Friendliness abounds in this little town. Visit one of the many historic buildings housing bars and restaurants in the marketplace and enjoy an “alt” beer. It’s a dark beer with a light taste that is always served in little glasses. Then, walk around town and enjoy the small town sights.
The Bürgerhaus is located right in front of the church in the marketplace and is a great site, among many, to stop and get some lunch. Inside, the restaurant is decorated with old beer making equipment and pictures of the local kings and queens of Karneval, the Mardi Gras of Germany. Remember to order an Alt beer with lunch. And head upstairs. Across from the ladies room there is a big banquet hall that shows off the fine wooden interior of the house.
St. Peter and Paul Church
The outside of the church is quite beautiful and is complemented by the surrounding architecture. Inside, the wooden pews and spiry tabernacle give the church a true German feeling. The windows are the usual mixture of old and modern, colourful and grey.
The local legend says that St. Suitbertus caught his thumb in the town door back in the Middle Ages. To commemorate his booboo, the people of Ratingen made a “thumbs up” statue, which is situated alongside St. Peter and Paul. The German nickname for the people of Ratingen is, “Dumeklemmer”, which is old German for, “Daumenklemmer”, which then translates to something like, “one who jams his thumb”. The legend goes on to say that all children in Ratingen are destined to be born with flat thumbs.
This tower stands to the east of the city at the juncture of Brunostraße and Wallstraße. This is one of three standing towers around the city ring. Check out the tower and the little park behind it. Then walk down Kornsturmgasse and check out all the little restaurants and bars. This seems like quite the place to spend a Saturday night in Ratingen.
Ratingen has more quality sculpture in its midst. The Verkeshirdenturm, which is really just a statue these days, is located to the side of the park that runs between Oberstraße and the Kirchgasse. The pigs are battling with a bell. Apparently, back in olden days, there were pig herds in the city that were taken out to the forest to rummage for food. On bad weather days, the pigs got to hang out in the tower that used to stand in this very spot.
Walk through the park heading south towards the marketplace and you will come across the second tower, the Dicker Turm, or Thick tower. The park is quite lovely, and the tower is covered in vines when you approach from this angle. Nice!
Haus zum Haus
A little castle surrounded by a moat, this attraction is easily reachable by foot from the town. Just cut down Friedhofstraße – and peak into the highly decorated cemetery on the way. The Haus zum Haus includes a concert hall and a restaurant. There are also trails winding around and through the surrounding park. Expect to be stared at by the ducks and horses all around.
One of the world’s oldest factories, this was the first mechanical cotton spinning works in Europe. It is now called the Rheinisches Industriemuseum. Buy a ticket for the permanent exhibition and get a tour of the place, including a demonstration of how the old wooden machines operated. The special exhibit during my visit was, “Dessous” a collection of historical underwear. It was just as cheeky as it sounds.
How to get there: Take the S6 from Essen, Düsseldorf or Cologne. There are also plenty of bus and subway connections from Düsseldorf. The trains mostly stop at Ratingen Ost and it is advisable to take a bus into the city from here. The bus platform is small, so just look for one of the many buses that travel to Ratingen Mitte, which is only 4-10 minutes away, depending on which bus you take.
Great things: The friendly people and the historical marketplace.
Date of visit: January 9, 2007
Smalltime tip to K. Simang