With its breathtaking architecture, cathedrals, and amazing beers, North Rhine-Westphalia is one of the best regions in Germany. If you are close to Belgium or the Netherlands, you have to spare time to check out the highlight cities of this cool region! So if you have a week, here is your guide for North Rhine-Westphalia!
The capital of North Rhine-Westphalia, Düsseldorf is the economic center of Germany with its banking, telecommunications, advertising companies and of course with its trade fairs. This posh city is one of the wealthiest cities in Germany but not only being the economic center of Germany, the city also offers great cultural activities and fashion! This modern city was almost completely destroyed during the World War II (like every other German cities), so there are few old buildings left, but what makes this city more interesting for tourists is the modern architecture of the new buildings. Starting your trip from Old Town or Altstadt is highly recommended since it is very famous. Sadly the whole town was destroyed but it was rebuilt according to its old plans and today it looks exactly like its old times. The Old Town is a great shopping center and it has more than 250 bars and cafes! The nightlife is pretty amazing in here as well. Don't forget to drink "Altbier" -which is a top-fermented dark beer- in here since it is very famous in Düsseldorf. The second stop must be the promenade, where you can take a walk on the bank of Rhine, soak the sunshine in your bones, have a coffee from the many coffee shops in here and enjoy the artsy designs reflecting the waves on the river. If you want history with the touch of green, you have to check out the Benrath Palace and Park. This palace was constructed in 1770 and its rococo style is amazing. After being mesmerized by the palace, you can hang out in the massive 62,000 square meters park! And more fashion of course. You can slide your credit card like you are sliding into your crushes DM and have fun shopping time at Königsallee. This street is the main street of Düsseldorf which is actually two street divided by a canal. This street has all the high-level international stores which is why people called here the Champs-Élysées of Germany! If you want a 360-degree view of Düsseldorf with your not very cheap but delicious dinner, you have to visit the Rhine Tower. This tower is 240 meters high and at the 172 meter, there is a restaurant. The entry of the tower is 9 €.
With its Gothic churches, chocolates, liberal people and of course its rich history, Cologne (Köln) is Germany's most visited city by tourists! It is the fourth largest city in Germany and it is also Germany's media and tourism hub. There is a great number of immigrants of Polish, French, Turkish, Russian and many more which makes a great diversity in this wonderful city. Cologne is a fascinating place with lots of wonderful sightseeing! First of all, let's praise the architecture of Kölner Dom. This beautiful cathedral is also protected by UNESCO. It is the first sight you will notice if you take the exit of the main station. If you have comfortable shoes and trust your breath, don't forget to take 509 stairs to go top of the South tower! Trust me, it is worth it. Also, the entry is free to the Dom but a little donation to the cathedral won't hurt anyone :). Köln Triangle is the tallest building in Cologne with its 103,2 m grandeur. It is definitely a landmark in Cologne and you can enjoy the panoramic view on the observation deck! Another fascinating birds-eye view you can get is from Cologne Cable-Car! You can get to see the most attractive spots of the city on air! It is a great family-time opportunity or a romantic time with your boo if you go up while the sun is setting.
One of the most cultural city in the Germany, Bonn is the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven! This old capital of Germany is only 20 km away from Cologne and mostly preferred for large exhibitions. But it also offers fantastic beer gardens and lovely cafes. The world's one of the greatest composer was born in a cute town house in 1770 and today the house is used as a museum. In this museum you can find his letters, notes, paintings, instruments and even his hair. :D And don't forget to buy a souvenir from the gift shop! To get a little bit insight of the city, you have to check the Münsterplatz where the famous Münster Basilica stands gracefully. This gothic church is open from 7 am till 7 pm and it is in the city center. Inside the church, a very nice smell welcome you because of the centuries of incense burning! On the same square where the church stands, you can also take a picture with the Beethoven Monument! If you are interested in German history after 1945, you should check Haus der Geschichte. The exhibitions are in German but you can get an English booklet or a guided tour for a few euros. Don't forget that the museum is not open on Mondays. You can tour the museum Tuesday-Friday from 9 am till 6 pm and on weekend 10 am till 7 pm.
