery in the following centuries. In the 12th century, the place was known as Monasterium in Eiflia, which was later germanised as "Münster in Eifel", then "Münstereifel". The "Bad" ("bath" in German) was added in the 20th century when it became a spa town.
In 1300, the Count of Jülich annexed the town to his territory and built a castle and defend it. The seat of the cathedral of Eifel was moved to Münstereifel in 1356. The town earned its livelihood from the wool industry, tanneries and breweries.
In 1600, the Jesuits arrived to combat the Protestant Reformation, and set up a school, the St. Michael's College, in 1625. The Capuchin monks established a linen manufacture near the monastery in 1618.
The French Revolutionaries occupied the region in 1794. In the early 1800's, Napoleon secularised the monasteries, leaving about 100 priests, monks and nuns "out of work". In 1815, the region became a Prussian province. Having lost its religious and political importance, the town became backwater, which saved it from the architectural ravages of the industrial revolution.
In 1926, Münstereifel became a spa town. The name was changed to "Bad Münstereifel" in 1976.
The town is small enough to see everything by strolling around it.
The whole town is confined within the 13th-century city walls, which have been remarkably well preserved. Note the main town gates : Werther Tor, Johannistor, Orchheimer Tor, and Heisterbacher Tor.
The castle (known as Burg Bad Münstereifel) was not so lucky, and badly damaged by the troops of King Louis XIV of France in 1689. It now houses a restaurant.
The St. Chrysanthus & Daria Church is the oldest edifice in town. It was rebuilt in 1100 on the site of the monasterial chapel of 830. Its architecture was inspired by the St. Pantaleon Church in Cologne, and is renowned for its Romanesque westwork entrance. The crypt holds the relics of the Christian martyrs Chrysantus and Daria.
The second oldest building is the Romanisches Haus (Romanesque house), constructed in 1167. I was converted into a small museum in n 1912, the Hürten-Heimatmuseum (18th- and 19th-century residential furnishings).
Bad Münstereifel's red Rathaus (town hall, pictured) was presumably completed in 1476, although the oldest parts date from the 14th century. Sold in 1818, it only recovered its administrative role in the 1930's.
Access & Orientation
Bad Münstereifel is located 15km south of Euskirchen and 50km south-west of Cologne, close to the boundary of Rhineland-Palatinate.
Bad Münstereifel can easily accessed by the E29 (A1) motorway from Cologne. Coming from Aachen or Belgium, take the E40 (A4) until Kerpen, change to the E31 (A61) for a dozen km until Weilerswist, then take the E29 (A1) towards Euskirchen.
There is only one train line, from Bonn, of which Bad Münstereifel is the last station. The journey takes 1h10min. You can also take a train from Cologne and change at Euskirchen.
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