Dusseldorf, an offbeat holiday
Dusseldorf is oft overlooked by most tourists when they visit Germany. I wouldn’t have thought to visit Dusseldorf either, if it weren’t for the hometown of two of my closest friends from University. Having said that, I did enjoy my time there, and I feel it would be nice to visit Dusseldorf to get away from the hordes of tourists that you will encounter in the more popular cities like Frankfurt, Berlin, or Cologne.
I liked Dusseldorf for its quiet, yet cosmopolitan feel (it is one of the most wealthiest cities in the country), but I didn’t feel like it was overly crowded, or noisy. (This could also have been because I stayed at my friends’ home, and not in town at a hotel or hostel like I usually would do) But I had a great time nonetheless, and if you visit this beautiful city, I’m sure you will too!
1. Make a quick visit to the Neander Church (Neanderkirche)
This baroque style church was built in 1687, and when in the Altstadt area, make a quick stop here to check it out.
2. St Lambertus Church
Though it is one of the oldest buildings in Dusseldorf, people flock to it to look at an architectural feature that it acquired just around 200 years ago-Its slanted roof. In the early 1800’s the roof of the church was damaged in a fire. The story behind it, is quite interesting as well- apparently during the fire, the locksmith (Joseph Wimmer) in charge of hanging the bells in the church climbed to the roof of the building and hacked the burning wood down with his axe. Wimmer and the firefighters extinguished the fire after three hours. In 1935, a plaque was installed in the church to mark the 75th anniversary of his death.
The rebuild of the roof is said to have been with unseasoned timber, which may have led to the slant. Other theories are that the weight of the lead used in construction, and the usage of dry wood which shrined over time.
Other than its interesting architecture, it is famous for housing the remains of St. Apollinaris, the city’s patron saint.
Now for the popular myth behind the slanted roof:
It is said that the leaning roof of the structure was twisted by the devil in a a fit of rage. He wanted to remove the entire church from its location, but only succeeded in twisting its roof.
And get this! Apparently the roof will straighten itself only when a virgin marries within the walls of the church!
St. Lambertus church is a minor basilica, and is known for the tomb of Duke Wilhelm V of Julich-Kleve-Berg.
3. Pop by the Schlossturm
The Schlossturm or the Palace tower is the remnant of the castle of the Counts of Berg, & Dukes of Julich-Kleve, who once ruled Dusseldorf and nearby areas. The castle burnt down in a fire in 1872, and the remains were cleared by 1878, but the watchtower, since it was unscathed in the fire still stands today as a reminder of the bygone era. Today, the Schlossturm is a maritime museum that exhibits illustrations, models, & artefacts of ships over a 2000 year time period. The top floor has a cafe with beautiful views of the Rhine, and the city below.
Tip to help in orientation The St. Lambertus Church & the Schlossturm are right next to each other, and visiting both (or if you would prefer to just photographing both from the outside), won’t take much time. If you aren’t interested in the maritime museum, head straight up to the cafe, to enjoy a cup of coffee with a fantastic view!
4. Take a walk through the Alstadt
The Alstadt is the historic town of Dusseldorf, and the place to go to satisfy your hunger (or your thirst). It is also called the longest bar in the world! No, it’s not just one bar that they have there. There are almost 300 bars in the Alstadt, but supposedly, the bar counter in every bar is connected to the one of the bar next door! How cool is that!
The Alstadt has beautiful historic buildings which house
5. Try the Altbier
The Altbier is a variety of top fermented beer brewed in Dusseldorf. The Altstadt is the best place to try Dusseldorf’s very own brew.
6. Fall in love with Konigsallee
Konigsallee is where nature and shopping come together! The tree lined street is home to luxury and high street shopping, and is one of my favourite places in Dusseldorf (it’s a toss up between the Altstadt and Konigsallee). There are benches along the street where you can just sit and people watch, or even read (if you can read in a crowd), beneath the shade of the lush trees around.
The benches are the ideal place to take a break from shopping (or window shopping) as well.
7. Schloss Benrath
This mansion from 1770 is on the outskirts of town, and is worth a visit, if you are an architecture buff. The mansion was built for the Elector Palatine Charles Theodor & his wife, Countess Palatine Elisabeth Auguste of Sulzbach, and is now a museum. The mansion can be rented for private events as well ( in case you have a fancy soiree you want to organise! )
8. Explore Kaiserwerth
A short train ride away from the city centre, Kaiserwerth is totally worth the day trip. For those who love roaming through streets with centuries old homes painted in pastel hues, this is the ideal place to be. Not only does it have beautiful architecture, Kaiserwerth has many cute cafes where you can while your time away. The 11th century St. Suitbertus Basilica on Stiftsplatz, Kaiserwerth Krankenhaus (the hospital that Florence Nightingale first started working in), Klemenplatz Market, and much more!
9. Go up the Rheinturm
The 240.5m tower is the tallest in Dusseldorf, and has an observation deck that is open to public from 10AM-11.30PM. Go up to the observation deck for expansive views of Dusseldorf!
10. Explore the arts district!
Head to the Flingern district to explore street art that will blow you away! The buildings are bright & colourful and have beautiful artwork on them. This is the kind of place I love exploring!
11. Walk (or bicycle) along the Rhine
Walking along the Rhine will take you all through the city, but I went off the tourist route (only because I was staying at my friends’ place), and that was one of my favourite things to do in Dusseldorf! Away from the crowds, and the noise, near my friends’ home, was lush greenery, and the calm of the Rhine. It is the best place to sit down with a picnic, or a book, or even for some quiet reflection & meditation.
12. Eat as much as you can!
One of the oldest restaurants in the city, and an absolute favourite of ours, is Pinocchio, an Italian restaurant-which my friends consider the best Italian food in the world! So definitely give this place a visit, if you are in town.
I also found the best hot chocolate! I don't remember the name of the cafe I visited in the Klemensplatz, Kaiserwerth area, but they had a huge variety of flavoured hot chocolate, and I'm just too disappointed that I couldn't try all of them! They were such gourmet combinations in dark, milk, and white chocolate-I really wish I had a cup of it right now!
Dusseldorf has amazing bakeries as well, and it will be a shame if you miss out on trying some of the cakes and breads while you are in town.
I also had a an amazing Bratwurst from the street in the Altstadt area- and it lived up to all my expectations of what a German Bratwurst would be like! So if you pass by a food cart-stop them and give it a try!
13. Find the Stadterhebungs Monument
The monument was built in 1988 by Bert Gerresheim to commemorate the award of city rights to Dusseldorf. It was built for the 700th anniversary celebration of Dusseldorf. In the bronze sculpture, the sculptor has depicted the Battle of Worringen & the seal of the decree of the city.