The German city of Düsseldorf was practically destroyed during World War II. This did not prevent it from turning its tragic history to become, during the last decade, one of the urban centers with the best quality of life in the world.
Located on the banks of the Rhine River, Düsseldorf has a population of 645,000 inhabitants (another 1.2 million in its metropolitan area) and is considered one of the country’s economic engines.
The city, which has beautiful river beaches, is known for its colorful Carnival and for having established itself as Germany’s fashion capital.
Among the top attractions to see in Düsseldorf are: the Old Town, nicknamed the longest bar in the world, the exclusive Königsallee street, the Rheinturm tower viewpoint, Burgplatz, the K20 Museum and the Karlsplatz food market.
Nothing remained of the Old Town after the Allied bombing during World War II. The quarter was almost 90 percent reconstructed, respecting the old walls and traditional buildings as they were before they were destroyed.
In the old town of Düsseldorf is one of the first places to see in Düsseldorf as is the Burgplatz or Castle Square, which shines its beauty on the banks of the Rhine, while in the Markplatz is located the colorful building of the Town Hall (Rathaus), a faithful copy of which was built during the sixteenth century and ended in ruins in 1945.
When the sun goes down, the Old Town is transformed into a great center of nightlife. It is estimated that about 250 bars operate in the Alstadt, where locals and tourists come to enjoy the famous German beer. Düsseldorf’s pubs are reputed to be the liveliest in Germany.
The Burgplatz is an emblematic place to see in Düsseldorf. It has several attractions worth visiting, such as the Navigation Museum, one of the oldest in Germany, which operates inside the Tower of the former Palace of the Count of Berg (Schlossturm). There is also the Fountain of the Acrobat Children, as well as the Monument of Privileges.
At the end of the year, Burgplatz welcomes one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in the country, with dozens of food stalls and free beer tap, as well as being one of the focal points of the Düsseldorf carnival parades. In the center of the square stands the equestrian statue of Jan Wellem, a historical figure of the city.
The Rheinturm (Rhine Tower) is an old communications tower that was built in the late 1970s and is one of the great attractions to see in Düsseldorf. It is 240 meters high and has the best viewpoint in Düsseldorf, on the 168th floor. There is also a revolving restaurant on the 172nd floor, from where the 360-degree views are incredible.
On the observation deck is the M168 bar, a very cool place to have a drink at sunset, while down below you can see the Alstadt, the beautiful Rhine and the vast Hofgarten park. Admission is 9 euros.
St. Lambert’s Basilica
The Basilica of St. Lambert is one of the great symbols to see in Düsseldorf because of its characteristic leaning tower, reminiscent of the Tower of Pisa. This temple was originally built in the 14th century, in a Gothic style.
Although it was destroyed during the Second World War, the building was rebuilt preserving the detail of the leaning in its tower. An ancient legend (which is a source of jokes among the locals) tells that the tower will stand straight again the day a young virgin marries in this temple.
The Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen Museum, also known as K20, is one of the best modern art museums in Germany and one of the recommended places to see in Düsseldorf. It is divided into two sections (K20 and K21, two buildings connected by a minibus), which concentrate an impressive amount of Germanic art and paintings by great artists of all times, such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Paul Klee.
Two carnivals compete to be the most fun in Germany: those of Cologne and Düsseldorf. While the former is a traditional celebration, in Düsseldorf the party is modern and almost always crazy. It is an event that no one wants to miss starting on February 6, the day chosen to toast with plenty of Altbier beer and shout the famous carnival greeting: Hellau, Hellau!
Thousands of people take to the streets of the city center and on Carnival Monday more than a hundred parades of floats and dancers take place. Many of the activities are concentrated on Königsallee, Düsseldorf’s most important shopping street, which is closed to traffic for food stalls and beer marathons.
The Benrah Palace is located 10 kilometers from the center of Düsseldorf, surrounded by a beautiful park. It is a majestic baroque palace of three bodies, designed at the end of the XVIII century by Nicolas de Pigage, a prestigious French builder.
