A summary of the
history of Wassenberg and as it is today
Wassenberg can look
back historically to a varied and changing past.
The first traces lead to the palcolithic period. Discoveries
such as hand-ceramic pot-shreds from the neolithic period,
urn graves as well as extensive cemeteries lead us to
believe, that the Wassenberg area was already densely
populated in former times. Roman relics and evidence of
Roman settlements have been established such as the Roman
roads via Orsbeck-Wassenberg-Birgelen-Rothenbach into the
Maas valley as well as from Erkelenz via Myhl to Wassenberg.
The first official mention of Wassenberg was in 1021.Around
1085 when Count Gerhard of Flanders made the castle of
Wassenberg into his dynastic residence. Thus the
pre-conditions for the origins of the town were set out and
it was granted town status in 1273.
In addition to the huge defence tower, which has been
converted into a viewing point, many other parts of the
remaining defence constructions have been restored: the town
wall, defence towers within the walls, delinquents tower
(dungeon) and the Rostor.
The major part of these constructions dates from 1420,
whereas the lower part of the Rostor and the dungeon are
from around 1365.
Other buildings of cultural and historical importance such
as Elsum and Effeld Castles, as well as several churches,
are witnesses of an important past.
The commercial structure too developed diversely. Even in
the Middle Ages Wassenberg became a market town with market
The principle source of income of the inhabitants were
commerce, trade, handicrafts and agriculture. In the 16th
century the cultivation of flax was a wide-spread source of
A colouring matter was grown on the plains of Bruhl, from
which was produced the dye-material for the colouring of
linen. This continued to be used untl the introduction of
anilin colouring. A further source of income was the
manufacture of roofing tiles. This stimulated the economic
life of Wassenberg for many centuries, right up to the
middle of the 19th century. Tile production took place in
the so-called ''Panneschopp'' clay furnaces. These were
located in the area around today's ''Tante Lucie's
Restaurant'', but came to a standstill with the importation
of the French lapped tiles.
From the turn of the century the economic structure has been
characterised by small and medium sized weaving factories as
well as cottage industries. This structure changed with the
introduction of a host of different types of industry and
the industrial estates in Forst was created.
In 1978 a local mining shaft was sunk by the Sophia Jacoba
Company in the Birgelen woods, from where the miners reach
the rich coal fields under Wassenberg.
Apart from commerce, trade and agriculture the economic life
of Wassenberg is complemented by the cultivation of
asparagus and peaches. During the past few years
house-building has been intensified and promoted.Three new
attractive residential areas have been developed. Further
plots are being sold at moderate prices.
Due to its beauty and the diversity of its countryside,
Wassenberg has always attracted many visitors. This is all
the more so as Wassenberg is part of the nature park of
Schwalm-Nette. A total of about 1100 hectares of woods and
heathland are connected by well signed paths, ideal for
walkers. Further attractions are the ''Myhler Schweiz'', the
Rur withs its willow trees and ponds, ''Judenbruch'' and the
well kept parks and gardens in the town itself. An aware
visitor to Wassenberg can enjoy the rich beauty of a varied
Sports grounds, tennis courts and an open air swimming pool
cater for the more active visitor and the ''Effelder Waldsee''
(See the Effeld Site Page) and the lakes around Ophoven
offer a variety of water sports and fishing opportunities.
Around 1085 Court
Gerhard of Flanders made teh castle at Wassenberg, which
originated from an early-medieval defence construction - - a
so called ''Motte'' - his dynastic residence. Most of the
oldest parts of the present castle date from 1420.
The castle is located within the town walls in the NE corner
on a steep slope. The building has an almost square ground
plan, on the highest point of which rises the defence tower,
built in the first half of the 15th century. This is a
four-storied brickwork tower, which now offers a wonderful
panoramic view. Opposite the church on the eastern slope (as
seen fr om''Kirch-strasse'') is the gate tower with its
arched entrance and gothic arches on the inner side. The
upper story and the roof construction date from the 18th
Wassenberg castle is now a hotel and restaurant.