Verna Park is a surprising find in industrial Ruesselsheim
For a city known more for its bustling industry than its tranquility, it was surprising to find that Ruesselsheim has a lot of green to enjoy.
Despite living nearby for a long time, I didn’t really know much about this central German town except that it’s home to the sprawling Opel car factory.
But while looking for a relatively corona-safe place to go on a sunny spring afternoon, I wondered if there was anything else to see there.
Ruesselsheim is on the Main River, so I thought a stroll along its banks might be nice. Checking a map, I discovered a green square abutting the river’s floodplains called Verna Park.
It’s named after its mid-19th century founder, Baroness Wilhelmine von Verna. Also known as the Stadtpark or city park, it’s really not that big at about 14 acres, but it is pleasant.
The English garden-style landscaping is surrounded by an old stone wall and includes a pond, a music pavilion, a circular colonnade topping a small hill and even faux castle ruins.
We decided to just meander the crisscrossing paths and enjoy the sunshine, fresh air and the sounds of birds singing.
Soon, instead of birdsong, the sounds of squealing children filled the air. We rounded a corner and came across a playground between the park’s monopteros and the music pavilion. Though small and without swings, it’s still a nice place to let the wee ones work off some energy.
Supposedly the baroness had the colonnade, called a monopteros, built in honor of her dead husband. Concerts at the pavilion are on hold due to the coronavirus.
The Eremitage — also called the Alten Muehle, or Old Mill — is a small, half-timbered, two-story building. Not really a mill, the baroness used the top floor as a retreat with a view across the park. The bottom floor housed the turbine and pumps that once powered the garden’s fountains.
Across from the Eremitage is a cool precision sundial. Looking a bit like a bent quarter moon, you read the time at the left edge of the shadow thrown by the bend. Either it, or my cellphone clock, was two minutes off.
We stopped at the pond, its fountain not working, unfortunately, to watch turtles sun themselves on the rocks.
The tall, shell limestone-clad obelisk is one of the oldest things in the park, dating back to the mid-1800s.
There are around 500 trees growing here, and some of the more exotic are identified by little plaques. Among them are trees from the U.S. and an evergreen from Morocco’s Atlas Mountains.
The fake castle ruins, with its two towers connected by a bridge, are tucked into a corner of the park. Unfortunately, entrance isn’t permitted.
A passage in the wall and under the levee leads out to the Main and its floodplain. You can walk atop the levee for a view of the river.
We strolled down to the river’s edge and watched the boats go by. Not far from here, it flows into the Rhine.
Nearby are the Opelvillen, two manor homes that are now an art and cultural center, and the Festung, a 600-year-old fortress that houses the City and Industry Museum.
They are worth visiting, but we’ll save those for another day.
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Directions: Enter Ludwig-Doerfler-Allee 4, 65428 Ruesselsheim am Main in your map app. It is about 12 miles from Wiesbaden and 60 miles from Kaiserslautern.
Times: Open daily during daylight hours
Cost: Entrance is free. Parking on the street is 50 cents for each 30 minutes up to 3 hours. The APOCA Parkhaus an der Festung at Taunusstrasse 5, costs 70 cents per hour or 5 euros for the day.