In the old mining town of Aldenhoven in North Rhine-Westphalia there’s a perfect blending of old and new, where all things historical meet the modern world. One of the main attractions here is its Blausteinsee (Blue Stone Lake), a recreational lake filled with walking and biking trails.
There are two popular routes along the lake, one is the Water Castle Route that ambles along for 365 km (approx 280 miles). Only the really adventurous would attempt to cycle the entire route, but any stretch of it is just stunning countryside.
The other most popular route is the Historical Path Blaustein which passes around Blaustein Lake through old country villages. Don’t worry about getting lost, the trails are very well marked.
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Aldenhoven really is much older than it seems. The Romans used to come through here on their way towards Cologne and even older Stone Age graves have been found. Archaeologists have even found 6th and 7th century Frankish graves, too.
The beautiful Schloss Dürboslar is a wonderful Late Medieval water castle, which means it had a moat. And, the 17th century tower addition makes the castle look more menacing, but gorgeous nonetheless.
There’s a 13th century manor house in Siersdorf, which has been in ruins since the 16th century and used to have an underground connecting tunnel to the 16th century Catholic Parish Church Johannes der Täufer.
Make sure to stop at the Marienwallfahrt, a 15th century church that used to be a popular pilgrimage site. Of all the medieval sites here in Aldenhoven, it’s the 15th century Old Tower that’s the town’s most famous landmark.
In more modern history and a boon to the local economy was the town’s mining industry. The Miner House Museum takes a look at how mining has changed through the centuries.
A bit on the morbid side, there’s an exhibit of 300 year old skeletons that were discovered in the mines.
Aldenhoven’s mining industry isn’t the town’s only claim to fame. Napoleon’s victories here in 1793 and 1794 will forever immortalized on the Arc de Triumphe and where Aldenhoven in the North Rhine meets the streets of Paris.