Located on the right bank of the Ems River, Papenburg invites you to consider Germany’s shipbuilding past — and its future.
Your first stop must be the Visitors Center of the 212-year-old Meyer-Werft shipyard, the largest and last remaining of 23 shipbuilders once based here. Exhibits, films, and an unobstructed view of the covered construction dock will show you how luxury cruise liners, so-called floating hotels, are built.
Adjacent to the yard are buildings of the old shipyard, which have been converted into a cultural center, the Zeitspeicher.
Just nearby is the Municipal Museum, too. You can see here a history of nautical trade in glass, chemicals, oil, cement, and machinery, stretching back to 1675. As you admire the development of floating commerce, you can imagine how prosperous this port has been, and how its trade enriched the surrounding farming communities.
In fact, it is impossible not to notice the sea’s influence everywhere in Papenburg. Reminiscent of shipbuilding in days gone by are the many hotels and restaurants along the town’s canals. When you dine, of course, be sure to sample the local seafood.
Another thing you will certainly notice is how much the local architecture and gardens remind you of neighboring Holland. On the main channel between Mühlplatz and the city park, there is even a Dutch gallery inside a functioning windmill built in 1888. You can purchase its specialty, mill bread, at the gallery store.
One other stop you should make in Papenburg is at the anchor-shaped Town Hall. Located across from St. Anthony’s Church, it will enthrall you with its wood carvings and reliefs, masks and cherubs, in the Flemish baroque style. You will want to tour and take some photos of the two-mast museum ship “Brigg” Friederike moored out front.
Then, if all these seafaring sights make you long to go on a voyage of your own, take a pleasure cruise on the local waterways. Hour-long excursions are offered daily.