”Castrop-Rauxel?. You mean to say the town actually exists?” Yes indeed. It’s on the north-west border of Dortmund, tucked between Bochum and Herne in the district of Recklinghausen and, if you're tired of big-city stress or want somewhere reasonably civilised where you can bring up your kids in peace. Although I now live in Essen, Castrop-Rauxel is a very pleasant place to live.
The European Capital of Culture "RUHR 2010"
In 2010 I was responsible for an official project called "Castrop-Rauxel....ein Gedicht"
(lit: Castrop-Rauxel...a poem) in the town during the European Capital of Culture "RUHR2010" celebrations. The idea was to highlight poetry as a vibrant part of today's European culture and, in doing so, emphasise that is is written by living people whose work enriches our everyday lives.
My experience with Feinkost für die Seele
(see "Other activities") had shown that a good poem can give you a shot in the arm similar to a good aperitif or a fine whisky and light up your life for a moment. Starting on Shakespeare's birthday, April 23rd 2010, I presented a series of events in the streets, parks and cultural centres of the town. These included two related poetry exhibitions. The first was called Castrop-Rauxel - ein Gedicht
("Gedicht" is German for poem) and opened on June 20th 2010. Here I enlisted a team of helpers to hang no less than 2010 poems in shop windows, on so-called poet-trees and lanterns, in hotels, hospitals, schools - in short along the streets and in public places all over town. These were arranged in a series of poetry trails leading to "poetry oases" (restaurants and cafés with poems on the menu - to read not eat!) and "poetry islands" (other cultural centres in the town). A website was set up, and people were invited to suggest their favourite poems, or submit their own poems for consideration.
The main focus of the event was an exhibition entitled "Europe...a poem"
in a gallery in the old market place, which opened on the 3rd of July 2010. Here I hung 27 poems, one poem by a living major poet from all 27 European countries. I was resposnible for choosing each poet, whom I requested to send me one hand-written, signed poem of their choice (no longer than 16 lines). This was then framed and hung with a German and an English translation, a photograph of the poet, biographic and publishing details.
The following 27 poets agreed to take part: Wislawa Szymborska
(Poland. Nobel prize for literature, 1996), Seamus Heaney
(Ireland. Nobel Prize for literature, 1995), Ana Blandiana
(Romania), Elisa Biagini
(Italy), Olli Heikkonen
(Finland), Kostas Koutsourelis
(Greece), Göran Sönnevi
(Sweden), Knuts Skujenieks
(Latvia), Eugenijus Alisanka
(Lithuania), Jaan Kaplinski
(Estonia), Sir Andrew Motion
(England. Poet Laureate 1999-2009), Miriam Van hee
(Belgium), Petr Borkovec
(Czech Republic), Zsuzsa Rakovszky
(Hungary), Marian Hatala
(Slovakina Republic), Oliver Friggieri
(Malta), Barbara Korun
(Slovenia), Menno Wigman
(The Netherlands), Joan Margarit
(Spain), Anise Koltz
(Luxemburg), Niki Marangou
(Cyprus), Pia Tafdrup
(Denmark), Mirela Ivanova
(Bulgaria), Ana Luisa Amaral
(Portugal), Friederike Mayröcker
(Austria), André Velter
(France), and last not least Barbara Köhler
If you are interested in finding out more about the town and its history, I can tell you that Castrop-Rauxel has got a very Irish connection in the person of a certain William Mulvany
. For more, read on…
Tourist info: Stadtinformation, Rathaus, Europaplatz 1, 44575 Castrop-Rauxel.
Tel: 02305/106-2219. Fax. 02305/18440. Email: email@example.com.
