Far from the City

Visitors to Beyenburg slightly to the east of Wuppertal can be forgiven for thinking they are far from the city lights. Here they can find an old monastery surrounded by half-timbered houses, a peaceful lake and sparse deciduous forests lining the hills.

The village with its winding streets lies between forest and meadows in a bend in the River Wupper. Its romantic skyline with the monastery church is reflected in the quiet waters of the reservoir. The imposing, yet graceful-looking church of St. Mary Magdalene, the so-called “Beyenburg Cathedral”, is one of the finest examples of late Gothic architecture in the region. It was built in the 14th century along with the Steinhaus Monastery on the Beyenberg. Standing in the atmospheric monastery courtyard it is extremely difficult to grasp how turbulent its history once was: there were horrifying fires, but also periods of time in which the life of the monastery flourished. The lavish baroque altar and the organ (1693) still bear witness to the times of prosperity.

Beyenburg has been an important stopping point since mediaeval times. It lay exactly in the centre between Cologne and Dortmund, a day’s journey from either, directly along an old military road and a trading route which led on to Magdeburg and the Baltic Sea. Innkeepers did a flourishing trade. Pilgrims on the Way of St. James could be sure of finding safe accommodation in the Steinhaus Monastery.

Beyenburg began to decline in importance at the end of the 18th century. The road were neglected and became bumpy. Travellers now preferred more comfortable alternative routes which had sprung up along the Rivers Rhine and Ruhr.

If you cross the small bridge over the Wupper at Beyenburg Ford and proceed a little way along the banks of the Beyenburg reservoir you will be rewarded with a wonderful view of the village, the monastery and the church on the Beyenberg.