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Düsseldorf: Where History, Culture and Modern Life Collide
Combining a rich history with modern day city amenities, Düsseldorf offers visitors the best of both worlds. Trendy bars and stylish hotels rub shoulders with century-old beer halls and cosy guesthouses, while tranquil green spaces negate harried city streets. History buffs can explore ancient buildings and historic neighbourhoods, while contemporary travellers are free to revel in state-of-the-art entertainment venues and luxury fashion stores. All in all, there really is something for everyone in Düsseldorf.
Altstadt and Kaiserswerth
Perhaps the best place to start in Düsseldorf is at its historic centre. Altstadt (Old Town) is home to some of the city’s most historic features, as well as museums, galleries, theatres, pubs and much more. Keep an eye out for the Schlossturm (castle tower), the last remaining feature of what was once an imposing castle, and be sure to visit Marktplatz and the historic city hall. North of the city, in the direction of Düsseldorf Airport, you’ll find Kaiserswerth, another of the city’s historic neighbourhoods. The Basilica of St. Suitbertus and the ruins of the Kaiserpfalz are among the can’t-miss attractions here. You’ll find a good selection of hotels in both Altstadt and Kaiserwerth, making both a good base from which to explore the city.
As well as being a city rich in history, Düsseldorf is also a very modern city. Many of Germany’s largest companies and a host of international corporations can be found here, making this a frequent stopping point for business travellers, many of whom opt to stay at hotels near the airport. For tourists visiting the city, the Media Harbour (MedienHafen) area of the city offers some of the most unique architecture you’re likely to see anywhere in the world: the Neuer Zollhof buildings. These wacky constructions look as though they’re twisted, and are well worth a quick snap or two. You’ll also find the Rhine Tower (Rheinturm) here. Head up to the observation deck to enjoy spectacular 360-degree views across the city. Another modern feature of the city is the Embankment Promenade. The tree-lined promenade flanks the River Rhine and houses cafés, bars, restaurants, boutique stores and other treats. So peaceful is the promenade that you wouldn’t know it was built above one of Düsseldorf’s busiest roads.
Keeping Busy in the City
With theatres, galleries, parks, a vibrant nightlife and much more easily accessible from your hotel, it’s not hard to keep yourself busy during a trip to Düsseldorf. Popular daytime destinations include Schloss Benrath, an historic palace that looks every bit as impressive today as when it was built in the 18th century; the botanic gardens at the University of Düsseldorf; and Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in nearby Essen. Travellers that enjoy a quiet stroll should head for the Hofgarten or Nordpark, both of which are spacious and picturesque parks. Nordpark is also home to a beautiful Japanese garden and a separate lily garden. Sports fans can catch a football match at Esprit Arena or an ice hockey game at the ISS Dome, while professional basketball, baseball, rugby and handball can also be found within the city. Come night time, Düsseldorf’s bars, pubs and beer halls liven up, while nightclubs throw open their doors to locals and tourists alike. Culture vultures can catch opera and ballet at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, while live theatre is performed at Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus.
Art and Fashion
Düsseldorf is renowned for its art galleries and high end fashion. It’s reported that there are more than 100 art galleries within the city, exhibiting everyone from local artists to world-renowned masters. Visit the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen and Museum Kunstpalast to see works of Picasso, Caravaggio, Warhol and Pollock, before checking out the cream of the local crop at Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, where artists exhibit their work in a tunnel. Düsseldorf is considered by many to be the fashion capital of Germany, with fashion shows a commonplace occurrence. If you’re into shopping (or window shopping), the famed Königsallee, or Kö as its known to locals, is home to boutique stores, designer showrooms, upscale shopping centres and elegant shops. It’s easy to while away an afternoon checking out the clothes and jewellery on display here. If you’d prefer something a little more reasonably-priced, Schadowstraße offers standard high street chains and modest local shops.
Whilst Düsseldorf is a lively destination all year around, certain seasonal events see the level of hustle and bustle amplify. Each July, the city hosts the Largest Fair on the Rhine, which is one of the biggest annual events in all of Germany. Millions of visitors enjoy the Ferris wheel and many other rides, while beer tents and food stalls are aplenty. As in other parts of Germany, Karneval is another massive occasion. Starting on November 11, this epic carnival sees a variety of prearranged events and celebrations throughout the winter, leading up to a massive parade on Rose Monday (just before Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday). As many as a million people attend the vibrant and colourful parade. Towards the end of November, the Christmas market arrives in the city, together with hordes of tourists. If you’re planning a quick overnighter to take advantage of the Düsseldorf Christmas market, booking a hotel near the airport may be beneficial. At least that way you won’t have to haul your luggage in and out of the city centre.