Insider tips on the most beautiful parks and gardens in NRW
Wildlife and sculpture parks, botanical gardens and nature parks are all part of North Rhine-Westphalia's diverse green landscape
In NRW's parks and gardens, visitors encounter wildlife, art, exotic plants and extensive landscapes. Discover your ideal green getaway!
Wildlife parks: tracking down the local fauna
Wildwald Vosswinkel wildlife centre
At the Wildwald Vosswinkel wildlife centre in Arnsberg, Sauerland , visitors can get close to nature and the local fauna in a woodland setting. A lack of fences means that people can roam freely throughout most of the 250-hectare site, making the experience as close to nature as possible. The ani-mals that can be spotted at Wildwald Vosswinkel include roe deer, mouflons, wild boar, red foxes, badgers, eagle owls and martens. Some rare livestock breeds are also kept at the old Haarhof farm, including Shropshire sheep and a variety of pigs, goats, geese and ducks. Visitors who are interested in the park's ecosystem can learn more at the Waldakademie Vosswinkel forest education centre.
Dülmen Ponies in Merfeld Marsh
A very different kind of wildlife park can be found in Merfeld Marsh a few kilometres to the west of Dülmen in Münsterland: this 400-hectare reservation is home not just to red deer, roe deer and sheep, but also the last remaining herd of wild horses in continental Europe. Around 400 Dülmen Ponies roam Merfeld Marsh, which has been declared a nature reserve. From spring to autumn visitors can watch the ponies as they peacefully graze in the park. The last Saturday in May is always a spectacular event: the herd is rounded up and the young stallions are separated and subsequently sold at auction.
Where nature meets art: sculpture parks, etc.
Immanuel-Kant-Park at the Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg
North Rhine-Westphalia's art treasures are not just found in museums, you can discover other gems by visiting the surrounding gardens: part of the sculpture exhibition at the Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg is displayed in the surrounding Immanuel-Kant-Park. Around 40 sculptures are on perma-nent show in the park grounds, with more added during temporary exhibitions.
Stadtpark (Municipal Park) at the Museum Quadrat in Bottrop
The Stadtpark (Municipal Park) at the Museum Quadrat in Bottrop is also worth seeing. A sculpture park surrounds the museum of prehistory and local history, and entry is free. The sculptures exhibited include works by Max Bill and Walter Dexel.
Slag heap art in the Ruhr region
A little effort is required to experience the slag heap art of the Ruhr region: visitors first have to climb the great heaps of coal mining slag, now land-marks of the Ruhr region. At the top, climbers will find sculptures, landscape art and landmarks by artists including Richard Serra.
Museum Insel Hombroich in Neuss
The Museum Insel Hombroich in Neuss is a unique attraction in the Lower Rhine region. The amazing ensemble of art on show in small exhibition pavil-ions includes sculptures visitors can walk on, all in a park landscape charac-terised by floodplains.
Skulpturenpark Waldfrieden (Waldfrieden Sculpture Park) in Wuppertal
Skulpturenpark Waldfrieden (Waldfrieden Sculpture Park) is an enchanting sculpture park established by the British sculptor Tony Cragg in Wuppertal. His amorphous works look particularly impressive as the natural light plays amid the oak, beech and chestnut trees. Sculptures by other artists are also regularly displayed in the park.
Waldskulpturenweg Wittgenstein-Sauerland (Wittgenstein-Sauerland Wood Sculpture Path)
Those who like to combine hiking and art will be interested in the unique Waldskulpturenweg Wittgenstein-Sauerland (Wittgenstein-Sauerland Wood Sculpture Path). The 23-kilometre route across the Rothaarkamm ridge re-veals a series of sculptures, including conceptual art by Jochen Gerz and a huge golden egg by Magdalena Jetelová.
Skulpturenpark Köln sculpture park, Cologne
A rotating ensemble of major contemporary sculpture can be viewed in Skulpturenpark Köln sculpture park in Cologne. The exhibits are rearranged and replaced every two years.
Sculptures around the Aasee, Münster
The city of Münster prefers a longer timeframe: traces of the exhibition are permanently visible, however, which is why a walk around the Aasee is worthwhile - many exhibits from the sculpture festival continue to dominate the city's landscape around the lake. The next edition of the festival of sculpture will be held in 2017.
Emscherkunst art exhibition
Held every three years, the Emscherkunst exhibition transforms the banks of a formerly polluted river in the Ruhr region into an open-air public exhibition space for art projects. Meanwhile, the River Emscher itself is re-verting to a natural river landscape. New spaces for art and outdoor recrea-tion are emerging in what used to be wasteland. Nothing here is concealed or exaggerated; the history of the steel and coal industries is plain to see, but so too is the inevitable reclaiming of the land by nature. Notable exam-ples of this brand of contemporary garden design with a focus on post-industrial nature are the Westpark, which surrounds the Jahrhunderthalle events venue in Bochum, the garden show grounds of Nordsternpark in Gel-senkirchen and the Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord (North Duisburg Land-scape Park). The next Emscherkunst exhibition will take place in 2016.
