A few towns such as Neuss, Ratingen, Krefeld, Mönchengladbach and Solingen are all to the south and south-west of the Ruhr Metropolis. With their history and structures they can be considered interesting examples of midsized town development in NRW.
On the western bank of the Rhine to the sourh-west of the Ruhr 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.
Ratingen is to south of Mülheim and der Ruhr 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.
A little further to the southeast of Ratingen, 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.
A little farther afield to the south-west of the Ruhr Metropolis 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.
Not too far across the Rhine from Duisburg and bordering on the Ruhr area lies Krefeld. 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.