Düsseldorf on the Rhine: the RhineTour

If you like to walk along bodies of water, prefer your coffee in a beautiful setting and want to have the best views over the Düsseldorf skyline, the following tour is definitely for you. Length: half a day, on foot.

RhineTour – the ports of call
RhineTour – the ports of call

We don’t begin directly on the Rhine, but rather in close proximity, at the culturally and architecturally important (1) Ehrenhof-Ensemble (Court of Honour) to the north of the Old Town. The complex was built in 1925/26 and is home to the Court of Honour itself – today, the Kunstpalast Museum -, and the former planetarium – today, the Tonhalle (Music Hall) -, amongst other things.

The Rhine Terraces, which are also part of the original complex, are located further to the north, in the direction of the river. If you like, you can even take a detour into the (2) Rheinpark (Rhine Park), which extends all the way down to the Theodor-Heuss-Brücke bridge: ideal for a walk, a picnic or a game of football – whether you are in a bigger group with a ball or simply join one of the teams already playing. Incidentally: barbecues are allowed, as long as you don’t damage the turf – i.e. use a proper barbecue and don’t leave any rubbish behind.

Back at the Court of Honour, we walk approx. 500m in the direction of the Old Town to the (3) Kunstakademie (Academy of Arts), which gained Düsseldorf the reputation as a city of art. In the 1930s, the “Düsseldorf School of Painting” ensured that the academy became well-known for the first time. The famous professors of the 20th century include Paul Klee, Joseph Beuys, Nam June Paik, Gerhard Richter, Jörg Immendorff, Rosemarie Trockel and Thomas Ruff, amongst others.

After a quick visit to the hallowed halls, we head to the banks of the Rhine, where a Düsseldorf icon awaits us: the (4) Sankt Lambertus church with its twisted turret roof. This unusual form is not a sign of architectural audacity, but is rather due to material failure: when the turret roof was renovated in 1815 after a fire, wood which had not yet aged enough was used in the works. After the reconstruction, the roof thus became warped. The shrine with reliquaries of the patron saint of the city Apollinaris is located inside the basilica.

The old (5) Schlossturm (Castle Tower), the only remaining part of Düsseldorf’s City Palace, is located just a bit further up the Rhine. It is a small miracle that it is still standing today: burnt out in 1882 and damaged in the 2nd world war, the building was finally completely renovated and today is home to the Schifffahrt-Museum (Maritime Museum). You can find out more information about the periods when the residents of Düsseldorf still lived mainly on, from and with the Rhine.

We now head further along the Rhine. There is a real holiday atmosphere here in sunny and warm weather: from the (6) Rhine promenade, you have outstanding views over the passing Rhine boats, the cable-stayed bridges, the Oberkassel banks of the Rhine and numerous passers-by, who also enjoy gliding along this stretch on inline skates. No other area in Düsseldorf is as popular on nice days as the promenade around Burgplatz. The cafés are also ideal for a short coffee break.

If you like, you can jump on a boat and discover Düsseldorf from the water. The Journey by boat from the Old Town to the Media Harbour takes about one hour.  After a few hundred metres, pedestrians now come to the (7) Mannesmann Administrative Buildings, built in 1911/12 by Peter Behrens as the company headquarters. The Mannesmann high-rise, located to the right, was only built in the 1950s and is one of the tallest buildings in Düsseldorf, standing at 93 metres. After the Mannesmann mobile communications arm was sold to Vodafone, the mobile network operator kept its headquarters here on the banks of the Rhine. The building complex was taken over by the Landesregierung NRW (NRW State Parliament) in 2008.

Further upstream along the banks of the Rhine, we pass by the (8) Landtag Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia State Parliament) and reach the tallest building in Düsseldorf, the 234-metre-tall (9) Rheinturm, a short while later. We absolutely recommend that you go the top of the tower: from the viewing platform, you have the best views over the city and the Media Harbour – the destination of our tour. The platform revolves around its axis once every hour. Another peculiarity of the Rhine Tower can only be admired when you come back down to the bottom of the tower. The flashing lights on the tower form the biggest decimal clock in the world.

Located slightly further inland, the glass (10) Stadttor (City Gate) is not to be missed. It is part of the Media Harbour, as is the (11) Neue Zollhof (New Customs Yard). Seeming to defy the laws of physics, the three-part construction by the architect Frank O. Gehry has become THE iconic architecture of the (12) Media Harbour, in which around 300 companies, mainly from the creative industries of media, communication and fashion, have found a home. However, don’t underestimate the gastronomic scene, which has enriched the business district with thoroughly recommended bars, bistros and restaurants. Give it a try!

You should go back to the Rhine promenade for the sunset – by boat, for example. Its location is absolutely unbeatable.