South Westphalia

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South Westphalia is a region in the southern part of Westphalia . This region was not a unified area until the beginning of the 19th century. The name is used today for the southern part of the former Prussian province of Westphalia . However, South Westphalia does not represent an independent or area-identical administrative district such as B. Ostwestfalen-Lippe , is still a metropolitan region.

According to statistics from Landesbetrieb IT.NRW , it is the No. 1 industrial region in North Rhine-Westphalia and, depending on the counting method, the population is between 1.4 million and 1.7 million people.


WDR local time areas with "Südwestfalen" (Studio Siegen , light blue; Reg.-Bez. Arnsberg without the eastern Ruhr area )

The South Westphalia region is not precisely delimited. It includes the Sauerland , Siegerland , Wittgensteiner Land and Hellwegbörden without the Unna district . It thus covers most of the Arnsberg administrative district, but without the Ruhr area . The Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis and Hagen are only sometimes included as they are more closely integrated into the regional division of the Ruhr area. However, this does not necessarily apply to the residents' sense of belonging. To be mentioned here are in particular Breckerfeld or Hagen-Dahl .

Schalksmühle has the highest per capita income in North Rhine-Westphalia and the proportion of income millionaires.

The most populous cities in South Westphalia are Hagen, Siegen , Iserlohn , Lüdenscheid and Arnsberg .

Geography and nature

Typical for South Westphalia: A small to medium-sized city with an industrial park, old town and hilly forest.


Most of South Westphalia is characterized by a low mountain range. The Hellwegbörden are on the northern edge . The five districts of Hochsauerlandkreis , Märkischer Kreis , Olpe , Soest and Siegen-Wittgenstein have an area of ​​around 6200 km² (around three quarters of the Arnsberg district).

South Westphalia has a wealth of forests that cannot be found in this dominance in any other region in Germany. Almost 60 percent of the area in South Westphalia is forested. The district of Siegen-Wittgenstein with 66 percent forest area is the most wooded district in Germany. 65 percent of the South Westphalian forest is privately owned - also a nationwide exception.

The Arnsberger Wald and Sauerland-Rothaargebirge nature parks extend over an area of ​​around 3500 km². From a topographical point of view, South Westphalia extends from the lowlands in the Soest district, the lowest point of which is 65 m above sea level. NHN lies in the lip lowlands, over a low mountain range to the Rothaargebirge in the southeast. There is the Langenberg , which is 843 m above sea level. NHN is the highest mountain in North Rhine-Westphalia. North Rhine-Westphalia's third highest mountain, the Kahle Asten , is also located in South Westphalia.

There are many nature reserves, depending on the landscape.

In Bad Berleburg there is a herd of wild bison, the bison wilderness , which has not existed in Germany for centuries. The species protection project is unique in Germany.

A small part of the Möhne lake at dusk.

Reservoirs and rivers

South Westphalia has the largest dams in North Rhine-Westphalia. The Seilersee or Callerbach- that Möhne , the hen , the Sorpe that Glörtal-, the Bigge that Verse- that Fürwigge- that Obernautal- and Diemeltalsperre save in runoff rich times water in Times of low natural water flow when additional water is released into the Ruhr. The dams thus serve, on the one hand, for flood protection and, on the other hand, for low water enrichment of the Ruhr in dry times. These reservoirs serve as a recreational area and invite you to go hiking, swimming, fishing and staying overnight.

Important rivers are the Ruhr , Sieg , Lenne , Bigge and Möhne .


Until the end of the Holy Roman Empire , the region was divided into several domains. These essentially included the Electoral Cologne Duchy of Westphalia , the County of Mark , the Principality of Nassau-Siegen and the Wittgenstein counties .

There is evidence that Caspar Christian Vogt von Elspe used the term Süderland / Sauerland in 1694.

