Imbued with a spirit of joie de vivre, St Wendel in northern Saarland is very cosmopolitan and an extremely popular, lively place to hang out. St Wendel's leisure programme has something for everyone. You can hike through the rich and varied landscape along premium trails, learn about the life and times of St Wendelin, explore the old town with the night watchman or round off a perfect day with live music and good food.
Ever since the seventh century, people from all over Europe have come to pay homage at the tomb of Saint Wendelin located in the eponymous Basilica of St Wendelin, one of Germany's most beautiful late-Gothic hall churches. The saint is still present even today everywhere in his town. By following one of the pilgrim paths, all those seeking solitude, calm and contemplation can explore the places where Wendelin himself lived and worshipped.
But tourists who like to be more active can also find plenty to do in St Wendel. Many challenging premium and themed hiking trails lead through the gentle hilly landscape around the town. The Street of Sculptures with some 40 works of art which fit magnificently into their charming surroundings, rich meadows and pasture land, pristine forests, small lakes and ponds all combine to provide a unique hiking experience. For those who prefer cycling, there are some 200 kilometres of dedicated cycle paths that are well signposted and suitable for tours of varying length for families, amateur cyclists and top athletes alike. The Wendelinus Theme park with its spacious golf course, skate-board park, sports pool, wellness centre and very inviting Nordic walking course is another interesting port of call.
While strolling through the old town, you can immerse yourself in St Wendel's varied past. Famous generals, artists, scholars, and even an ancestor of the Royal House of Windsor have left their mark on this charming little town. City guides and night watchmen will take you on a trip back in time down the centuries and tell you many a tale that the locals only ever used to dare whisper.
St Wendel is an oasis of culinary delight. Gourmets and connoisseurs alike regularly sing the praises of the hearty regional cooking and international specialities and creations devised by award-winning chefs. The afternoons are best spent in the street cafés of the historic old town while in the summer, free open-air concerts will lift your mood until late into the evening.
But that's by no means everything that the town has to offer. We mustn't forget to mention the ever popular modern themed markets such as the Easter Market, the Christmas and medieval market, whose fame has spread far beyond its borders, the exclusive handicraft market and farmers' and winegrowers' markets. High-calibre international sporting events bring many visitors to the town which extends the hand of friendship across the globe. The cultural programme is outstanding and characterised by its enormous variety, offering plenty to suit all age groups and tastes throughout the year - from rock concerts to musicals, cabaret, revues, classical music and theatre.
Nature and culture - it's all in the mix
Nestled twixt France and Luxembourg, the Saarland is located in the south-west of Germany. The ever-changing border has shaped the surrounding countryside over the centuries and created a region unique in its culture. This proximity to the border - especially to France - is evident in the wide range of cultural offerings and reflected in the Saarland's cuisine which is, shall we say, formidable!
Things you must see
The Saarschleife is definitely a must-see! Germany's most beautiful river loop has attracted people down the ages. It comes as no big surprise to learn that the country's fourth tree-top trail has been set up close to this wonder of nature. The trail winds for about 800 metres through the tops of magnificent beech trees, oaks and Douglas firs, reaching a height of 23 metres. Once there, the trail then corkscrews up through the tree canopy, leading to a look-out tower 42 metres in height which provides a breathtaking vista down into the valley of the Saarschleife. The panorama also encompasses the green hills of the Saar-Hunsrück Nature Park nearby, and you can even catch a glimpse of the Vosges mountains on a clear day. A maximum gradient of only 6% also allows wheelchair users, families with baby buggies and those who have difficulties walking to easily manage the 20 metres difference in height along the trail. One of the Saarland's most beautiful areas for hiking stretches out all around the Saarschleife.
The world's most famous industrial monument is located in the Saarland. The Völklingen Steelworks was the first industrial monument to be classed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1994. For years now, the story of the past has been successfully told in a gripping manner and its industrial heritage put into context with the aid of stunning exhibitions.
The Saarland's ceramic industry is also known worldwide and is still very vibrant. The global company that is Villeroy & Boch has been involved in the manufacture of ceramics in the Saarland since 1748 and gives visitors an insight into the history of the company and the story of ceramics.
Nature's refuelling station!
Over 60 top-notch hiking trails - all circular routes - on paths close to nature with magnificent views and excellent signposting! There is also a 1,500-kilometre network of cycle routes, most of which lead through beautiful unspoilt nature or along minor roads to escape everyday traffic. Simply fabulous!
Water sports enthusiasts
The district of Sankt Wendel and Bostalsee or Lake Bostal which covers over one square kilometre enjoy an idyllic setting in the Saar-Hunsrück national park with its low mountain ranges. The lake has plenty of space for those who enjoy spending time by the side of the water, or on and in it. Sandy beaches and grassy meadows invite you to swim, play beach volleyball or build sand castles. Center Parcs on the shores of the Bostalsee with its extremely attractive holiday homes and views of the lake also has a wide range of leisure activities on offer. A wonderful network of hiking and cycle paths stretches out in the lakeside area. A new wellness destination, the Seezeitlodge Hotel and Spa, is opening its doors to the public this July and will provide a very special retreat set in the midst of nature.
City break in Saarbrücken
Baroque buildings still characterize the city scene. Saarbrücken Castle and its associated ensemble of buildings, the Ludwigskirche, Church of St Ludwig, and the St Johanner Markt or market place, form an architecturally fascinating cluster of edifices and are a must-see for every visitor. The Sankt Johanner Markt with its boutiques, pubs, bistros and restaurants is at the very heart of Saarbrücken and is one of the Saarland's most beautiful pedestrian areas. The Saar Steamship Company offers excursions to France - magnifique!
