Bavaria might be Germany’s most visited region, but don’t count out North Rhine-Westphalia when you get a load of places like Marienheide, only about 34 miles (50km) east of Cologne. Not only is it filled with medieval history and novel museums, but offers you the chance to enjoy some great recreational activities within some of the most beautiful countryside.
If you’re not afraid of heights, climb up either one of the two observation towers tucked neatly within the surrounding forest for a great view.
One of the best places to start your trip here in Marienheide is at the Farmhouse Dahl. Built in 1585, it is considered to be one of the oldest farms in all of Westphalia. It also houses a local history museum with exhibits on farming life through the 18th century. Farmhouse Dahl is also a branch museum for nearby Schloss Homburg.
Schloss Homburg isn’t the only castle around these parts. Schloss Gimborn, a former water castle, is only open once per year on the Schloss Celebration. If you’re not lucky enough to see the inside rest assured, the outside is stunning and most definitely worth a snapshot or two.
Marienheide once boasted its own Pilgrimage Church, known as Maria Heimsuchung, where legend tells of a holy picture that was said to perform miracles here at this 15th century church. There’s a special week-long festival for the Maria Heimsuchung running from the first Sunday after July 2nd.
If you love religious art, then Kirche Müllenbach is just perfect for you. This old military church has centuries old bells in the tower and gorgeous ceiling paintings from the days of the Middle Ages.
With all of your history out of the way, rent a bicycle or put on your walking shoes and pack your swimgear. There’s a bunch of walking and cycling trails through the Westphalia countryside and even two artificial lakes. Over at Brucher Dam, the lake offers sailing and surfing. For camping facilities and bird watching, the lake over in Lingesetalsperre is where you’ll want to be.
Running the gamut from art, to history, to unique museums, and old castles; Marienheide is where you’ll want to be!