Vogt von Elspe is an extinct noble family of the Duchy of Westphalia. The last Vogt of Elspe was Gisbert Moritz Konrad until his death in 1800. His universal heiress Anna Luise Gisbertine von Bodelschwingh married Karl Wilhelm Georg von Plettenberg , whereby towns such as Werl and Schwerte passed into the possession of the von Plettenberg family. Von Plettenberg, on the other hand, is a Westphalian prehistoric noble family, which can be safely traced back to the year 1187. The county of Mark bordered the Duchy of Westphalia and is still to be found today in the names Märkischer Kreis and Märkisches Sauerland . The county extended over 3000 km² from Hamm ( Burg Mark ) via Altena to Soest. The Principality of Nassau-Siegen also bordered the Duchy of Westphalia, which split off from the House of Nassau-Dillenburg in 1606 and established the new line of the House of Nassau-Siegen. The Sayn-Wittgenstein family, on the other hand, is a line of former German high nobility. Both are former counties.

In the Congress of Vienna , the region was assigned to the Kingdom of Prussia and, in addition to the Münsterland, East Westphalia-Lippe and the Ruhr area, formed part of the newly founded province of Westphalia . The city of Arnsberg became the seat of the district president and thus one of the three political centers of this province. South Westphalia has been part of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia since 1946 .

Economy and Infrastructure

Hundreds of medium-sized and family-owned companies in various branches of industry, especially in the automotive , electrical engineering , building technology and metal and mechanical engineering sectors , many of them hidden champions , are based in the region. 70% of the German production of switches and sockets, 60% of the sanitary fittings and every second luminaire made in Germany come from South Westphalia.

The share of employees in the manufacturing industry is 47 percent. This is the third highest in Germany and the highest in North Rhine-Westphalia. Other branches of the economy are agriculture and forestry, handicrafts and the service sector (trade, consulting and tourism). With around 6,000 hectares of cultivation area, one of the largest Christmas tree cultures in Germany and Europe is located in South Westphalia.

The largest companies, both in terms of employees and sales, include Gedia , Hueck , Kirchhoff , Kostal , Mubea , OBO Bettermann , Otto Fuchs , SSI Schäfer , Trilux , Viega and Vossloh . Vossloh and Centrotec Sustainable are also listed.

Many of the local companies are owner-managed family businesses, some in the 5th generation (like the Veltins Brewery ) and beyond. The Bosch brewery was founded in 1705 and is the oldest company in Wittgensteiner Land, the metal processing company and fireplace manufacturer Olsberg even looks back on a history of 450 years.

World leader

The local chambers of industry and commerce regularly assess the market leadership of companies in the region based on the criteria of “independence and operational management”, “internationally relevant product / service”, “quantitative or qualitative top 3 in their market”. Currently (as of 2018) there are 153 companies.

Because of this high number and the abundance of forests in South Westphalia, the slogan was: “Behind every tree a world market leader”. The press describes South Westphalia as the "heart chamber of the middle class".

