Nether Rhine Region Open Air Museum Grefrath

Niederrheinisches Freilichtmuseum Grefrath

We discovered this small but cute open air museum largely by accident.  Centered around the 14th - 17th century water castle Dorenburg which houses temporary and permanent exhibitions on folk life in the Nether Rhine region, there are a number of brick and timber farm buildings housing displays on various traditional crafts and rural life in the past, a smithy, a distillery, a tannery, and old-time shop (which was, unfortunately, closed when we visited). There is also a restaurant which has an impressive dolls´ house on display (and serves yummy pancakes).

Among the nicest features the museum has to offer was the toy museum which had a nice collection of antique dolls, tin toys, games etc. to show. I regret not having taken more pictures.

The top picture shows an early 17th century house from Rasseln, nowadays a part of Moenchengladbach. It is unique since this is not a forest region and timber was expensive, yet this house has more timber in its structure than necessary for static reasons. The former owners displayed their wealth in this way.

In the second picture, Goldie is sitting in front of Spenneshof farm which used to be in Hagen. Below, she is with a calvary (Bildstock). These Christian wayside shrines can usually be found at roadsides or crossroads and have been erected to commemorate events or people or sometimes even to remind the passer-by that life is short and one should be grateful for it. Some have been donated by grateful survivors of the Plague centuries ago; others may be there to remember the victim of a roadside accident in more recent times. You often find calvaries adorned with flowers or candles.

(Summer 2006)