Burg Altena


This fairy-tale medieval castle started out as the home of the local counts, then served military purposes under the Prussians before becoming, in 1912, the birthplace of the youth hostel movement. The world’s first hostel, with dark dorms sporting wooden triple bunks, is preserved in the museum. Other galleries illustrate life in the region from the Middle Ages to the Industrial Age. Best of the displays are the historical weapons and armour.

Admission is also good at the non-electrifying Deutsches Drahtmuseum, about 300m downhill, which covers wire and all its uses.

Altena is about 70km southwest of Soest. Getting there from Soest by train (from €19.70) takes 1¾ to two hours and requires one or two changes. Check www.bahn.de for options.

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