The street signs in Soest are all in old German script. This should give you an idea of what kind of town this is. The history link on the Soest website starts the town's timeline at 5500 B.C. I can imagine that things have changed quite a bit since then, but it is certainly easy to appreciate the long history of this town by taking a walk through the circular center.
Timber Framed Houses
Soest is absolutely chock full of old timber framed (Fachwerk style) houses and narrow alleyways (Gassen). The town is also semi-enclosed by a wall. Many European towns were once enclosed by walls, but few still have evidence of these structures, aside from what one can imagine by looking at a map of the old part of the city. The wall here has been maintained, and is even surrounded on the outside by a lovely park with a canal, in moat like style.
From the train station, walk through the tunnel and follow the signs towards the city center. Follow the signs to the left for the tourist information house. It is located next to the Theodor Heuss Park and the Grosser Teich (The Big Pond). The tourist information I received had lots of information about guided tours. This was the first town that I visited where I clearly saw other tourists. The information office had lots of pamphlets and was well staffed for this reason.
The Churches of Soest
Soest has many churches, and they are all located close together inside the city center. The Cathedral museum is only open on the weekends. Please be aware that all the museums in town take a midday break, usually between 12:00 and 15:00 o'clock. Of course, this is a great time to take a break and eat some lunch. There are many restaurants and hotels in Soest, clearly catering to the tourists. The restaurants in the large marketplace have the typical German fare, and there are also a number of bakeries and fast food options in the pedestrian street.
How to Deal with German Script
Personally, I find reading the old German script challenging, so be prepared to stop and ask people if you cannot read the signs. Using the map from the tourist center should be helpful and remember that the "s" looks a lot like an "f" in old German. Here is a pdf that I found on line which could be of use: How to deal with German script
How to get there: The train ride from Dortmund to Soest is under an hour long. Werl is located just two stops before Soest on this regional route. There are also Inter City trains that run to Soest from other major train stations.
Great things: There is a lot to see packed into a relatively small space. This is an ideal day trip. The town is small, but has all the conveniences of a larger German city, with plenty of shopping and many places to eat.
Date of visit: March 10, 2006
Soest website: www.soest.de
Go to "Stadtportrait - Soest in 5 Minuten" to get some English language information on the city.