One of the first towns on the banks of the Ems River in North-Rhine Westphalia is Rietberg. It is the remaining namesake of the small and highly successful medieval county that used to exist in this region. It had its own laws and currency (which it minted itself), and it even had its own military!
Today, the historic town center is a testament to the riches of that area, but the once powerful castle has been torn down — leaving only the chapel standing.
In the town itself, there are over 60 restored half-timbered houses among the tiny cobbled streets here dating from the 16th and 17th centuries. Needless to say, it is known locally as The Town Of Beautiful Gables due to the photogenic appearance of these buildings.
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There are even some rare examples of “plank houses” in Rietberg — large halls build for trade that are over two stores high on the outside, but a large empty space inside. Trade was very important here, and so the town was built within the still visible ramparts around its edge. They are most prominent along the banks of the river where it need the most protection — and make for a great evening stroll.
There is certainly a whole host of things to keep you busy in town including a working Schnapps distillery, a fantastic Bread Museum, a welcoming Bible village, several open air swimming pools and decent sized zoological gardens. Not to mention all the small trinket stores and cafes spilling out onto the streets.
Out of town there is yet more. Maybe you want to hire a canoe and power your way down the Ems, or perhaps you want to head off to the nature reserves on the popular ornithological tours? You could take part in the local Rietberger Schützenfest — a shooting match common in this area of the country.
If you want a real outdoor adventure, you could wander across the unusual sandy Emssandebene in the south of the Teutoburg Forest for a whole days adventure.