Emden, the capital of the Germany’s Ostfriesland (East Frisia) region, has been a sea-port for over 1200 years. Most Germans know Emden as the city with the ferry to Borkum Island, however Emden is a hidden gem, worth a visit on its own!
The city flourished when the ports of the Netherlands were blocked by the Spaniards in the Eighty Years’ War, many Dutch protestants settled in Emden. From then on, the city became one of Europe’s most important shipping hubs for almost 200 years. It came under protection of the Dutch Republic, and Dutch was the trade language. A major Dutch influence can still be found in this city’s architecture.
The city was badly damaged in the Second World War but the Ratsdelft area is where the remaining part of the old city can be found, including the town-hall, the old seaport and a couple of museum ships.
Emden, like any city with a history, stands out in terms of museums:
The Ostfriesisches Landesmuseum (East Frisian Regional Museum)
This is the most impressive museum in Emden. Located in the fomer Town Hall, it features a lot of info about the city’s rich history, the development of the city, and the Frisian people. Magna Frisia (The Frisian Empire, 650-734) once stretched from Bruges to Bremen. Emden was one of its most important ports, and today still considered the capital of Ostfriesland (East Frisia). The museum also houses a 7th century body that was preserved in the Frisian marshland.
The Landesmuseum’s armory room is really one of a kind, and reminds of the middle ages. The weapons of former times are so well preserved and layed out here, that there’s enough to equip a small army, medieval style.
Once you’re done with all floors, don’t forget to climb the Bell Tower to get a nice view of the city.
Bunker Museum (Bomb Shelter Museum)
The Bunker Museum is the first West-German museum inside a bomb shelter. It features a lot of info about the war period in Emden, the oppression by the Nazi’s as well as the post war times. The museum has 26 rooms, each with a different theme.
The Bunker Museum is open from May until October.
The Kunsthalle, at walking distance from the Old Town, is one of the best Art museums in the area, and housed a lot of paintings from great expressionists like Edvard Munch, Franz Marc and Picasso.
Take a boat tour, or leave the city by boat
You can check out the harbor by taking a nice boat tour that will guide you through the city. You can also leave the city for a visit to Borkum, the largest of the German islands, or take the boat to Delfzijl in the Netherlands and continue by train from there.