print of a facsimile from Matthaeus Merian from the
book "Topograhia Germaniae”. The view of
Dülmen is from the middle of the 17th Century.
(Enlargement by a click on the mouse)
The town of Dülmen, reached by the A 43 motorway from Münster
to Recklinghausen, is the biggest in the Coesfeld district. The
very favourable traffic situation makes the town a connecting link
between Münsterland and the Ruhrgebiet. The old town towers
are the last witnesses of a century-old history which experienced
a deep cut in the total destruction in March 1945 at the end of
A parish probably already existed in the year of the death of Saint
Liudger, 809, the first bishop of Münster. In 1311 Dülmen
received the rights of a town from Bishop Ludwig II. Besides self-administration
among these rights were market and wall rights.
In 1323 the parish church St. Viktor was elevated to a seminary
church. The capital paid for a dean in charge of twelve canons.
In 1623 during the Thirty Years War Dülmen had to open its
gates to the troops of the Kaiser. The town rule since 1311 thus
came to an end. In 1629 a great fire burnt down almost a third of
the town and damaged the town walls and gates. Only after a long,
hard period of occupation did the army from Hesse finally leave
During the Seven Year War the town lost the fortification ring.
The French commander had the major part of the old town walls pulled
down. The towers remaining today come from the time around 1500.
With the annexation of Münsterland in the French empire in
1811, Napoleon cancelled the capital to St. Viktor and the Augustinian
monastery Agnetenberg in Dülmen. As a new ruler the Prussian
king transferred Dülmen to the Coesfeld district in the Westphalian
In 1878, as Bernhard Thonemann became resident in Dülmen by
his marriage, the town had about 5000 inhabitants. Bernhard died
in 1926. In those 48 years, the town increased its population from
about 4266 to 9266. Today, 1994, Dülmen has about 43000 inhabitants.
The town was not able to maintain its historical face due to the
severe war damage. However an unusually powerful reconstruction,
which was able to connect traditional structures and values with
modern requirements harmoniously, had the town rebuilt on the old
place with a new face. The consciousness of home, the hard work
and the reliability of the Münsterland people provided the
guarantee in the reconstruction for a continual upwards development.
Truly, there are not many more regions in our great Germany which
distinguish themselves by a clear structure with clear contours,
have an uninterrupted relationship to their history and traditions,
where we meet the pretty villages and towns people with straight
and honest characters and handed down values; a country with green
meadows, interspersed with moors, with relieving hedges, also shaded
woods, many strong, sedate, partly gnarled oaks, which surround
the farmhouses decorated with flowers and particularly the castles
with moats and last but not least a species which does not exist
in any other part of Europe: wild horses in Merfelder Bruch; a flat
and broad land with its own appeal, which Goethe called simply "the
grandeur of the plain”. Quality of life which so many people
appreciate so very much.