"The town was first mentioned in documents as "Villa Castorp" in 834 and for centuries was a tiny rural administrative centre on a trade route. It only really began to grow in 1867 when the Irishman William Mulvany arrived here with a team of Englishmen to sink the Erin pit. In 1902 the town was given municipal status and 24 years later the two parts of Castrop and Rauxel (further north) were joined into a single administrative unit. The town now has a population of around 76,000 and because of its geographical setting - far enough from large cities but near enough to several motorways - is an attractive place for new businesses, families and commuters. There is no longer any mining in the town but the Erin Colliery site with its illuminated pithead tower is now one of the most eye-catching industrial estates in the region and a favourite place for a stroll and a bit of fresh air. From time to time you can even see sheep grazing on the greened Irish-landscaped tips. The panorama point of the town, to the south-east on the Bodelschwingerstrasse, is the greened-over Schwerin Tip, which is adorned with a huge steel sundial created by a local artist, Jan Bormann. From here you can see all the way to Bottrop on the one side and Dortmund and beyond on the other. Just down the road from here you can visit the Hammerhead Winding Tower (Hammerkopfturm), a relic of the Erin Pit. It’s the oldest of its type in the area and is surrounded by a Celtic tree-circle in memory of William Mulvany.
Goldschmieding Park is well worth visiting, especially in the snow when the slopes are full of tobogganers. While you're here you should take a look inside Mulvany's old villa, Haus Goldschmieding. It's now part of the neighbouring hotel - the favoured lodging-place of many international football teams - and houses a café called the "Westfalenstube" (open 12 - 23.00) as well as the hotel's gourmet restaurant. The restaurant lounge used to be Mulvany's living room and the hotel manager assures me its open to anyone to look around whether they are guests or not. Here you can see an extraordinary fireplace created in 1597 and adorned with sculpted reliefs, figures and images from mythology and religion. The two pillars are supported by St. Peter and Paul respectively standing on heathen lions beneath two angels. Above them amongst the frieze stand various gods, including Hercules, Vulcan, Neptune, a naked figure called Mantiqal (assumed to be Bacchus), and Apollo. Mercury, the messenger to the gods stands next to Vulcan holding the baby Dionysius. But pride of place, right in the middle, goes to a figure known as "Antino". This represents a man called Antinous, who was the lover - sorry! constant companion - of the Emperor Hadrian. There's something horribly modern about Antinous because, in order to prove how fanatic he was about his religion, he committed suicide by throwing himself into the Nile. As a reward he was promptly elected to stand amongst the Gods. Well, that's one way of doing it, I suppose. The individual scenes between the figures begin at the far left side of the fireplace with a scene showing the Earth on a chariot of Time complete with the elements fire, water, air. This is followed by a warning series of processions showing us what man makes of the world: from prosperity, to envy, to war, to ruin, to modesty, finally leading back to prosperity again. At which point, I suppose, the whole round is likely to start again. The motto above the frieze "Soli Deo Gloria" (Honour to God alone) reminds us that the fireplace is not primarily a renaissance tribute to gay liberation or even classical mythology, but to the triumph of Christianity over the heathen world. If by now you've been taken in by the atmosphere you can always stay and indulge yourself in an extravagant meal. To book a table, telephone 02305/30132.
Food and drink in Castrop-Rauxel
Should your holiday budget not stretch to a meal at Goldschmieding, there are plenty of other alternative places to eat. A new favourite in town is the Olivo restaurant, attached to the EuroStar hotel at Bahnhofstrasse 50, where you can eat in modern neo-Italian surroundings. Within months of opening it was selected as one of the best in the region by a well-known restaurant guide. I can confirm the fine quality of the Mediterranean style food and wine. (Tel. 358290). Those of you in search of German fare with Hungarian variations will be more than satisfied at Bei Sandor (Tel: 24313) on the B235 at Wittener Strasse 159. From the outside it looks rather unprepossessing but don't be fooled: inside it's extremely elegant. There are several Chinese restaurants in town. My favourite is Jade in Obere Münsterstr. 17 (Tel: 549090) which has good freshly cooked food and makes it really spicy if you want it that way. As a bonus there’s a public car park just over the road. The latest addition to international cuisine in the town – and very fine it is too – is the Himalaya Restaurant (Tel: 44 55 100) in the equally fine Raj Mahal Ayurveda Health Centre and Hotel
opposite the town hall at Europaplatz 3-11,The chef has been brought in specially from India so you can be assured of some authentic dishes. If you’re looking for a piece of social history I suggest you call in at Haus Oestrich, Frohlinderstr. 35, near the Schwerin Tip. This authentic working-class pub - not a restaurant - is over one hundred years old and the entertainment room at the back (discos and live-music shows at weekends) looks like it’s not been changed since the days when it was used for celebrations by miners and their families. On my first visit I was regaled by the locals in the bar, one of whom told me how much he liked Yorkshire Pudding whilst another waxed enthusiastic over PG tips! It’s a funny old place, Haus Oestrich! Hotel Daum, on the Bochumerstrasse has a very popular restaurant and beer garden. From here you can take a delightful walk through the paths in the adjoining wood. And finally Castrop-Rauxel has its very own home brewery. You can sup an authentic local home brew at Haus Rütershoff at Schillerstrasse 33 on the south side of the Stadtgarten. And there’s an extremely pleasant bistro and beer garden in the Stadtgarten itself: see Parkbad Süd below.
