Local Towns around Düsseldorf

Urban spaces close to the state capital

Written by Philipp Schiwek and last edited by Garry on

 

Düsseldorf may be the capital of the state of North Rhine Westphalia but it is far from being the oldest settlement in the region. Smaller and often quainter, the variation of landscape and building materials vary quite remarkably, giving each place a somewhat unique appearance. The towns of Neuss, Ratingen, Krefeld, Mönchengladbach and Solingen surround Dusseldorf and with their history and structure they can be considered interesting examples of German town development.

Neuss

Next to Dusseldorf on the western bank of the Rhine lies one of the oldest cities in Germany. Neuss, with 150,000 inhabitants is a medium-scale town and is growing constantly. Its history goes back to the time of the Romans and even today it is possible to admire the historical Kybele site from the 4th century. The main landmark of Neuss is, however, the basilica Quirinus Munster. This late-romantic church was built at the beginning of the twelfth century and is an imposing building. The unusual museum Insel Hombroich is also very interesting. Situated in a park meadow, terrace scenery of 12 pavilions has been created. In these buildings, themselves an art form, artworks are shown.

Ratingen

Ratingen is to the east of Dusseldorf and in the northwest foothills of the Bergisches Land. With just 93,000 inhabitants Ratingen is a small to medium-sized town. It is already so old that the first settlements are no longer noticeable. A real museum treasure is the Industrie museum Cromford. With the help of the first factory in the whole of mainland Europe, the cotton-spinning mill Brügelmann, the early industrialisation and the introduction of factories is impressively explained. The town also offers nature, parks and recreation areas that include two large lakes.

Solingen

A little further to the southeast of Hilden, there lies the industrial town of Solingen, known internationally for its knives. Entitled the Klingenstadt (Blade Town), the town name is a protected brand name for high-class knifes and shears. Some 90% of the German knife industry is based in Solingen. Geographically, Solingen is placed in the Bergisches Land but culturally Solingen still belongs to the Rhineland. The city itself is a union of several boroughs so it has no real town centre but many small centres. Walking through Solingen, the contrasts of rural and urban scenery as well as industry and living spaces are striking. Many green areas, which were once the deserted brook valleys between the boroughs offer recreation oases in the middle of the town.

Mönchengladbach

To the west of Dusseldorf is the borough of Mönchengladbach, which originated in 1975 from the union of the towns of Rheydt, Wickrath and Mönchengladbach. With 270,000 inhabitants it constitutes an urban centre on the left of the Lower Rhine region and this signifies the atmosphere of the town; it offers many parks and woods to maintain its rural charms. A very nice sight is the moated Rheydt castle. It is embedded in ditches and surrounded by a typical landscape in the Lower Rhine. The football club Borussia Mönchengladbach is also a trademark of the town.

Krefeld

Northwest of Dusseldorf lies Krefeld, bordering on the Ruhr Area. It was the European centre of silk and velvet production during the 18th and 19th century. The hockey fan knows Krefeld due to the Krefelder Penguins. Animal lovers visit the Krefelder zoo with its 1,300 animals. Some unfortunately also know of the Krefelder Klinikum medical centre, which ranks amongst the ten best in Germany. Cycle paths lead straight through the centre, enabling the town to be experienced from several angles. The landscape protection areas, windmills and districts of Uerdingen and Hüls form a contrast to the main centre.

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