Company in South Westphalia with leading positions in their markets (international)
ABUS August Bremicker Sons Achenbach bush huts ALANOD Aquatherm ASO Albrecht Bäumer Bender & Wirth Behr-Hella Thermocontrol
Berghoff Ferdinand Bilstein BIW insulating materials Brökelmann, hunters and buses Bombardier Transportation BRILEX BSW Berleburger foam factory CASTLE FW Lüling
castle bath Busch & Müller Lights BUSCH CENTROTHERM system technology CONEC electronic components DANGO & DIENENTHAL mechanical engineering DESCH drive technology Dometic
DORMA Aloys F. Dornbracht DST permanent magnet system technology Eibach Industries EJOT Holding EMG automation ERCO Jakob Eschbach
FM-Plast Josef Froehling FROHN Otto Fuchs JD dude Heinrich Georg Gontermann-Peipers Goodrich Lighting Systems
Gottschalk Theodor Gräbener GROHE Federwerke JP Grueber Guntermann & Drunck Harburg-Freudenberger mechanical engineering H&T Marsberg I. + A. Hark orchids
HASCO Hasenclever HBPO TA Heimeier Heicks industrial electronics HELLA KGaA Hueck & Co. Gustav Hensel Hercules machine factory HESS machine factory
HOPPECKE accumulator works Carl Zoellner & Son Wilhelm Humpert Hunold + Knoop Kunststofftechnik HydroPhon plastics technology IDEAL plant C. + E. Jungeblodt Infineon Technologies Infineon Technologies Bipolar
IQfy ITH JOST TSUBAKI CABLE TRAIL A. + E. Keller Brothers Kemper KettenWulf Kettler
KIRCHHOFF Group SERIOUSLY COOK CONTRA system technology Leopold Kostal KRAH corporate holding Küberit Profile Systems Cake master Kusch + Co
Hugo Lahme Lame Werner Langer LINN device construction Märkisches Werk MEDICE Medicines Pütter MeisterWerke Schulte MENNEKES electrical engineering
Franz Miederhoff MK metal foils MPG - Menden Precision Tube MUBEA Tailor Rolled Blanks NEOSID Pemetzrieder Neubauer Automation Noelle-Pepin OBO BETTERMANN
Olsberg Hermann Everken Oventrop Ernst Pennekamp Platzmann springs pmdtechnologies Pöttker pull-out systems Press part QASS
Rudolf Rafflenbeul rbr measurement technology REMBE® GmbH Safety + Control RINK Ritzenhoff Shepherd works Schäffer machine factory Schlüter-Systems
SCHMETZ Schniewindt Schroth Safety Products Rolf Schuett SELVE SKS metaplast Scheffer-Klute SMS group SPAX International
Günther Spelsberg BUDHOUSE SVT Taprogge THIELE ThyssenKrupp Bilstein ThyssenKrupp Rothe Erde Tital
TMT - Tapping Measuring Technology TRACTO TECHNOLOGY Transfluid mechanical engineering TRILUX Albert Turk UMAREX sport weapons Erich Utsch VDM Metals
VETTER crane technology VIEGA Jörg Vogelsang Vossloh Vossloh-Schwabe VSE volume technology Heinrich Wagner Sinto machine factory WaldrichSiegen machine tools
CD Wälzhol WEMA WEPA hygiene products WESTFALIA metal hose technology WHW Walter Hillebrand Casp. Arn. Winkhaus (CAW) Wippermann jr. Wrede industrial holding
Zepter flight technique Zoz

Known products

The Mennekes plug , batteries and charging stations from Hoppecke , doors from ECO Schulte, stockings from Falke , kitchen and electrical appliances from Severin , bathroom and kitchen fittings from Grohe , Dornbracht and Keuco , kitchen towels and toilet paper from WEPA , glasses from Ritzenhoff , Schlösser and Safes from Burg-Wächter , SIKU toy models , Wilesco steam engines , rims and wheels from Borbet , medicines from Medice , office items from Durable , motorcycle clothing from Römer and the beers from Krombacher , Veltins and Warsteiner are some well-known products that are manufactured in cities in South Westphalia and be expelled. Today's typical disposal bins (garbage cans, garbage containers) made of plastic also have their origins in South Westphalia or Iserlohn.

Chambers of Crafts

The South Westphalia Chamber of Crafts is based in Arnsberg. The chamber district includes the Hochsauerlandkreis, the Märkische Kreis, the Olpe district and the Siegen-Wittgenstein district. In total, there are around 11,300 handicraft and craft-like businesses with around 84,000 employees in their area. In contrast, the South Westphalian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is only responsible for Hagen, the Märkisches Kreis and part of the Ennepe-Ruhr district. The Retail Association of South Westphalia is also responsible for the Ennepe-Ruhr district .

Transport links

The A4 , A44 , A45 , A46 and A445 motorways are adjacent to and within South Westphalia .

