Soest Wiesenkirche title image


1,000 years and not a bit old - No matter from which direction you come, the imposing church towers show you the way into a medieval town that has existed for over 1,000 years, but nevertheless does not look at all old. Globally unique, the green sandstone ensemble of Soest old town is a captivating mix of rows of pretty half-timbered houses, romantic lanes and impressive secular buildings. Numerous beer gardens, pubs and cafés invite you to take a pleasant break, while a wide array of themed guided walks enable you to discover the city over and again from different perspectives and at any time of year.

The significance of the town in the Middle Ages can still be seen today from its many churches: St. Petri, perhaps Westphalia’ oldest established church, St. Patrokli with its mighty ‘Tower of Westphalia’, Maria zur Höhe, which houses the only Romanesque ‘Scheibenkreuz’ (a large cross on a circular board) in mainland Europe, and St. Maria zur Wiese, one of Germany’s most beautiful late Gothic hall churches. The town’s silhouette is also characterised by a medieval city wall, which to this day still invites you to take a lovely stroll around the old town.



St. Maria zur Höhe

Situated atop a hill 90 metres high and colloquially also known as the ‘Scorning Church’, this place of worship was built around 1220/1230 in a transitional Romanesque-to-Gothic style. In addition to magnificent murals on the ceilings and walls, the church houses Germany’s only ‘Scheibenkreuz’, a large cross on a circular board, (13th century), which is an extraordinary work of Romanesque art. It originates from Gotland and is evidence of important early international links.

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20-wiesenkirche-003-8361 © Gero Sliwa

St. Maria zur Wiese

Funded by merchants, the ‘Church of Saint Mary at the Meadow’ (start of construction 1313) is one of Germany’s most beautiful late Gothic hall churches. Work on its construction went on for 200 years. In addition to important panel paintings from the 14th and 16th centuries, a particularly fascinating feature is the curious ‘Westphalian Supper’, a stained-glass window depicting Jesus with his disciples at a table, laid out on which is black bread, beer and ham.

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Klepping-Altar 01 01684 © Gero Sliwa

Klepping Altar

Further evidence of early Hanseatic relationships is provided by the famous Klepping Altar in St Peter’s Church (Petrikirche). Made in Antwerp in 1525, it bears the sign of the Lukas Guild that was based there. It got its name from Andreas Klepping, patrician and Soest wholesaler, who funded it. He and his family are portrayed on the lower part of the outer section.

Ebstorfer Weltkarte 01697 © Gero Sliwa

The Ebstorf Map

There is a copy of the Ebstorf map of the world (13th century) in the Soest Burghof Museum. The map is the Middle Ages’ most famous and most comprehensive world map, with Jerusalem at its centre. The original sadly no longer exists. Soest is already shown on this map, as one of a small number of towns of present-day North Rhine-Westphalia.

19-kirmes-010-8251 © Gero Sliwa

Soest All Saints’ Fair

Featuring 400 players and covering an area of 50,000 square metres, the fair is the largest old-town fair in Europe. In the evening in particular, the latest high-tech carousels with their spectacular illuminations produce an historic backdrop within the bright sea of colour. An atmosphere the like of which is not found anywhere else and has thus made the All Saints’ Fair a cult event for all Germans. Its roots date back to what was originally known as the ‘Free Fair’ in the medieval Hanseatic League.

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