Through the virgin forest of the Eifel or “on shift” in the Ruhr district. Action at the climbing park or high art at the museum. A night in a tree house or a visit to the Neanderthals. Nothing is impossible. Because NRW knows no bounds and invites visitors with and without impairments to enjoy an accessible round trip of the natural surroundings and industrial history of the state. Adventure for the whole family, spectacular architecture and journeys to earlier times await.
For Nature Lovers
Virgin forest of tomorrow. That sounds like rough terrain and lots of trip hazards. Wrong. Along the accessible routes in Wilder Kermeter natural adventure park in the heart of the Eifel National Park, anyone can make their way with ease and enjoy the view of the forests and dams from cliff ledges such as Hirschley. Just a short hike away, the “Wildnis(t)räume” exhibition at the national park centre at Vogelsang International Place (IP) offers nature so close you can touch it and experience it with all of your senses. An accessible guide system leads visitors through a fascinating world of forest and water with tactile model animals, smell and sound stations and sensory loungers to relax. Daring visitors can also experience the view of the Bergisches Land Nature Park from above. Because the highlights of Panarbora nature experience park in Waldbröl are the treetop walk and the wooden observation tower, which reaches high above the forest at 34 metres and can even be climbed by wheelchairs and pushchairs (a bit of physical fitness is required). Or if you would prefer something a little less strenuous, you can take a bicycle tour or walk through the flatter Münsterland. The approximately 30 kilometre long “NaturTour Vreden für Alle” (nature tour of Vreden for all) connects more than 20 natural and cultural history sights. The paths are particularly wide, so bicycles with trailers, parallel tandems and tricycles can pass each other comfortably. Of course, you can decide for yourself which section and how many kilometres you want to ride. A stop at Zwillbrocker Venn is also a must. An almost six kilometre long loop trail runs through the nature reserve where the world’s most northerly flamingo colony nests every year.
Industrial history up close
Just next door in the Ruhr Area
The air is muggy. It smells of sweat and the noise is deafening. The conditions people used to work in at the factories and mines of NRW were anything but pleasant. A fascinating insight into these histories is provided by the many industrial museums, which are mostly accessible without steps and generally offer guided tours in sign language and for people with visual impairments. One of the most beautiful industrial monuments in the state is the Zeche Zollern mine in Dortmund, also called the “Schloss der Arbeit” (Palace of Labour) because of its palatial complex and impressive art nouveau doorway. Another anchor point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage is the textile works in Bocholt, where more than 20,000 spindles once turned and set the pace for the workers. Nowadays, innumerable looms rattle in unison during daily demonstrations at the weaving mill. It can also get quite loud when the extremely heavy hammer falls at Gesenkschmiede Hendrichs die forge in Solingen and a scissors is formed from the glowing stall right before the visitors’ eyes.
The most famous industrial museum in NRW is the Zeche Zollverein UNESCO world heritage site in Essen. What was once the world’s largest coal mine is now the impressive setting for a centre for art, culture and creative industries, best explored on a guided tour. There is also the option of riding the “Weg der Kohle” (coal trail) in comfort on an electric bus. In the Ehrenhof (commemorative courtyard) at Forum Kohlenwäsche (coal washing plant) in front of the coking facility’s mixing plant, there are cast iron models of the site with Braille and touch symbols.
How it used to be
From the Drachenfels to Roman History
A historical cog railway comfortably brings visitors up Drachenfels hill in the Siebengebirge near Königswinter, where they are greeted half way up by two golden stags at Schloss Drachenburg castle. From the terrace, which is accessible without steps, the view extends far over the romantic Rhine Valley, once rhapsodised about by poets and painters. Visitors can delve further into the state’s history at the Neanderthalmuseum in Mettmann. Multi-media elements and audio experiences take visitors to the accessible exhibition through four million years of human history. The quickest route “durch die Antike” (through antiquity) is available to visitors in the form of an App that guides them through the archaeological park in Xanten and its Roman museum.
Xanten is also home to one of the most beautiful church museums. At Stiftsmuseum Xanten, a map provides assistance on the accessible tour of the ten rooms on art and cultural history in the Lower Rhine region. The museum courtyard near the cathedral is also accessible without stairs or steps.
A day at the museum
For Culture Lovers
One of the most spectacular museum buildings in the world is to be found in the Teutoburg Forest. The curved façade of the Marta Herford museum appears to be dancing. But there is no need to worry. Nobody need miss a beat inside the museum of contemporary art, architecture and design. All of the rooms are accessible without steps and there is a whole range of easily accessible offerings for adults and children. The Max Ernst Museum in Brühl is similarly laid out, where people with and without impairments can look at the work of the painter and sculptor up close with “seeing hands”. In addition to this, audio guides with atmospheric sounds and original recordings create a sensory experience as you go around the exhibition.
An original commentary known to everyone greets visitors to the German Football Museum in Dortmund. You are plunged into the action straight away on the escalator as you hear Zimmermann shout: “Rahn müsste schießen, Rahn schießt ...” (Rahn has to shoot, Rahn shoots ...). And on guided tours for people with visual impairments, valuable exhibits like a replica of the World Cup trophy are even taken out of the display cabinets. Without having to climb any steps, visitors can reach the rooftop of the Dortmunder U. The former Dortmunder Union Brauerei building, whose striking U on the roof defines the city silhouette, is home to an art and creativity centre.
Adventure for the whole family
From climbing to water parks
It takes a little bit of courage to allow yourself to be hoisted up into the air. But once you have overcome your fear, a trip to Grenzenlos Kletterpark is fun for all the family. Because this inclusive climbing park in Gütersloh challenges children and adults with and without impairments to explore their own limits and even to exceed them. Because everyone can rely on everyone else here. Children and adults also learn with and from each other at Naturparkzentrum Gymnicher Mühle. Here, everything revolves around the “Vom Korn zum Brot” (from grain to bread) trail. And in summer, a large water adventure park around the 800 year old mill in Rhineland Nature Park entices with lots of play areas to be experienced together.