There is no one large airport, instead the Siegerland commercial airport and the Arnsberg-Menden , Meschede-Schüren , Meinerzhagen and Schmallenberg-Rennefeld airports . In addition, there are the regional airports Paderborn-Lippstadt and Dortmund , as well as the major airports Düsseldorf , Cologne-Bonn and Frankfurt. There are isolated small airfields that are used for glider flights and sightseeing flights over the Sauerland and Siegerland, e.g. B. in Neuenrade-Küntrop , Menden-Barge, Hünsborn or Attendorn-Finnentrop .


After completing their school career, schoolchildren can begin an apprenticeship in one of the numerous companies, craft and catering businesses.

The Iserlohn campus of the UE or BiTS is located directly on the Seilersee.

If you decide to study, the following facilities are available to you:

At the South Westphalia University of Applied Sciences, which is based in Iserlohn and has locations in Hagen, Meschede , Soest and Lüdenscheid, 13,276 students were enrolled in the winter semester of 17/18. Your range of courses is based on engineering, information technology, business and agriculture.

19,350 students were enrolled at the University of Siegen for the winter semester 17/18. It offers a scientific-technical, educational and architectural, philosophical-theological and economic range of courses.

The private University of Applied Sciences UE (formerly BiTS Iserlohn ) is spread over the locations Iserlohn, Berlin and Hamburg and specializes in individual disciplines of business administration, e.g. B. Business Psychology, Digital Business, Media Management, etc.

The Hamm-Lippstadt University of Applied Sciences offers an interdisciplinary canon of courses from business, technical and scientific fields, e. B. Biomedicine, computer visualistics, mechatronics and others.

In addition, there are the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster , the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt a. M. , the Technical University of Dortmund , the FH Dortmund , the Distance University of Hagen and other universities in the Ruhr area, Münsterland and East Westphalia.

Leisure time


In the middle is the entrance to the Balver Cave, Europe's largest open cultural cave and site of various events .

An important custom is the rifle being, which is carried in the individual villages by rifle brotherhoods, music associations and choirs. The shooting festivals in Balve and in the Lürbke deserve special mention. The former, because it takes place in a cave and the latter, because there are more people in the shooting club there than the Lürbke population (ratio in 2013: there are eight shooting members per inhabitant).

The Stünzelfest, which has been taking place in Bad Berleburg since 1833, is an animal show, fair and folk festival with more than 10,000 visitors per year.

In many cities there is a fair every year. E.g. the Wendsche Kärmetze in Wenden (Sauerland) as the largest folk festival in South Westphalia with more than 300,000 visitors per year, the Whitsun Fair in Menden (Sauerland), the All Saints Fair in Soest (which has already taken place 680 times and is the largest in the Guinness Book of Records Downtown fair in Europe) as well as in Brilon the Michaeliskirmes with over 500 years of existence.

Europe's largest hot air balloon competition, the International Montgolfiade, takes place in Warstein .

The city of Werl with the pilgrimage basilica of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary is also the third largest German pilgrimage site .

Castles, palaces and museums

Herdringen Castle, location of various events . Also served as a backdrop for various film recordings until 2008.

Numerous castles, palaces and museums can be found in South Westphalia. These include: Herdringen , Schloss Alme , Schloss Arnsberg , Burg Schnellenberg , Berleburg Castle , Castle Wocklum , pen Cappel , Schloss Eringerfeld that Ginsburg , Castle Hovestadt , Castle Adolf Castle , Castle Junkernhees , Bilstein Castle , Castle Lehnhausen that Stiftsruine Lippstadt, pen Keppel , Castle Neuenhof , Castle Badinghagen , the Siegen more upper castle and lower castle , Schloss Körtlinghausen and Castle Melschede .

Altena Castle stands out because the castle , built in the 12th century, is the first permanent youth hostel in the world since one was built there by Richard Schirrmann in 1914.

Altogether there are 137 castles and palaces in the five districts of South Westphalia (Märkischer Kreis, Hochsauerlandkreis, Siegen-Wittgenstein, Soest and Olpe).

