The Neandertal is probably one of the most well-known places in the world and therefore a destination that attracts a lot of visitors. Apart from the Neanderthal man who was found 160 years ago the valley is a place of excursions for nature-lovers and hikers alike. The Neanderthal Museum, the place of discovery and the ice-age game reserve near the river Düssel are suitable for a full-day excursion.
Please note: The local recreation area of the Neandertal will be given a facelift until the middle of 2020, to create an even better visitor experience. The central valley area surrounding the Neanderthal Museum will be upgraded with two pedestrian bridges and one stone age playground among other things. Until completion, there may be temporal limitations. Arriving by public transport is therefore recommended. You can find further information at www.masterplan-neandertal.de.
The Neandertal, named after the theologian and composer of hymns Joachim Neander, has been a tourist attraction for centuries. The ‘Gesteins’, as the valley of the little stream Düssel between Mettmann and Erkrath was also called, was in Neander’s times a narrow, deep gorge. In the 17th century he held church services and composed hymns in front of this impressive natural setting.
The excavation of limestone that began in the 19th century with the onset of industrialisation changed the aspect of the valley for good, but also led to its becoming world-famous. In the process of excavation works in the caves in 1856, parts of a human skeleton were found which were later on identified as early hominid remains. Ever since then the term ‘Neanderthal man’ is known worldwide. Today the Neandertal with its numerous attractions and its excellent infrastructure is a popular destination for visitors from near and far.
Moreover, the Neandertal is Germany’s oldest nature reserve. Back then there were waterfalls, caves, cliffs and ample forests. After the excavation of limestone the valley has developed in harmony with nature. Beech groves and hornbeams grow at the valleys’ slopes and in the stone pits.
One of Europe’s most modern museums is today located not far from the place where Neanderthal man was found 160 years ago. It tells visitors from all over the world the story of mankind from its beginning in the African savannah more than four million years ago to present age. Regularly changing special exhibitions address the most diversified topics.
The stone-age atelier offers join-in activities and workshops for children, young persons and adults, and once a year there is a grand museum festival. From the museum, a trail leads to the world-famous place of discovery of Neanderthal man. Audio systems at stations along the trail provide background information on the natural, cultural and industrial history of the valley. All information is also available in a smartphone app. Access by public transport is recommended - e.g. with the combination ticket of the DB.
Talstraße 300 | 40822 Mettmann | Tel. 02104-97970
open Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Works by ten artists of international repute give a better understanding of the competing interests of man and nature. Children can have a good romp on the large playground by the banks of the stream Düssel. An audio guide to the art trail is available at the Neanderthal Museum‘s ticket counter. Please note that as part of the preparations for the Masterplan Neandertal, three sculptures must be temporarily dismantled as they can not remain at their previous locations.
Talstraße 300 | 40822 Mettmann | Tel. 02104-97970
The walking trail from Mettmann town centre to the Neanderthal Museum, almost four kilometers long, features installations, sculptures and industrial monuments demonstrating human evolution, such as the ‘rings of remembrance’, possibly the only growing monument worldwide.
Lavalplatz (town centre) / Talstraße 300 (Neandertal) | 40822 Mettmann | Tel. 02104-980123
On a short hike around the game reserve you can observe primeval wisents, tarpan wild horses and aurochs. On an area of 23 hectares, the animals live on wooded slopes as well as high and valley meadows. For a good overview of the area, visit the small viewing platform in Erkrath. The reserve is accessible free of charge round the clock. Dogs are allowed on the leash.
Thekhauser Quall 2 | 40699 Erkrath | Tel. 0173-2817352 or 02104-992821
This interesting walkabout starts at the country house “Gut Bachelsberg” and does not only give you insight into the valley’s nature but as well in its history. The Urtour through the Neandertal is guided by Ute Stöcker and is available in German and English for groups of five to fifteen people. Meals are optional and should be booked ahead.
Moreover, groups can engage in berry tasting from June through September. Request for groups of children and teenagers should be addressed separately.
Ute Stöcker | Gut Bachelsberg, Diepensiepen | 40822 Mettmann
Tel. 02104-5083195 | www.urtour.de | Prior booking necessary
The artists of the Düsseldorf School of Painting, above all Johann Wilhelm Schirmer and his mentor Carl Friedrich Lessing, discovered the Neandertal for their art around 1826. The gorge, today destroyed, with its roaring stream Düssel, the steeply sloping rocks and the lush vegetation deeply impressed the painters. Apart from a few travel reports, their drawings and paintings are the only testimonies to the former Neandertal.