In the central wing is the summer residence of its main inhabitant, Prince Charles Theodore of Bavaria, together with his wife, Countess Elisabeth Augusta of Sulzbach. The left wing houses the European Museum of Garden Art, while the east wing houses the Museum of Natural History.
Düsseldorf is considered the German fashion capital and the country’s top designers are concentrated here. The street that concentrates the best stores, as well as the most elegant hotels in the city, is called Königsallee, known by the locals as Kö. The most renowned brands of design and fashion have their stores in the Königsallee (many of them in the shopping center Gallery), escorted by a beautiful canal with rows of trees and bridges that cross it.
At the northern end of Königsallee street unfolds one of the most beautiful parks to see in Düsseldorf, called Hofgarten. It is a large area of 27 hectares, the main green lung of Düsseldorf and one of the oldest parks in Germany. In the center of this space is the bucolic Landskrone Lake, surrounded by fine sculptures. In addition, between May and September, the Hofgarten offers a busy schedule of open-air concerts.
The district of Kaiserswerth is one of the oldest and most recommended neighborhoods to see in Düsseldorf, located north of the city. It is a very picturesque area, with baroque houses of the seventeenth century on the banks of the Rhine, full of cafes and bars where craft beer is served. Among the attractions of the neighborhood are the ruins of the Kaiserpfalz, a palace complex of the tenth century, as well as the Basilica of St. Suitberto, which was built from the eleventh century in a late Romanesque style. Historians claim that Düsseldorf was born in Kaiserswerth.
Volksgarten and Südpark
In addition to the Hofgarten park, Düsseldorf has two large green spaces, Südpark and Volksgarten, created during the 19th century. Both have ponds, children’s playgrounds, miniature golf and beautiful gardens to stroll in the sun. Also worth mentioning is the Nordpark, which is located away from the city center, with a zoo and a beautiful Japanese garden.
The Rhine is a river of great historical importance for Germany and in particular for Düsseldorf. The city has a beautiful river promenade, called Rheinuferpromenade, closed to vehicular traffic after many years. Today, it is a pedestrian promenade for leisurely strolling (locals and tourists visit it for sunbathing or exercise), with dazzling views of the Burgplatz and the Rhine Tower.
The Carlsplatz Markt is a friendly food market with typical German products, from sausages and cheeses to fruits and flowers. It is recommended to visit it at lunchtime, because it has a sector of stalls with delicious homemade food. Those who have lunch here will be able to try one of the typical dishes of this part of the Rhine region, called Sauerbraten, a roast meat marinated in the famous Düsseldorf mustard, accompanied by abundant sauerkraut and potato salad.
Flingern is currently the most artistic and bohemian chic district of Düsseldorf. It is a residential area, without the attractions of the Old Town but with numerous art stores, jewelry stores and cafes author. It is recommended to stroll through the streets Birkenstraße, Ackerstraße and Beethovenstraße, where the best gastronomy and the workshops of the designers of the moment are concentrated.
The Zollverein was a coal mine that was founded in 1847 and was once one of the most important industrial centers in Europe. The mine has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site and is part of the European Industrial Heritage Route.
Opened in 1932, the so-called Shaft 12 of the mine was built in Bauhaus style, with great architectural beauty, which earned it the nickname of the most beautiful coal mine in the world. Today, the modern Ruhr Museum is housed in the former coal washing plant, with permanent exhibits that tell the story of this mighty industrial complex.
Another of the fantastic neighborhoods to see in Düsseldorf is the Niederkassel district. Here you will find an unusual center of Japanese culture called Ekô-Haus. This place, frequented by the large Japanese community living in Düsseldorf, has a Buddhist temple and a traditional tea house. It is a very good plan to visit the Ekô-Haus to disconnect from German culture and feel, for a few hours, in the country of the rising sun.