With its world-famous breweries and Borussia Dortmund football team, Dortmund is a cute city with a great history in the North-Rhine Westphalia region in Germany. The city's name was first mentioned in the 9th Century! Dortmund suffered greatly during the Thirteen Years' War in the 17th Century, so today, sadly, there are not many ancient buildings. But still, you can enjoy 18th-19th Century buildings like churches. The center of this lovely city has lots of impressive stores where you can buy everything that you can ever imagine. You can also visit the Thier-Gallerie which is the first mall of Dortmund. You can also enjoy various traditional food in here. But don't forget to drink Stösschen which is a traditional beer. This "liquid gold" has a higher percentage than other beers, so it is served in small cups. Also if you don't want to get drunk so easily, you can order Salzkuchen mit Mett ,which is a seasoned bagel with raw pork and onions, and Mettente ,which is a smoked sausage with mustard. You can also find lots of different kinds of sausage and traditional beer in every restaurant! Since the football is very important in Dortmund, you can visit the "Westfalenstadion", the biggest stadium of Germany, which is definitely the highlight of the city. For cultural activities, you can first visit the "Hohensburg", where you can see the ruins of the Syburg dated back to 1100! The second stop must be the Romanesque church, "Marienkirche" ,which is the oldest church of Dortmund, where you can see the Marienalter from 1420 and the Berswordt Altar from 1385. For more history, you can check out "Mahn- und Gedenkstätte Steinwache" or "Steinwache' Memorial and Museum" in English. In this former police station, you can see the Nazi prisons where over 66,000 people were imprisoned, tortured and killed. You can also see the exhibit about Dortmund during the Third Reich. You can also smell more than 3000 rose species in "Rosarium" in Dortmund.
Germany's seventh largest city, Essen, is very popular with its famous UNESCO listed coal mines, Krupp family, and a great history. The city's history began during the 9th Century but it became a very important coal mining town during Renaissance. If you want to check out the world's most beautiful coal mines with a famous Bauhaus architecture, you have to check out Zollverein Coal Mine. This mine is also in UNESCO World Heritage List and a very popular tourist attraction. This industrial heritage also has a design center and several other museums. To reach this place you can take the Tram 107 from Hauptbahnhof/Central railway station. Check out the Old Synagogue that survived the World War II. After 1980, this historical landmark was used as a Jewish Cultural Center. If you want to get to know the Krupp Family better, you have to check out Villa Hügel. This impressive chateau is not just a living history, it also hosts an art museum and a concert venue! And another plus: you can also take a peaceful walk in the chateaus amazing garden after visiting Villa Hügel.
Duisburg is an important city for Germany's hot metal and pig-iron production and furthermore it is also a great commerce center with its world's biggest inland harbor! This western Ruhr city is mainly focused on steel industry but it still has very nice museums for contemporary art and history lovers! If you want to check out collection of globes and maps made by Gerhard Mercator-aka the inventor of atlas- you have to check out Cultural and Local History Museum in Königsberg! The Küppersmühle Museum is also another must see museum in Duisburg, if you are into contemporary and modern art. You can find this museum in a former brick warehouse! If you want to visit the cute dolphins or koala bears, you have to visit the Zoo Duisburg. Inside the zoo, you can also get to see the amazing collection of primates!
Aachen, a Baroque city, is located at the North part of the Germany. This spa-city with great history is at the point where Germany borders meet Belgium and the Netherlands and also forming the economic region called the Euregio! In this medieval styled city, you can admire lovely buildings, gorgeous city gates, cute fountains and many more. It is not only a point where countries meet, it is also a city of where Baroque style meets modernity. Aachen is famous for it's old town and historical landmarks but the most famous one is the Aachen Cathedral. In this standing history, more than 30 Kings were crowned, 12 Queens were anointed and inside the Cathedral you can see the Palace Chapel from the year 800, the Gothic choir from 14th Century, bronze railings, golden masterpieces, beautiful glasswork and many more! This important venue for pilgrimage is on the list of UNESCO's World Heritage! Inside this amazing Cathedral, you can also get to see the burial place of Charlemagne - and his white marble imperial throne- and the cathedral treasury. Also in every seven year, you can get to see Christ’s loincloth, Mary’s cloak, the clothes used for John the Baptist when he was beheaded and clothes from when Jesus was an infant. So if you are in Aachen around 2021, you should definitely check that out too. As an art lover, it is kind of a duty that I have given to myself by myself to let you guys know all the cool and amazing art galleries and museums. (You are more than welcome) I want to let you know the two main museums that I love in Aachen. First one is the Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst! In this former umbrella factory, you can get to see the most cool pieces of contemporary art from the masters like Warhol, Immendorf, Holzer, Penck, Haring and many more! The other amazing museum is the Suermondt Ludwig Museum! If you love medieval sculptures, you will love this museum. But not only that, you can also find the best works from Cranach, Dürer, Macke, Dix and many more!
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My name is Alara Benlier, I am Turkish but currently living in Germany! I share my experiences in Germany, Turkey and the Netherlands!