Wedged between the forested Naturpark Bergisches Land and the great cathedral city of Cologne (Köln), the little industrial city of Bergisch Gladbach is a great base for travel throughout the region. Only a short distance from the Middle Rhine — the most scenic and most visited part of the river system — this small conurbation is somewhere to settle for a short time to relax.
Staying within Bergisch Gladbach itself, take a stroll through the city center — a great place to see the local people go about their daily lives. With markets and festivals throughout the year, there is nearly always something to prepare for or clear up after!
And being the end of the line from Cologne (with the Naturpark undeveloped), this city has developed in its own character — you come here because you want to, not because you were on the way to somewhere else.
Driving south down the very straight K27 you pass through a great woodland on the way to the Golf Course which is encased in the woodland itself, as well as the large Bensberger See (a lake) to the south.
Schloss Bensberg is just a bit further past the lake, and the Schlossstraße you find yourself on leads one-way — straight up to the gates of the castle. With its delicate lawns on either side, it really is an amazing drive towards this powerful building in the center of the city.
This whole area of Germany is famous for its Tolle Tage (the Mad Days) around Ash Wednesday, when the women are allowed to have some fun through the streets — including cutting off the ends of mens ties and generally being mischievous. ;-)
The festival is known as Weiberfastnacht (Women’s Carnival), and it becomes the biggest street festival in Europe when it takes to the streets of Cologne on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. Here, hundreds of thousands of visitors turn up for the celebration, filling the area with fun and events.
You really don’t want to miss this — unless you’re wearing a tie, of course! ;-)