Ten, hut! Put on your marching boots, your spiked helmet, your epaulettes and come on down to Wesel. Check out the Citadel and the Prussian Museum for a grand military-infused time.
The Prueßen Museum is located right next to the Citadel, near the river and to the south of the city. While the fortress is only a shadow of what it once was, due to de-militarization of the area after WWI, some of the ramparts are still visible and reminiscent of the old forts along the U.S. eastern coast. (In particular, I have Fort Warren on Georges Island and Fort Independence on Castle Island in the Boston Harbor in mind.) There are many maps of the Citadel, including various expansion plans, in the museum, as well as territorial maps of Prussia. Otherwise, uniforms and artwork abound. The museum is completely in German.
Meadows of Weasels
Wesel markets itself as a Hansa city, but the history lesson I received at the Prueßen Museum told me that the city was not a free trading city for very long. The history was dominated by monarchs, the French, and then the Prussians. The website even discusses the name of Wesel, as it relates to the German word Wiese, for meadow. However, the town crest presents 3 weasels, and the German word for weasel is, “die Wiesel”. So, take your word association pick. But frankly, there are no weasels in Wesel, but instead an Esel (donkey). The statue is located right outside the Berliner Tor.
The donkey, the Berliner Tor and the TV tower can all be viewed simultaneously. That’s 3 attractions in one! (See picture above.)
Continue straight down the pedestrian area. The water tower is looming on the left and at the first major street crossing; the Lutheran church can be seen on the right.
The Großer Markt is located directly in front of the Willibrordi Cathedral. The tourist office is also located here. The cathedral is quite beautiful inside, but has particular opening hours. Please be careful that you arrive in time to visit inside. Information on the hours can be found at the link for the city. There is actually a good amount of English information available on the website, just be sure to hit the English button at the top right hand corner of the page.
The Willibrordi cathedral was vastly damaged during WWII, and according to the information I received inside, it wasn’t fully restored until 1990. There is a small exhibit inside showing various pictures of the cathedral in different points in history, including directly after the bombing in 1945. Today, the cathedral has a wonderful wooden ceiling and a great blue and yellow stained glass window at the bottom of the cross, which is the western end of the church.
The Big River
Wesel is located directly on the Rhein. This means that a trip to the Rhein Promenade is a must on a nice day. From the cathedral, walk straight out of the city. This tree lined boulevard takes you right down to the promenade. From the point of contact with the water, there is a path that leads to the right down the waterfront. To the left, is the harbor district with plenty of industrial buildings. Those flat cargo ships are passing each other constantly here. It is fun to sit and watch them motor by. There is even a tower to climb and get a view from above. Check out the old bridge from the far side that crumbles off right before crossing.
Let’s Fly Away
Directly across from this tower is the airfield. There is a path that runs back into the city along the field, and also along the remains of the old bridge. The airfield is no more than a large green field with big brown cows sharing the area, but that gives it an old time appeal. There are several brightly colored small planes parked in the field. The old bridge that straddles this path is now used as airplane hangars or garages. One of the inset arches is even used as a restaurant! I can imagine that if you are lucky, a plane will be taking off or landing here.
The path from the airfield is well marked and brings you back into the inner city by way of the Kornmarkt. There are several restaurants and bars here, with lots of patio seating and a running fountain.
How to get there: Direct regional train connections from Oberhausen. The trip is about 30 minutes and change from there.
Great things: The Rhein promenade, the Citadel and Prussian Museum were the highlights of this city.
Date of visit: October 25, 2006
Wesel website: www.wesel.de