Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What to do in Rathenow

Situated less than one hour away from Berlin - with the ODEG line there is a train every hour, the two-way ticket costs 17 EUR - Rathenow is famous for the optical industry an the special red bricks, made from the clay of the river Havel. Maybe during the winter, it doesn't say too much to the visitor, but during the summer months, it has for sure a hidden natural potential. Here are my discoveries, done part of my first trip out of Berlin in 2017.
Just in the front of the red bricked train station, there is the big Druckerplatz, where the classical colonnades are bordered by two feather like glass columns. It is the local respect paid by Rathenow to the one who put this locality on the German map of industry, Johann Heinrich August Drucker, theology graduate, who created the German optic industry.  
From the train station, we took the Friedrich Ebert Ring, passing near the Soviet Cemetery, a reminder that Rathenow used to be once part of the communist part of Germany. Hence, the predominant architecture of the place is old communist blocks of houses, with some stylish architectural presences, mostly abandoned, like the pinkish one in the picture - situated at the corner of Berlinerstraße. Pity, as in its glorious times, this one might have been look like a little urban castle. 
One of the few spare time activities people here can do - particularly in the winter - is to attend some of the musical events hosted at the Musikbrauerei. It offers cocktails, dancing evenings or the opportunity to watch main sport events together. Could be something when you are looking for some company.
At Platz der Freiheit, the local court - Landsrat - is hosted in a very impressive red bricked building, with religious architecture influence, but also urban elegance. 
Close from it, there is another center of local activities: the cultural center - Kulturzentrum - where besides the theatre, there is also a museum presenting the local optical history and achievements - Optikmuseum. Near by, the City Center offers the best of shopping as well as some local coffee houses. Other shopping opportunities can be found along Berlinerstraße.
After 10 minutes of walking, you find yourself near the Havel, which during this time of the year looks grey and unattractive. But once the spring is set, the natural setting on the shores offers a pleasant company for biking. 
The old city wall - Stadtmauer - is a remainder of the old history of the city. Well preserved it is surrounded by nature too. Close from the wall, there is the Haveltorkino, an American looking movie theatre offering...not surprisingly, an American dinner venue. On the same side of the road, there is the optical center, to be visited only if you are really a potential customer. For the visitors, there is only the aforementioned Optikmuseum. All over the city, small billboards with various optical illusions are displayed, awakening the interest of the visitor for knowing and discovering more.
Going on the different shores of Havel, there are different snapshots of the city, many of them displaying a mixture of new communist architecture and old red bricked buildings. I suppose when everything is green, the entire concrete apparitions are looking friendlier. 
The spectacular metal bridges connecting the two shores of the Havel are part of the Naturradweg road, a natural biking route. As for now, there were only kids enjoying the adventures of riding alone from a part to another. On the other side of the bridge - Am Altenhafen - , there is a small historical area, with a church and a monument dedicated to the famous German politician Otto von Bismarck from the end of the 19th century, who started his prodigious career in the modest Rathenow. 
For some diversity, a statuary group of people about to throw a bottle in the Havel, brings you back to the humorous present. Not sure if this statue has to do with some local habits, but it's funny anyway. Better not ask more sometimes.
More classical and interesting is a couple of meters away, the baroque monument in the memory of Friedrich Wilhelm the Great. Back to the train station, we tried to discover other hidden treasures of the city. For instance, the Stadtgalerie Karl Martens Kunstverein, featuring local works of art. If you are hungry for some snacks, I've spotted two bakeries serving traditional local Hörnchen - the German version of croissants - sandwiches and pastry: Meister Möhring and Bäcker Lohse, on Mittelstrasse. 
Our trip started on a grey winter note, but less than one hour away from our departure, the sun shined in Fontane Park, a natural destination where you can walk, enjoy the beautiful nature or ride your bike. As our trip to Rathenow ended in an optimistic note, as I am sure I will soon return for a long nature walk. Who knows, maybe I will finally start biking myself this year and this place look like a good beginning for a different journey. It looks so quiet and tourism-free that you may want to visit it more often.

For more inspiration about what to do in Rathenow, check my dedicated Pinterest board: https://de.pinterest.com/ilanaontheroad/rathenow-brandenburg-germany/

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