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  • Writer's pictureChristine Nikander

Road Trip #5

Exploring Büren in Westphalia.

On Tuesday, we got into the electric car and headed approximately 20 km south-west of Paderborn, to a small place called Büren. The sun was shining and the first birds and butterflies of the spring were making their appearance. The seemingly peaceful and remote region of Büren somewhat surprisingly has an incredibly dark history, though.


We started our journey at the Wewelsburg. The Wewelsburg is a Weser Renaissance castle and the only triangular castle in Germany. It was commissioned by Dietrich von Fürstenberg and built from 1603 to 1609. The current castle was built on the site of a number old former fortresses. Parts of two predecessor buildings were integrated into the current construction.

The castle was originally built to serve as a secondary residence for the Prince-Bishops of Paderborn. After changing ownership a number of times, the Wewelsburg came into used of the SS in 1934. Throughout the era of Nazism, the castle became a focal point of SS mythology. Heinrich Himmler planned to expand the castle into a larger complex, which was to serve as the central cult site for the SS. After 1941, further plans were developed to turn the site into the so-called "Centre of the World".

In 1950, the castle was reopened to the public. It has housed a large youth hostel and a museum ever since. The museum has a permanent exhibition titled "Wewelsburg 1933–1945. Place of cult and terror of the SS", which tells the history of the Nazi atrocities committed at the castle and its surroundings. (The museum is however currently closed due to the pandemic.)

Jesuitenkirche & Jesuitenkolleg

From the Wewelsburg, we drove into the city center of Büren to see the Jesuit Church and College. In close proximity to current site of the Jesuit Church and College, there was formerly a castle. The castle belonged to the noble lords von Büren. In 1661, their last descendant, Moritz von Büren, passed away and left his entire fortune to the Jesuit order. In his will, he requested that a college and church be built from the funds. It, however, took over 50 years before the construction of the Jesuit College and Church was begun.

The Jesuit College was built between 1717 and 1728. It was built in the style of the Baroque, by the master masons Gottfried Laurenz Pictorius and Johann Conrad Schlaun. The Jesuit Church (or, officially, the Maria Immaculata Church) was built between 1754 and 1773 in the style of the late Baroque. It was built according to plans by Franz Heinrich Roth and it was commissioned by Clemens August.

The Jesuit Church never functioned as the college church it was intended to be; instead it has always been used as a Catholic Church. The former Jesuit College currently houses a Catholic private school called the “Mauritius Gymnasium”.

Schloß Erpernburg

Our final stop was the Erpernburg Castle, located just outside of Büren. The castle was built between 1712 and 1723. It was built by the master mason Nikolaus Wurmstich and commissioned by Ferdinand Freiherr von und zu Brenken. Five years after the construction was completed, an orangery was built on the garden side of the castle. The baroque orangery was planned by the master mason Daniel Gottlieb Schleich. In 1833, this orangery was converted into a classical garden pavilion. The castle and its surrounding buildings are are still owned by the family von und zu Brenken and they are not open to the public.

I hope you have enjoyed my posts this week. I will be back with more tales from my travels along the Weser River next week!

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