DUSSELDORF, GERMANY: Düsseldorf is another Rhenish city of Germany situated by River Rhine. This is a Mecca for arts, culture, and shopping. Just enjoy, relax, and go for a stroll by the river or get lost in the windy streets of old town. Promenade is the trendy place to look over the pretty water body. Visit Gehry buildings in Media Harbor to see some masterpiece transparent architectures with bold curves and cubes.
TIME of TRAVELING: We took a mini-Germany trip in a long-weekend of May, 2013. My aunt was here with us from Baltimore, MD. Düsseldorf was our first city to visit in this trip, later we visited Bonn, Frankfurt, and Heidelberg. Luckily that day turned out to be a nice one with some sun shine and without black clouds. Düsseldorf is only a little more than 2 hours of drive from Tervuren, Belgium…so close, but never made it there in the last 2 years of our stay in Europe.
OUR HOTEL: We stayed about 15 minutes walking distance from the old town. It was called A&O Hotel/Hostel. It was like a in between a hotel and a hostel. But the setting was really except my aunt complained that she had hard time sleeping for too much outside noise. It didn’t have breakfast or free Wi-Fi in the room, nor a restaurant in the building. It looked like a place for the young travelers with pool table and some other activities in the lobby. Our room was nice and clean with moderate space.
EATING and SHOPPING: Old town is definitely a great place for meals or drinks, especially area around Schneider-Wibbel-Gasse. We didn’t sit down for anything here, was only drooling by looking at those . Same with shopping, old town had many boutiques and unique stores. Koningsallee is another perfect place for shopping if you have few hundreds of euros to spare in your pockets…it’s the fashion district of Düsseldorf with many upper-class exclusive shops.
PLACES WE’VE VISITED: I wouldn’t stay all the attractions in Düsseldorf are within walking distance. If you are into just old town, like us, then it’s all good. But other sites are scattered all around the city. We only had a day to spend here. It wasn’t enough but we only concentrated on the old town this time which was a fantastic experience.
1) OLD TOWN: The old town of Düsseldorf was heavily destroyed during WWII and was later rebuilt according to the original plan. Therefore, the old district looks historic but with a hint of new attitude. For the tourists, don’t forget to look around and check every corner for beautiful buildings, statues, and street performers. This place has many small alleys which are loaded with tons of shops, cafes, restaurants, and pubs. Düsseldorf old town is very big compared to many other old towns in Europe. You can spend hours just wandering around in its cobblestone alleys eating, shopping, or just getting lost.
2) ST. ANDREAS CHURCH: This was our first stop in the old town. It wasn’t in our to-see list. It was free to enter, so we just took a chance of going inside. This Renaissance style church was founded in 1629. Interior is pleasantly decorated with all whites.
3) SCHNEIDER-WIBBEL-GASSE: This is a small lane in the old town which is packed with restaurants and bars. All the old buildings here were turned into restaurants, most of which offer Spanish or Latino food. Looks like the cool crowd of Düsseldorf love to gather here for fun…absolutely the best place for meal.
4) CASTLE TOWER in BURGPLATZ , CARTWHEELERS’ FOUNTAIN, and CITY MONUMENT: Burgplatz or Castle Square is a big and lively square near St. Lambertus Basilica in the old town next to River Rhine. Once there stood a Baroque castle which was burned down in the late 19th century leaving a tower behind intact. Castle Tower or Schlossturm, now a navigation museum, is located in one side of the square.
Cartwheeling is a popular activity among the young crowds here…they even have annual competitions of this “sport” in Düsseldorf. There is a Cartwheeler’s Fountain in Burgplatz which is about a little boy cartwheeling while another one watching him.
City Monument at Burgplatz, near St. Lambertus Basilica, was a donation on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of town foundation. The monument is full of symbols and depicts some important histories of the city. Right beside the monument is a small river, Northern Dussel, which gave the city its name.
5) ST. LAMBERTUS BASILICA in STIFTSPLATZ: Stiftplatz is a calm and warm square that houses some nice old buildings and couple of cafes. Walk a bit further and you will see the Lower Rhine Gothic style St. Lambertus Basilica with its brick exterior and soaring tower. The basilica has some uniquely pattered stained-glass windows with elegant interior decorations. This is probably the oldest building in Düsseldorf, dating back to 1159 or even further back.
6) PROMENADE by RIVER RHINE: Promenade by River Rhine near old town is one of the most beautiful promenades in whole of Germany and a wonderful place to spend late afternoon. This is a long stretch of pathway…nice for a short walk. It offers an amazing view of the river, bridges, and Rhine Tower. This was our last spot in Düsseldorf. Sitting on the green grass by the river bank watching local crowds was a perfect way to end the day.
7) MARKTPLATZ, CITY HALL (RATHAUS), and STATUE of JOHANN WILHELMS II: Marktplatz is located next to Burgplatz in the old town but not as lively as Burgplatz. The square houses the historic city hall of Düsseldorf from the 16th century. There is a guided tour available few times a week which we didn’t take.
Marktplatz is dominated by a monument of Johann Wilhems II (1658 – 1716) on horseback in front of the city hall. He is a beloved son of Düsseldorf who boosted the development of the city. The monument was raised in 1711.
8) KONINGSALLEE: This is the “Champs-Elysees of Germany” as some people refer this street to which is the shopping district of the city with high-end fashion stores (like Burberry, Armani, Tiffany, and Louis Vuitton etc.), many brand names shops, and few mid-range places… I am sure you can find something within your budget. Even if you don’t buy anything this street is a very nice one for taking a stroll by a small river. At one end of it has an entrance to the old town.