Düsseldorf's old town (Altstadt) is the heart of the city and the most famous attraction in Düsseldorf. The city of Düsseldorf was founded here in 1288. From 1386 Dusseldorf became the residence of Duke Wilhelm I. That was about the time when the old town was built. Previously, the settlement was only a village on the creek called Düssel.
There has never been a medieval old town, like in Cologne or Nuremberg. Düsseldorf's old town is famous for its pubs. There are several pedestrian zones with almost exclusively bars and restaurants. That is why Düsseldorf's old town is jokingly called the longest bar in the world. The main street of the old town is called Bolkerstraße, it lies between the market square and Heinrich-Heine-Allee. The poet Heinrich Heine lived on Blokerstrasse.
The Düsseldorf City Hall (Rathaus) is located on the market square, between the old town and the Rhine. The town hall occupies the entire block and consists of many individual buildings that were built at different times. The oldest part was built in 1573 and was redesigned in 1749. The Old Town Hall (photo) is the brick building in the Renaissance style on the north side of the market square. The equestrian statue of Johann Wilhelm Herzog von Jülich-Berg is on the market square. Gabriel Grupello's equestrian monument from 1711 is a landmark of Düsseldorf and is called "Jan Wellem" by the locals.
After the city of Düsseldorf was founded in 1288, the count had a castle built at this place. Over the centuries, the castle became a palace that burned down several times and was rebuilt over and over again. When the Düsseldorf Castle burned down in 1872, it was decided to not rebuild it, as it no longer served a prince and had been used as a university for many years. The ruin was torn down, only the castle tower was restored.
The construction phases can still be seen on the castle tower. The lower three floors date from the 13th century, the fourth was built in 1552 and the fifth floor, with the round arches, was added in 1845.
On Burgplatz you can find other sights of Düsseldorf. Here is the Radschlägerbrunnen, hidden under trees. The wheel rackets are a symbol of Düsseldorf and appear on manhole covers and as door handles.
There is also a Persil watch on the square. Persil is a detergent from Henkel, based in Düsseldorf.
The castle tower is also on the Rhine promenade, there is a wide staircase directly at the tower that leads down to the river walk. When the weather is nice, many people sit on the steps, which is why it is also called the "Spanish Steps".
The Königsallee is the most famous shopping street in Düsseldorf and the widest boulevard in Germany. The Kö is 87 m wide and thus around 17 m wider than the Champs-Élysée in Paris.
The Königsallee (Kings Alley) was created in 1804 when the city wall of Düsseldorf was broken down. First, the 30 m wide moat was built, which today forms the central axis of the Königsallee with bridges and trees. Walkways on the water make this part a promenade. Large bank buildings, hotels and commercial buildings stand on the west side of the avenue. The east side of the Kö is the well-known shopping street with many shops and luxury boutiques of international brands.
The Rhine embankment in Düsseldorf is a promenade along the river that stretches from the old town to the media harbor. There is an upper and a lower path. The lower path is located directly on the Rhine, the upper path is a plane avenue at the height of the city. There are stairs between the two levels. The best known is the Rhine stairs at the castle tower. There are restaurants on the lower Rheinpromendae, here are also the piers of the Rhine shipping companies. From the bank of the Rhine you have the famous panorama of Düsseldorf with the Rheinkniebrücke and the Rhine tower in the back ground.
The Medienhafen Düsseldorf is located south of the city center. The area was a normal harbor until 1980, when harbor basins were filled in and the Rheinturm and the WDR broadcasting center were built on the new land. The state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia also moved to the new district in 1988. From 1990, office buildings and hotels were built at the commercial port. The media harbor has interesting buildings by famous architects such as Frank O. Ghery, William Alsop, Helmut Jahn, Claude Vasconi, Steven Holl, David Chipperfield and others. There are numerous cafes, restaurants and bars by the water.
Benrath Palace is one of the most beautiful sights of Düsseldorf. The baroque palace is located in the Benrath district, around 12 kilometers south of the city center. Benrath Palace was built in 1771 for Elector Carl Theodor von Pfalz-Sulzbach. The French architect Nicolas Pigage designed the building as a summer residence and hunting lodge. The elector visited his palace only once, after which it was mostly empty. After 1815, Benrath Castle belonged to the Prussian royal family, who liked to use the pretty castle on the Rhine.
The castle is separated from Benrath by the castle pond. The castle is reflected in the water and at the same time obscures the view of the baroque palace park. Behind the pink building is a 450 m long water basin, the Speigelweiher. To the west of it is a densely forested, square park with a round meadow in the middle (Jagdstern). From here you can look into the 8 axes that run straight through the park. At the southwest corner, the park affects the banks of the Rhine. To the east of the Speigelweiher is a small baroque garden and an herb garden for the kitchen.
A visit to the castle is only possible with a guided tour. Check the link for opening times and prices.
How to get there
Benrath Palace is easily accessible by public transport. U 71 and U 83 run from the city center directly to the castle. The Düsseldorf-Benrath S-Bahn station is around 500 m away.