Münster - City of Peace

The Friedenssaal (Peace Hall) is not the only reminder of the Peace of Westphalia / Virtual visit to the congress city

The signing of the final treaties of the Peace of Westphalia on 24 October 1648 in Münster and Osnabrück marked the first time in the history of Europe that peace had been reached by negotiation. Life in the two cities had been dictated for five years by the negotiations conducted in the envoys' quarters. The population of Münster, totalling 12,000 at the time, was boosted by an additional 10,000 due to the 34 diplomats with a retinue of up to 200 persons and the baggage-train which ministered to their needs. The police are anticipating an even larger number of onlookers wishing to be part of the events when 20 European heads of state visit Münster on 24 October 1998.

The pointers to the peace negotiations of 350 years ago in the current cityscape of Münster create a strong impression. Direct testimony is provided by the buildings reconstructed post-1945 with the help of historical models: the fully preserved Friedenssaal (Peace Hall) of the Rathaus, in which the Peace of Münster was sworn on 15 May 1648, and the Krameramtshaus, which was home to the Netherlands envoys from 1644 to 1648.

Further evidence of the anniversary of the Peace are visibly preserved for posterity in the city. In the cobbles of the inner courtyard of the Rathaus, the observant passer-by will see a scroll under a glass panel. The document is a message of peace composed by young people from Germany and Holland, which was presented to the Mayoress Marion Tüns when Crown Prince Willem Alexander of Holland visited Münster on 15 May 1998. The chestnut tree planted by the Dalai Lama on land formerly used by the military during his visit to the city on 6 June 1998 will also grow into a symbol of peace.

A number of monuments designed with a view to the visitor on foot also draw attention to the Peace of Westphalia: The "Westfälischer Friede-Weg X1648" (Westphalian Peace Route) takes the walker from Osnabrück to Münster, while another unobtrusive and "pedestrian-friendly" reminder of the anniversary is provided by the drain covers in Münster streets bearing the peace logo. The city offers Internet surfers two routes of an entirely different nature.

Links at the web site http://www.muenster.de/friede invite you to pay a virtual visit to the Münster of the peace negotiations (from october 28th) and to follow the route taken by the heads of state across the Domplatz to the Landesmuseum with a web-cam.

The Münster artist Adolf Knüppel has created the "Friedenserde" (peace earth) project jointly with schoolchildren, using soil brought from all over the world. Knüppel has arranged the soil samples in a spiral around a post bearing a sundial in the inner courtyard of the Rathaus. In another project, the artist has added a peace logo and the monograms of the respective envoys to footpath slabs from the cobbles in front of the former envoys' quarters. On 24 October, heads of state will walk on these slabs outside the Landesmuseum on their way to the opening of the Council of Europe exhibition "1648 - War and Peace in Europe", thus creating a link with the diplomats of 1648. After the big day the stone slabs will take up their original positions once again in the cobbles of the footpath.

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© 1998 STADT MÜNSTER - Projektgruppe 1998 in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Presse- und Informationsamt
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