Balve-Wocklum is home to the Luisenhütte, the oldest fully equipped blast furnace in Germany and was classified as a monument of national cultural importance in 2003. In Freudenberger Technology Museum, a collection of historic commercial vehicles is on display, including a steam engine from 1904. In Lüdenscheid related to the Phänomenta the first Science Center NRW. Through their own actions, visitors can grasp and understand fundamental phenomena of physics and technology with their senses.

In Siegen there is the Museum of Contemporary Art and in Erndtebrück there is an air defense bunker, which is still partially used for training purposes. The military area there also houses a museum and a paintball park. In the " Haus Hövener " museum near Brilon there are dinosaur exhibits as well as furniture and accessories that have been preserved in their original form, which means that living culture and life from 1870 to 1910 can be experienced authentically.


Venues for theater performances, concerts and shows are the Siegerlandhalle , the Apollo Theater Siegen , the Sauerland-Theater Arnsberg, the Parktheater Iserlohn, the Sauerlandpark Hemer, the Kulturhaus Lüdenscheid , the Balve Festival , the Wilhelmshöhe Menden as well as the town hall and the culture house " Alter Schlachthof" "in Soest. Musicians, choirs, comedians and theater ensembles perform in these venues.

Fairy tales are also performed for families with children on the open-air stages in Herdringen , Freudenberg and Hallenberg .

Various shows are staged in the Fort-Fun amusement park in Bestwig- Wasserfall and in the Panorama-Park Sauerland Wildpark in Kirchhundem .


Thanks to its abundance of forests and lakes, many outdoor sports can be practiced in South Westphalia, e.g. B. hiking, Nordic walking, cycling and mountain biking, climbing, swimming and sailing. The wild forest Voswinkel should also be mentioned here.

The lakes, such as the Möhnesee or the Sorpesee, are very well developed for tourism and offer extensive accommodation, gastronomy and entertainment options. The Aquamagis leisure pool in Plettenberg is recommended for water lovers.

Since there are also many caves (including Dechenhöhle , Reckenhöhle , Attahöhle and various smaller ones in the Hönnetal ), cave explorations and research should also be mentioned.

Germany's largest New Year's Eve run takes place from Werl to Soest . The distance is 15 km.

The Winterberg ski area with the St. Georg Schanze in the background.

Winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding and bobsleigh and tobogganing are also very popular. The Iserlohn Roosters ice hockey club as well as the bobsleigh run and the ski area in Winterberg deserve special mention . The ski jump and the Willingen ski area are also nearby . A smaller ski area can be found in Wildewiese .

There is also a summer toboggan run, a bike park and the panorama adventure bridge with viewing platforms, a nature adventure trail and so-called fun elements on the bridge itself.

The Balver Optimum , an annual horse show in dressage and show jumping, has been known throughout Germany for 70 years . It has been hosting the German championships in these disciplines since 2011 and until 2025 (as of 2018).

A young sport is Segway polo , which is played by Hemeraner and Balver teams. The Balver Mammuts were German champions, European champions and world champions.

There are also numerous football clubs in the district, association and top leagues, the most famous of which is the former second division club Sportfreunde Siegen .

Regional funding program

On behalf of the Soest District, the Hochsauerland District, the Märkisches Kreis, the Olpe District and the Siegen-Wittgenstein District, the Allensbach Institute for Demoscopy carried out the 2007 South Westphalia study, in which people were asked about quality of life and regional awareness. The above-mentioned circles initially appeared as a working group and from 2007 together under the umbrella of South Westphalia , and in 2006 they applied for the organization of the NRW structural funding program Regionale 2013/2016 and organized the Regionale 2013 . In 2017, the South Westphalia region , the Bergisches Rheinland region with the Oberbergisches Kreis, parts of the Rhein-Sieg district and the Rheinisch-Bergischer Kreis and the Ostwestfalen-Lippe region with the districts of Gütersloh, Herford, Höxter, Lippe, Minden-Lübbecke and Paderborn received as well as the independent city of Bielefeld the contract for the regional 2022/2025.


