The village Uelsen and the Municipality Uelsen

Uelsen is located in the County of Bentheim (Grafschaft Bentheim) in the north-western part of Germany. The municipal district of Uelsen touches the Dutch border in the West and South-west. Nearly 5000 people live in Uelsen. Twice as many live in the municipality district. Since 1970 the village is officially recognized as a recreational location. The municipality Uelsen now integrates seven smaller places that were independent until 1974. Every days life is characterized by agriculture, small and medium-size business and increasingly also by tourism. The vacation area at Uelsen which was set up in the sixties, certainly initiated the growing success in tourism. For years, families from the German Ruhrgebiet area and from the Netherlands use to come to rest and relax in their cottages or vacation homes at the vacation area.

--  Uelsen in short  --


The nice thing with Uelsen is that nothing really exciting seems to happen. Who wants to get excited? Nevertheless, Uelsen is far from being a sleepy village. It stimulates rather than excites. Next to our guests, the local citizens attach great importance to this fact. Uelsen hosts a beautiful outdoor swimming bath, indoor swimming, covered and outdoor tennis courts, two horse riding center as well as sports grounds and gyms. In addition there are extensive cycle tracks, hiking tracks and special horse riding tracks.

The infrastructure is good. There are small shops and craft businesses with a rustic character, but there are also branches of wellknown food stores. In the village you will find banks, doctors, dentists, tax advisers, lawyers and notaries.

Kirchturm ev. ref. Kirche ev. ref. Kirche Uelsen has been listed in old documents since 1131. It used to be an important religious place already around 700 in the area of the present state Lower-Saxony. Archaeological excavations indicate that the settlement "between the ring of brown hills" is much older. A far-reaching symbol of the christianization of the borderland is the Reformed Church. It was built from Bentheim sandstone in the 12th century. In the year 1683 a flash of lightning destroyed the upper part of the steeple. It had been 86 m (282 ft) before and remained at a height of 52 m (164 ft) until today. Now and then voices of some citizens can be heard, who would like to see the steeple back at its former height. These thoughts are regardless of religious denomination and refer to the steeple as famous landmark and symbol of the village. The reason is that some citizens just want to have a view of the steeple from at least one window of their home. Currently this becomes more and more complicated as Uelsen extends quite rapidly.

[ Old town hall with peace-oak ]

The old town hall is located next to the Reformed Church. It has lost its original function decades ago. Today it hosts the tourist office and a small historical exhibition. The completion of the town hall in 1649 was made affordable through a donation by Johann Niehoff. Johann Niehoff is a well-known son of Uelsen. He used to be an adventurer and seafarer, sailing the oceans on behalf of the (pre-)dutch trading company VOC (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie). His father, originating from Zwolle, was mayor of Uelsen. Johann Niehoff wrote a book about his adventures. He got lost on Madagascar in 1672. See also Wikipedia (English).


Close to the church and the old town hall, the "Pikmäijer" statue can be found. The statue has been placed in remembrance of the "Hollandgänger" in the 17th and 18th century. The Hollandgänger (literally: Holland walkers), which were called "Pikmäijer" by the locals, were a sort of cross-border commuters. They sought to escape the economical situation in the county of Bentheim, the neighbouring Emsland or in the region at Vechta-Osnabrück. The travel route lead them through Uelsen to the Netherlands, where they got work as peat cutters or agricultural labourers. Later the same route was used by drapers and fabrics traders. It seems quite possible that the founders of C&A, the drapers Clemens and August Brenninkmeyer from Mettingen (District of Steinfurt) passed Uelsen while tradeding with the Dutch.

The municipality Uelsen

The municipality Uelsen ( consists of the seven places Wilsum, Gölenkamp, Halle, Getelo, Itterbeck, Wielen und Uelsen. The locations Höcklenkamp and Lemke have been incorporated to Uelsen.


Reformed Church Wilsum

Occupying 47 square kilometres, Wilsum is the largest community within the municipality Uelsen. Wilsum has a population of 1500. There is a Reformed Church and a Chistian Reformed Church. The parishes have a formative influence on the clerical life at Wilsum. In the hills of Wilsum (Wilsumer Berge) a recreational area has been set up. Many Dutch spend their holidays there. Remnants of the natural wilderness area can be found in the nature reserve "Wilsumer Moor".

Wilsum has got its own internet page at:



Gölenkamp is the site of the discovery of the "Golden Cup". In 1840 the farmer Pamann found the precious cup, which is said to be the oldest receptacle ever found in Central Europe. The cup once served as drinking vessel, the place of discovery "Spöllberg" in Gölenkamp was a Germanic place of worship at that time. From the Spöllberg (elevation 53.2 m) you have a panoramic view over the county of Bentheim up to the city of Lingen. Gölenkamp has a size of 20 square kilometres and hosts 650 inhabitants.


Observation Tower

Halle lies south of Uelsen. With a size of 21 square kilometres the community has 700 inhabitants. The former community Hardingen has been integrated into Halle in 1974. The water mill 'Nordbeck' is worth to be visited. In the community part Hesingen is a landscape of prehistoric interest: the so called "burial mound heathland" (Hügelgräberheide). Hesingen is known as the "Lower-county Switzerland" and is a popular trip destination for locals and tourists. In April 1999 an observation tower has been installed there on top of the Lönsberg (elevation 87 m) with a platform 22 m above the ground. From there, you enjoy a great panoramic view. The church steeples of Vasse (NL) and Uelsen can be seen even with foggy weather (although the Uelsen steeple could just be somewhat higher according to some viewers), on a bright day the cities Nordhorn, Lingen and the castle in Bad Bentheim can be seen.

Here you may take a look over the county side:  Scenic View (69 KB).


The Getelo community is 20 square kilometres in size. The community in the south-west of the municipality Uelsen has 650 inhabitants and extents along the German-Dutch border. Dutch neighbouring villages are Mander and Vasse which belong to the community Tubbergen (NL). The holiday park "Grafschaft Bentheim" is located at Getelo. With the "Söven Pöllen", Getelo is provided with a prehistorical site of seven burial mounds. Getelo is also the place of the most modern and capable waterworks in the lower county. The once rough-terrained moorlands at Getelo and Itterbeck have been drained in the fifties of the past century. Where peat has been cutted before, now farmland and meadows have spread.


Giant of Egge

Itterbeck has gone through a change from a small farming village to a mixed-structured community with medium sized businesses and spacious residential areas. Having 1700 inhabitants, Itterbeck is the second largest community (41 square kilometres). The name is derived from the small creek Itter. The community lies inbetween woodlands and heathland. The Reformed Church in the community-part Egge is being served by the parish of Uelsen. A special attraction is the "Giant of Egge", a boulder of several tons weight which has been left here by the glaciers of the ice age.

Itterbeck has got its own internet page at


What is special to the community Wielen is the fact, that almost the half of the 600 inhabitants are of Dutch nationality. From time immemorial there are close contacts across the border, especially with regard to family affairs. Several pathes and ways cross the "green border". Many schoolchildren visit schools on the other side of the border. Also in a clerical manner many of the inhabitants are oriented towards the Netherlands.





Created: Mar 15, 2001, last modification: Jul 9, 2005