Discover rare plants in botanical gardens
Botanical Garden in Bonn
The botanical gardens of North Rhine-Westphalia's university cities are not just for budding biologists: the public can also visit and marvel at the speci-mens on view. The botanical garden in Bonn has a particular rarity in the titan arum, the world's largest flower. On the rare occasions when the plant flowers, the 100 kg fleshy inflorescence grows to a height of up to 1.80 metres in two days – and then swiftly collapses.
Ruhr-Universität Bochum Botanical Garden
The botanical garden of the University of Bochum also has an oversized at-traction: the round leaves of the Victoria water-lilies have a diameter of 1.50 metres, which makes them impressive enough without the added curiosity of flowers that start out white before turning pink.
Green cities: garden city and urban gardening
The cities of North Rhine-Westphalia have always taken a creative approach to integrating nature into the urban landscape. In the 1920s, Germany's first garden city was built in Margarethenhöhe, Essen. Residents and visitors alike are still in love with the detached gablefront houses, romantic terrace façades and pretty front gardens of this village-within-a-city.
NeuLand Köln: urban gardening in Cologne
More and more city dwellers want a garden close to where they live instead of moving out to the countryside. In urban gardening, open spaces in the city are used to create little green oases or to grow vegetables. These are usually neighbourhood projects, like the mobile community garden NeuLand Köln. Locals have created their own garden with raised beds between the areas of Südstadt and Bayenthal at this former industrial site in Cologne.
Wonders of the Orient in NRW
Japanese gardens in Leverkusen and Düsseldorf
In North Rhine-Westphalia, amateur botanists will not just find gardens influ-enced by the main European horticultural traditions. Two extraordinary Jap-anese gardens in Leverkusen and Düsseldorf temporarily transport visitors to the Orient. The Japanese-themed park in Leverkusen fuses a number of Asian and European horticultural styles, whereas the topiary and character-istic stone lanterns of the Japanese garden in the state capital are in strict accordance with the Japanese garden design rulebook.
www.leverkusen.de | www.duesseldorf.de
Ruhr-Universität Bochum Chinese Garden
The Chinese garden of the University of Bochum provides an oasis for meditation and relaxation. Natural materials like stone, wood and tiles have been integrated into the intricately designed gardenscape to create a harmonious combination of architecture, water features and plants.
Relaxation in extensive landscapes: nature parks in Rhineland
Bergisches Land Nature Park
Bergisches Land can boast several thousand square kilometres of pristine nature. The best place to experience this is Bergisches Land Nature Park, which is known for its constantly alternating wooded uplands and meadow valleys. Idyllic floodplains and spectacular views are complemented by the built environment of typical slate-fronted and half-timbered houses. Reservoirs and dams provide recreation for water sports fans and you can try regional specialities at establishments belonging to the “Bergische Gastlichkeit” association of hospitality providers.
Hohe Mark-Westmünsterland Nature Park
Those looking to escape the urban jungle of the Ruhr region for rest and re-laxation need not go far to find themselves in a nature park covering more than 1,000 km2. The Hohe Mark-Westmünsterland Nature Park is located just north of Bottrop and Recklinghausen, and is known for the variety of its landscapes and its themes of park, forest and water. Moated castles and strongholds, hiking trails and cycle paths ensure that visitors can enjoy a va-riety of leisure activities.
Naturpark Hohes Venn – Eifel (High Fens - Eifel Nature Park)
One of Germany's few international conservation areas, the High Fens - Eifel Nature Park boasts a huge variety of landscapes: upland moor, rivers, streams, 15 lakes and dams, forested mountainsides and the foothills of the Volcanic Eifel provide the scenic backdrop. There are also many cultural highlights to be discovered, including Stone Age caves, Roman remains and over a hundred castles, palaces and monasteries.
Rhineland Nature Park
At the heart of the Rhineland, the Rhineland Nature Park is perfect for rest and relaxation. Located to the west of Cologne and Bonn between the Rhine and the Eifel mountains, it boasts a variety of landscapes including forests interspersed with floodplains. The volcanic landscape to the south of Bonn is a big draw for adventure-lovers. Other highlights include the many traditional villages, the castles along the Swist and Erft rivers, and the numerous water mills.
Schwalm-Nette Nature Park
The Schwalm-Nette Nature Park is located in the districts of Kleve (Cleves), Viersen, Heinsberg and the city of Mönchengladbach. Its forests, heathland, moors, lakes, floodplains with alder marsh forests, meadows and pastures provide varied scenery to enjoy the great outdoors. There are plenty of at-tractions for sight-seers too, from water mills, castles, palaces and stately homes to historic old towns. Nine premium hiking circuits make it easy to discover the nature park on foot.
Siebengebirge Nature Park
The Siebengebirge (Seven Mountains) is a range comprising over 40 volcan-ic hills, which extends right across the nature park. Along the right bank of the Rhine from Bonn to Bad Honnef via Sankt Augustin and Königswinter, the Siebengebirge Nature Park boasts extremely diverse geology, flora and fauna in a relatively compact area. Impressive sights along the way include the 13th century Heisterbach Abbey and the Neo-Gothic castle of Schloss Drachenburg.