  • In Nehden and Balve there are dinosaur finds (including teeth )
  • Groups of hunters were already encamped in the Balver cave 100,000 to 40,000 years ago. Therefore the Balver cave is considered the oldest cultural cave in Europe.
  • The Aquamagis leisure pool in Plettenberg was the first in Germany with a looping slide and the first worldwide with a wind slide.
  • The inline skaters of the Samurai Iserlohn are world record holders with inline skater hockey played for 30 hours.
  • The bear forest oak, which is around 650 years old, stands near Niederholzklau . It is a natural monument.


People with supraregional fame and impact who were born in the above-mentioned South Westphalian towns include:


  • Stephan Habscheid, Gero Hoch, Heike Sahm, Volker Stein (eds.): Look at this region! South Westphalia as a case and type. Diagonal. Journal of the University of Siegen, No. 34 . V&R unipress, Siegen 2013, ISBN 978-3-8471-0143-7 .

Web links

Commons : Südwestfalen  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ IHKs von Arnsberg, Hagen, Siegen: South Westphalia in numbers. (PDF) The most important structural data for the South Westphalia region at a glance. September 2017, pp. 2, 3 , accessed on October 27, 2018 .
  2. ^ IHK Arnsberg, Hellweg-Sauerland: "Hidden Champions" uncovered - IHKs present world market leaders from South Westphalia from February 14, 2013, accessed on December 10, 2014
  3. Chambers of Industry and Commerce: List of the 153 world market leaders from South Westphalia. (PDF) Retrieved January 27, 2018 .
  4. Building technology in South Westphalia - the industry. Retrieved January 27, 2018 .
  5. ^ LWL - Christian Krajewski: Südwestfalen - Hidden Champion among the German industrial regions, accessed on December 10, 2014
  6. Südwestfalen Agency: Industrial Region No. 3 in Germany , accessed on August 20, 2017.
  7. South Westphalia - one of the three top industrial regions in Germany. Retrieved January 27, 2018 .
  8. Thomas Fartmann, Steffen fighters, Franz Löffler: Christmas tree cultures in the Hochsauerland. In: The falcon . December 2017, p. 20-23 .
  9. ^ Olsberg GmbH. Retrieved November 5, 2018 .
  10. IHKs Siegen, Arnsberg, Hagen: World market leader and top performance in the industry from South Westphalia. (PDF) A world market leader behind every tree. IHKs Siegen, Arnsberg, Hagen, 2015, pp. 7–168 , accessed on October 29, 2018 .
  11. South Westphalia is the heart of the middle class. Westfalenpost / WAZ, accessed on November 6, 2018 .
  12. History of the company. Retrieved January 27, 2018 .
  13. Locations of the South Westphalia University of Applied Sciences. Retrieved December 11, 2011 .
  14. FH-SWF Our profile. Retrieved October 28, 2018 .
  15. BiTS Iserlohn: BiTS Iserlohn courses. Retrieved October 28, 2018 .
  16. Balver Cave. Retrieved October 28, 2018 .
  17. Michael Blum is the new king in Lürbke. Retrieved October 28, 2018 .
  18. Tournament Community Balve GmbH: The BALVE OPTIMUM internationally. Retrieved October 28, 2018 .
  19. for the Allensbach survey 2007 - Der Südwestfale: The (now) known being , accessed on November 14, 2018.
  20. ^ Archive press releases 2007: Ministry for Building and Transport of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia , accessed on August 20, 2017.
  21. Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe: Südwestfalen - a REGION is growing up by Rudolf Grothues (first published in 2010). Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  22. Archive press releases 2017: Ministry of Transport of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia: Three regions are awarded the contract and receive funding from the State of North Rhine-Westphalia worth millions. Retrieved November 13, 2018 .
  23. New in AquaMagis: First wind slide in the world in Plettenberg. July 5, 2018, accessed November 5, 2018 .