With some 180,000 inhabitants, Saarbrücken is one of Germany's smallest state capitals. However, Saarbrücken can stand tall despite its diminutive size. This charming and lively city on the river Saar offers endless possibilities whether it be culture, nature or recreation that fires your interest, you decide for yourself. With its many museums, theatres, boutiques, pubs and restaurants, Saarbrücken is a vibrant city where visitors can find plenty to keep them entertained.
The delightful city centre, interesting monuments, charming parks and wide selection of concerts, museums and festivals ensure that your stay will be packed with variety. The Saar metropolis is famous for its excellent cuisine, which can be enjoyed by visiting the many restaurants.
Moreover, the capital city of the Saar is set amidst stunning countryside, surrounded by extensive forests, idyllic lakes, meadows and rolling hills that provide countless opportunity to make many different outings on foot or by bike and yet still have the city to enjoy within easy reach.
Baroque beauty in Saarbrücken
While strolling around Saarbrücken, you will be immediately struck by the many Baroque buildings, bearing the hallmark of famous master builder Friedrich Joachim Stengel. Sat high on the rock above the Saar, the vast bulk of Saarbrücken Castle was built by him as was the Ludwigsplatz (Ludwig's Square) with its palaces for the nobility and houses for state officials. The imposing Ludwigskirche, one of Germany's most beautiful Protestant baroque churches, is also well worth a visit. Another sight not to be missed is the restored Basilica of St John which by papal decree should be known as the Basilica Minor.
Saarbrücken is a lively city of culture which can be enjoyed by all lovers of art. The Schlossplatz or Castle Square has no less than four museums, all with unique treasures on display. There is, for example, the Celtic Fürstinnengrab von Reinheim (Tomb of the Princesses of Reinheim) in the Museum of Pre- and Early History which is one of the most famous archaeological finds in the whole of Central Europe. Directly next to the castle, you will discover the Saar Historical Museum where you can marvel at the historic fortifications and canon casemates under the Schlossplatz. The castle's underground fortifications and rooms at up to 14 metres below street level in places can also be inspected.
Saarland joie de vivre
Saarbrücken simply buzzes with life around the St Johanner Markt. The best way to enjoy the lively atmosphere is over a cappuccino or a glass of wine in a cafe or bistro. The proximity to France is reflected in the local's love of good food and drink. The refined, French-inspired cuisine and regional delicacies are a delight for gourmets, and the picturesque narrow streets with small boutiques around the market square mean that there's plenty of opportunity for shopping.
Relax amid the greenery
You can easily get to know the 'green' side of Saarbrücken by taking a walk along the river Saar. We recommend that you head in the direction of Staden, one of Saarbrücken's most beautiful residential areas with its bourgeois villas and park-like gardens from the Wilhelminian era. There are also plenty of beer gardens and play areas along the boulevards where you can enjoy a quiet stroll, take time out and relax. What's known as the Ulanenpavillon is especially popular for an after-work drink. The Franco-German Garden is one of the city's largest green spaces, providing recreation and entertainment for the whole family with its themed gardens and numerous leisure activities.
Wide range of cultural activities in Saarbrücken
Saarbrücken has a wide range of exhibitions and events for lovers of art and culture. Opera and ballet lovers in particular can look forward to performances by the top-class Saarland State Theatre troupe, but there are also numerous festivals and many smaller theatres to enliven the cultural scene. Visitors to the Saar Music Festival, whose theme this year is Bonjour Deutschland, will get to see world-famous artistes. However, there are also other delights, such as the Franco-German Perspectives Theatre Festival, the Max Ophüls Prize Film Festival and the Saarbrücken Jazz Festival to add spice to the cultural mix. Close to Saarbrücken, the Völklinger Hütte Steelworks which is a World Cultural Heritage site makes a terrific day out with its interesting displays. New exhibitions are constantly held against the backdrop of the huge hall that used to house the blast furnace.
Places of interest in Saarbrücken:
A masterpiece of baroque church architecture, a unique baroque group of edifices in the Place Royale style of architecture
Saarbrücken Castle and casemates
Baroque castle with avant-garde glass central atrium, exposed underground bastion and canon casemates
15th century church with baroque tower and dome, stained glass window by Meistermann and tombs of princes
Group of historic museums
Baroque 'ensemble' around the Schlossplatz (Castle Square) with four historic museums
The old bridge built by Karl V in 1546 is one of the town's oldest structures
St Johanner Markt
A focal point for Saarbrücken's locals, Baroque market fountain, quaint little streets, boutiques, cafés and pubs abound around its market square.
Small street with former artisan's and workers' houses, plus Stiefel, Saarbrücken's oldest and only remaining brewery
St Johann's Basilica
Baroque Catholic parish church, Basilica Minor, with magnificent bronze doorway and famous organ
Rathaus St Johann (St Johann's Town Hall)
Built around 1900 in the Gothic style by Georg J von Hauberisser, 54-metre clock-tower, richly decorated festival hall
Bergwerksdirektion (Mining Headquarters)
Built by Gropius and Schmieden in 1880, former headquarters of the Saar Mining Company, now the Europa Galerie shopping centre
Stiftskirche St Arnual (Collegiate Church of St Arnual)
13th century Gothic church in the district of St Arnual, an important architectural monument with tombs of princes, surrounding houses from late Middle Ages.
Saarländisches Staatstheater (State Theatre of the Saarland)
Built in classical style, offering plays, ballet, opera and musical performances
Modern Gallery, Cuba Cultural Centre, Municipal Gallery
Rolling programme of exhibitions