Ramstein Air Base is the headquarters of the United States Air Force in Europe and as such, is home to the largest U.S. community outside of the United States, with a population of more than 50,000. Set in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz in the southwest corner of Germany, it is surrounded by the country’s main wine-growing region. The city of Ramstein-Miesenbach, originally formed by the merger of two farming villages, is outside the base’s west gate.
Old City Hall
This beautiful baroque building, the oldest in Ramstein, has gone through many incarnations from brewery to pub, then city hall. Now it is home to the Museum im Westrich, which has a permanent collection of exhibits offering insight into local culture, folklore and art. It also is home to the Center for Documentation and Exhibition, which charts the city’s history and relationship with the American community since it arrived shortly after World War II when the base was built in 1951.
Shop with the locals at the Saturday market in the main square in Ramstein, where stalls are brimming with an array of fresh produce, plants and flowers. Sculptor Professor Gernot Rumpf designed the fountain in the middle, which was themed on the city’s history. Or visit Miesenbach’s market square where the “Goose Anna” fountain, sculpted by Otto Kallenbach, commemorates a local farmer’s girl.
Go hiking or bicycling across the Palatinate Forest Nature Park, which starts on the edge of the city, and has a comprehensive network of trails. Follow the route taken by medieval Christian pilgrims, heading to the northwest Spanish town of Santiago de Compostela to the tomb of Saint James. St. James’ Way is marked by stones engraved with the saint’s scallop shell emblem.
Take a dip in Azur Water Park next to the Empire Stadium. The center has an indoor pool with a large 140-foot slide, water cannons and waterfall showers. Children can enjoy the lighthouse mini-slide and fountains while their parents can sink into the hot tub or sauna. In summer, an Olympic-size pool opens outside, complete with diving towers, a giant slide and water basketball nets. Or head to the Haus des Burgers community center to visit the bowling alley.