Day 29 started with a visit to Benrath Castle. Benrath Castle is a small castle located on a large area of land called Benrath Castle Park. We received a tour of the castle from a local student studying art history, which I thought was a cool opportunity for the castle to provide students with. The castle had many of the features that we had seen in other palaces and castles in this area: intricate details in furniture and walls, symmetry, large paintings, giant mirrors, and more. It was pretty breath-taking.
Our next stop was somewhere much more modern: the TV tower in Essen. On the way there, we saw some of Frank Gehry’s architecture, which I didn’t expect to see. The TV tower itself is very tall. From the observatory at the top of the tower, we could see a lot of the surrounding area. Parks, rivers, buildings that looked way different from above than they did from the ground, everything. It was really cool because it was essentially like seeing this entire section of Essen in plan view.
The next day, we went to Nordpark, which I think was one of my favorite places from the trip. It was a really unique park because it had several themed sections in it. Therefore, walking through the park was like walking through several, small parks. The park had some of the most interesting trees, ranging from large, towering oak trees to small trees with twisted branches. My favorite section of the park was the Japanese Garden. It was really interesting trees and water features that were manicured in a way to replicate traditional gardens in Japan.
On Day 31, we visited a residential community that is considered the first German garden city. Garden cities are planned urban developments that are generally affordable even for families with low incomes. The community has been around for over 100 years, so many of the homes have very old features. We toured the inside of one of the housing units that was used as an example of what the homes would look like in the early 1900’s. It was very small, unfurnished, and everything seemed to have a dual purpose. The community itself was lovely; it felt quaint but modern at the same time.
After lunch, we went to Grugapark. I absolutely loved Grugapark. It felt a bit like the Central Park of Essen, but more manicured. Some sections of it were more curated and plant-life focused, while other parts were wide open fields meant for playing and relaxing. There was a small train that took you around the park. Other aspects of the park I really liked were a waterfall, a very unique looking castle, and a small zoo which was home to many bird species. There was a lot to learn from this park.
Tomorrow we’ll be starting our final project of the trip, which will be at Landschaftpark. I’m sad that the trip is coming to an end, but at the same time, I’m excited to go home and see my family.