Werl is easily accessible because it is located between the Sauerland, Münsterland, and the Ruhr Area. The Hellweg road runs through the city, as Werl is a part of the fertile Bördelandschaft of the Werl–Unnaer Börde.
Werl was a member of the Hanseatic League in the Middle Ages, and has contained a statue of the Virgin Mary since 1661. Today this relic is located in the Wallfahrtsbasilika, and the Franciscan religious order takes care of it. Due to the Marien pilgrimage, Werl is the third largest pilgrimage destination in Germany.