Calling all architecture lovers! Xanten is a place for you. That is, if you like Roman archaeological digs and beautiful Medieval towers. Plan on visiting the APX, Arcahäologischer Park Regionalmuseum Xanten, which is just a 15 minute walk from the city center and come back to walk around the town – literally. The town is enclosed in a wonderful park, and there are attractions to see all the way around.
St. Victor’s Cathedral
This is one of the first cathedrals that I have seen with two altars, one at the front of the church, as per the norm, and one in the middle. There are lots of golden icon panels inside, and some include both paintings and sculpture, giving them an interesting 3D quality. The acoustics inside provide a good echo. The main stage has a large golden icon and a box like silver altar. There are also quite a number of beautiful tapestries closer to the front of the church.
This is the first old windmill that I have seen in action. Below at the base, you will find a kiosk, complete with tables and chairs outside. The windmill straddles the Nordwall, and the surrounding park. Take a look from both sides. Then walk right or left to the Kleve Gate or the Round tower on the north rampart. Both are equally charming.
APX, Arcahäologischer Park Regionalmuseum Xanten
Although the many towers and old houses within the city are great, the APX is absolutely the highlight of the Xanten attractions. This is a real park, with lots of open green spaces. But there also is an entrance fee, like a real amusement park. By far the coolest things inside the park are the Hafentempel, which is a half completed temple with Roman columns, and the Amphitheatre. There are lots of foundations to see, and also old water canals and gravestones.
This is a great place to take children. There is a high educational component, and also enough room for them to run around silly. Activities for kids include a house with Roman games and a huge wooden playground. Adults can find their inner child, especially with a romp through the amphitheatre, where you can let your gladiator fantasies run wild. www.apx.de
The town of Xanten has water pumps everywhere. The original is clearly the Market pump, located in the marketplace. The pumps show up at unexpected places, but give the city a nice decorative theme.
The Gottisches Haus is worth a visit for a bite to eat and a look-see inside, but there are many other places to get a bite. When the weather permits, there is plenty of outside seating for every restaurant. The museum, located across from the cathedral, is closed until sometime in 2008. But there is also a pastry museum located on the Westwall near the tourist office. And if you are travelling in the summer, please check the website ahead of time, because the town has concerts in the big Roman amphitheatre and also a medieval festival in May.
How to get there: From Duisburg, take the once hourly, "Niederrheiner". Xanten is the last stop.
Great things: The towers, windmill and cathedral are all medieval jewels. The Roman archaeological park is fun and educational.
Date of visit: April 11, 2007
Xanten website: www.xanten.de