The proud smaller neighbour
Ratingen received its town charter from Duke von Berg in 1276, making it older than its larger neighbour, Düsseldorf. This is a source of pride for the locals, and the town's impressive ramparts, historical buildings and pretty market square are evidence of the role that it has played since the 9th century. Among Ratingen's attractions are the moated castles Haus zum Haus and Schloss Linnep, along with Landsberg Castle and the Church of St. Peter and Paul, all dating from the 12th and 13th century. They also include the timber-framed house Zum Roten Hahn and the Cromford textile works from 1783, a very important monument of industrial history, as well as a mechanical cotton mill, considered to be the first of its kind on the European mainland.
A museum of dolls and an art collection of international calibre
The people of Ratingen enjoy a range of cultural and leisure attractions. The municipal theatre hosts performances by a number of well-known touring companies, while art and entertainment feature in equal measure at the Zelt Zeit festival. During the summer there is also theatre on the open-air stage at Blauer See lake. On display at the Doll Museum are many fine examples of German and French dolls manufactured since 1850. The charming doll Luise guides visitors through the collection and shows them how their grandmothers and great-grandmothers used to live. The theme of the town's art collection is 'Searching for the hidden life', and it includes works by famous international artists such as Joseph Beuys, Arnulf Rainer, Antoni Täpies, Cy Twobly, Ugo Dossi, Julian Schnabel and Christian Ludwig Attersee.
The Ratingen Art Trail is also well worth seeing. It is part of a project that aims to link the cultural attractions of a region including areas of Düsseldorf, Mettmann and the Netherlands to form a new network. The Art Trail runs through the entire town. To the west, it extends as far as Volkardey park, to the east it reaches the Anger valley, with reference to the pilgrimage church at Neviges and the culturally significant site where Neanderthal man was found. The trail is around eleven kilometres long and features a number of different landscapes which ten artists have reflected in their sculptures.