Visit Ribbeck - Havelland region in Brandenburg

Do you like pears? In recent years it became more and more popular to move into the countryside, everyone started talking, dreaming, planning ... it was the thing to do. 

Are you also longing for a simpler lifestyle? Living in the countryside is surely a wonderful way to live, but as soon as people started to think about it (realistically), they realised there are no grocery stores, cinemas, museums, doctors or hospitals in close proximity of their dream property in the woods. The absence of these makes life a bit ... what ... really different, right? 

Many of us (human beings) decided to live in a city and make visits to the countryside whenever one feels like it. Berlin, for example, is the best base for trips into the wonderful countryside of Brandenburg. You only have to drive a few kilometres and you reach destinations which seem to come straight from the pages of a fairy tale book. An excellent example is
Ribbeck. The small town in the Havelland region, a mere 50 kilometres from Alexanderplatz in the centre of Berlin is the main character in a poem by the German poet and novelist Theodor Fontane

Mr von Ribbeck of Ribbeck in the Havelland region (Herr von Ribbeck von Ribbeck in Havelland, the German title of the poem) is about a squire who simply loves to give pears to children. He knows his son is not the kindest (and won’t give fruit to children) hence takes a pear to his grave so that a pear tree grows on it. The tree grows and, as planned, the kids can pick pears even after his death. It is a poem which would have been read to children, and even grown-ups like it. It certainly is one of Germany’s most popular poems. I speak to a lady at a Café in Ribbeck and she tells me with a snigger "We hadn't had to read that poem at school"

When we talk I just take it without thinking about her words but I later wonder if it might have been that she didn't read it at school because the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was a republic for workers and peasants. In a country where, by Marxist-Leninist views, the working-class prevailed over the capitalist class, there simply might not have been enough space for a squire.

Ribbeck - the pear town in Brandenburg

If you would have come here two decades ago this town would have looked very different to today, somehow bleak, and a bit neglected. The GDR was more interested in building tower blocks (Plattenbauten). There wasn’t much on offer, only one pub, and Ribbeck castle was a home for the elderly. 

After the fall of the wall, one of the Ribbeck descendants decided to get back to his land and to make his ancestors proud. Together with the residents of Ribbeck, he turned the town into what it is today. The Ribbeck castle shines in its old glory, there are cosy cafes, the church in the centre of town has also been lovingly refurbished and even a new pear tree has been planted in the churchyard. 

Traffic is low if there is any at all. You would buy your eggs and your honey in an "honesty-store" set up in people’s front yards. A few well-fed cats walk the streets at their own leisure, and horses are let to pasture in big gardens. The people are welcoming and friendly, and there are pears everywhere you look.


Where to eat (and get your Matcha Latte fix) in Ribbeck

Coffee and cake at Café Altes Waschhaus 

At first, I was surprised that the ladies working here just babbled without even taking a breath. They were talking about this and that, often it seemed they were talking to themselves, and there was the odd occasion when they yelled through the whole café to reach their colleagues who were working in the kitchen. And then it dawned on me ... They were behaving like a washerwoman. They were even dressed in clothes of a time long gone by. It was all part of the theme. 

The Café is in a prime position right opposite the famous pear tree. In its days the property used to be the home of the staff of the squire. The owner fulfilled a dream with opening her own café, and her style and work can be admired throughout the cafe. The pear cakes are homemade, and I recommend you order a big piece of it.

Altes Waschhaus. Ribbeck 14641 Ribbeck, Am Birnbaum 6. Opening hours: January to December. hursday to Sunday 11 am to 5 pm.

Tarte Flambee at Café Ribbaecker: For Ribbaecker they merged the words Ribbeck and Baeckerei (Ribbeck the town. Baecker is German for baker). You can get lots of snacks, fresh bread, hot drinks, and ice cream. Try the delicious Flammkuchen. And, who would have thought, you can also get a Matcha Latte in this place. What is not to like?

Ribbaecker. Ribbeck 14641 Ribbeck, Am Birnbaum 5. Opening hours 11 am – 5 pm.

I loved Ribbeck for its history, peace and quiet, and that it is all about the pear in this town. Its proximity to Berlin is simply fabulous. If you are interested in German history and literature, and if you fancy great cakes, this is the place to be. As a fan of Germany, you might also like to visit other regions of the country, please read 6 things to see on a walk through Nuremberg. Do you also like trips to the countryside? Just go. Now.

From Berlin with love