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Alternate uses: See Munster (disambiguation), Minster (cathedral)

Münster is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located in the northern part of the state and is considered to be the cultural centre of the Westphalia region. Population: 265,100 (1999).

The name derives from the Latin monasterium (monastery) and refers to the founding of the bishopric of Münster by Charlemagne (793). In the Middle Ages Münster was a leading member of the Hanseatic League. In 1534 the Anabaptists took power in Münster and founded a democratic proto-socialistic state. The town was recaptured in 1535; the Anabaptist were tortured to death, their dead bodies were exhibited in cages, which hung from St. Lamberti's steeple.

The signing of the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 at Münster and Osnabrück guaranteed the future of the prince-bishop and the diocese; the area was to be exclusively Roman Catholic.

In 1802 Münster was conquered by Prussia during the Napoleonic Wars. It became the capital of the Prussian province of Westphalia.

In World War II Münster was completely destroyed by Allied air raids, but it was rebuilt after the war in an ancient style.


  • Prinzipialmarkt, marketplace in the city centre, with the town hall (14th century)
  • Saint Paulus Cathedral, 13th century, with an astronomical clock of 1540
  • Saint Lamberti, church (1375); the cages, which once exhibited the Anabaptist, are still hanging from the steeple
  • Castle, built 1767-87 as residence for the bishop

The Westfälische Wilhelms-University of Münster is one of the biggest and oldest universities in Germany.

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