Winding streets, gentle rolling hills, a bunch of timber framed houses and St. George, the dragon slayer all comprise a little bit of Hattingen. The old houses are truly impressive and this is one of the most charming places I have seen in Nordrhein Westfalen.
But where was the first open-air urinal in town? Where is the smallest timber-framed house? And where was the church in the bar? These important questions (and more) are asked by the 30 tourist signs situated all around the city center in Hattingen.
Your First Stop
From the train station. . well, there are two, but they are relatively close together, so don’t get upset if you get the wrong one. From the Hattingen (Mitte) train station; walk up and over the tracks and back down to the tourist office, which is an octagonal shaped building that you can’t miss. Here you can pick up your town maps and information.
Eating Well in Hattingen
To be perfectly honest, I visited Hattingen at the beginning of the Christmas market season, making the town all that more charming. Still, I resisted the temptations of roasted nuts, mulled wine and delicious fried things and sat myself down at a café for some grub. I chose Adele’s Café on Steinhagen Street. This place just upped the cuteness quotient. Lacy everything and an abundant collection of teapots make this joint a favourite attraction for the elderly crowd. But the menu has a bit of everything and breakfast foodstuffs are served until 15:00 o’clock. This satisfies my sweet tooth to no end. Also a great place to eat to avoid the omnipresent cigarette smoke of Germany.
There were tons of other restaurants and cafes, including a chocolatier located in the Obermarkt.
The most obvious thing about Hattingen is the beautiful old Fachwerkhäuser (the timber-framed houses). The signs indicate that over 60 additional houses were lost during WWII. But there are still quite a few that date back to the 1400 and 1500s. Walk down Kirchstraße to see a virtual timeline of houses, with a modern example also present.
St. George Church is located in Kirchplatz. Please observe the opening times, as a midday siesta is planned when the doors are closed. Inside the church is all white, blue and gold with stars on the ceiling. But the neatest thing about St. George is the area around it. There are many cool old gravestones immediately surrounding the church. And there are several tiny pathways that lead between the Kirchplatz and the surrounding streets. The houses encapsulating the church have historical significance, as they were the candle makers for the church. The old Latin school is also located here.
Ok, Where Was This Church in the Bar?
The other big church in town was the Johanniskirche, but today only the tower is left standing, which is referred to as the Glockenturm. The church was too badly damaged for a complete repair after WWII, so only the tower was restored. In earlier times there was a “Wienhaus” at this site, answering the question for us about the bar inside the church. I am told that “Wien” is possibly a corruption of the modern word, “Wein”, which means wine in English.
City wall and Moat
The city wall still stands on the northeast side of town. Start on at the intersection of Langenbergerstraße and Grabenstraße near the anatomically correct “Iron men” statues and make your way around the side of the city. All around the city, the old city gates are visible and often marked with a sign. The Steinhagen/Steinhagentor is the most modern of the old gates and is remodelled with rusted steel and sandstone architecture. Towards the northern end of Grabenstraße is the moat, which is now an attractive and boggy park. The signs indicate that the moat was used more for flood control rather than keeping out the riff raff.
Colorful City Hall
The old city hall is located right in the Untermarkt. The building is quite colorful and has a unique passageway in the ground floor, which you can walk through. Here, one sees handsome old doors and a glassed in art gallery. The windows of the city hall were made up as an Advents calendar as I was there, adding to the color of the building.
Hattingen Comes with Extras
Hattingen has. . . is the town slogan. This city has a lot of history, which is well explained through the 30 tourist shields, which are only in German. But without a word of German, it would be easy to appreciate this place for its charming landscape and twisty streets, which are super fun to navigate. Plus, the website shows additional attractions right outside of the old city center which look amazing: the Haus Custodis on the hillside, the Westfälisches Industriemuseum Henrichshütte Hattingen, the Wasserburg Haus Kemnade with its collection of musical instruments, and the Isenburg ruins from 1200 – 1225 all seem like worthy tourist attractions which are on my list of places to check out and add to this page.
How to get there: Regional trains from Essen leave 3 times an hour. Both Hattingen train stations get you into the city, but try to use the Hattingen (Mitte) stop to visit the city center.
Great things: Adorable city nestled into the hillside with lots to see and learn.
Date of visit: November 27, 2006
Hattingen website: www.hattingen.de