By now you'll be thinking I've eaten and drunk my way through the whole town. Not at all. Those of you in search of the traditional German answer to afternoon tea will find two excellent "coffee and cake" cafés in town. The Confiserie Café Residenz in Wittener Strasse 34 is very near the old market place in Castrop. Everything is home-made, stylish and very traditional. It’s also a very good guesthouse if you’re planning to stay for a few days. Up in Habinghorst at Langestrasse 76, Café Harsdorff will more than fulfil your craving for cakes covered in cream, chocolate or whatever's likely to ruin your waistline. Whoops, I'm drooling as I write this.
The town has two new interesting artistic and social centres, both of which came into being with the support of the International Building Exhibition (1989-99). In the north-east in the suburb of Ickern you can find the Agora (Greek for 'open space') centre. It's supported by the local Protestant church but particularly used by the town's Greek community. The site even boasts an open-air Greek amphitheatre which is used for summer celebrations by all sections of the community. The adjoining buildings are used for language and dance courses. Evening programmes include jazz, rock and classical concerts. Back in the old centre of Castrop you can take a short walk from the market place into the town park (Stadtgarten) and look for the old open-air swimming baths. The Parkbad Süd has changed its function completely. The building, pool (no longer in use) and surrounding park are still intact but the complex, which is supported by a grass-roots initiative, now houses the popular Parkbad Süd bistro complete with beer garden and "boules" area. Boules are available at the bar. The bistro is also used as an arts, entertainment and exhibition centre. Jan Bormann, who designed the Schwering Mining Tip is not the only remarkable artist in town. If you're looking for quite outstanding works of pottery, you must visit the workshop of Ursula Commandeur
at Kleine Lönstrasse 58, very near the town centre. She not only makes practical objects but also quite unique works of art that have been exhibited all over the world. Not for nothing was she awarded the major State Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia in 2007. Give her a phone call to warn her that you’re coming: 02305/4781. . Apart from that Castrop Rauxel can boast of having two of the top 50 jewellers in the whole of Germany. Matthias Zimmer’s jewellery shop
can be found in the pedestrian precinct right next to the old market place; and just behind the ERIN pithead tower, at Karlstrasse 20, you can drool at the creations of Kersten and Matthias Grosche.
One last tip for those of you using public transport. Castrop-Rauxel has two railway stations: Castrop-Rauxel Hbf is in the north of the town and has direct connections to Hamm, Dortmund, Herne, Gelsenkirchen, Oberhausen, Duisburg and Dusseldorf (including the airport) on the RE3 train. I'm telling you this because most station information signs omit Castrop-Rauxel Hbf from the list of RE3 stops, probably because the name is too long! Take no notice, they all stop here. The other station is called Castrop-Rauxel Süd, (= South) next to Münsterplatz bus station. To get here you must take the RB43 train (Dortmund - Zollern II/IV Colliery (Bövinghausen) – Castrop-Rauxel - Herne - Movie World - Dorsten). It only goes once an hour but will at least drop you right in the middle of Castrop. The best way to the centre of Bochum from Castrop-Rauxel South (Münsterplatz) is to take bus number 353 which stops very near to the German Mining Museum. Alight “Kunstmuseum” and walk through.
The above excerpt is taken from the fourth updated and enlarged edition of my travel guide Tour the Ruhr
, Klartext Verlag, Essen, 2011.
Tourist info: Stadtinformation, Rathaus, Europaplatz 1, 44575 Castrop-Rauxel.
Tel: (02305) 106-2219. Fax. (02305) 18440. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.castrop-rauxel.de
This website was produced by ProImage
, an advertising agency in Castrop-Rauxel: www.rbpi.de, who can offer all sorts of media services.