With more than 300 historic organs and organ facades from the past six centuries, the Ems-Dollart region (Ostfriesland and the province of Groningen) has more historic organs than anywhere else in the world. Original instruments from the past seven centuries represent the incredible wealth of Dutch, North-German and Westphalian organ building tradition in this region. As early as the second half of the 15th century the region’s churches, monasteries and even small village chapels boasted a vibrant organ culture.
Between Emden and Norden, there are ten original gothic organ instruments. Treasures in this area include the oldest fully-working organ in a gothic case in Northern Europe, which dates back to 1457: the organ in the reformed protestant church in Rysum. The Rysum Organ is believed to have been built by the master organ builder Harmannus from Groningen. Nearly all these historic instruments have been restored in the past 50 years and now sound as they would have originally when new. The refurbishment of these instruments set new worldwide standards in restoration work and organ building, and the East-Frisian peninsula has no fewer than seven full-time organ builders.
Stapelmoor, Jemgum and Weener are three of the five locations that comprise the European Organ Route that links Ostfriesland, Emsland and the province of Groningen, and which also presents this unique organ region in a greater cultural context.