Riches of the Rhine

Fine art and hearty fare in an edgy Ger­man city

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - DESTINATION EUROPE - EITHNE NIGHTINGALE

WALKW THIS WAY: Fol­low the prom­e­nade along the east bank of the Rhine from the Alt­stadt (old town) to­wards the Rhein­turm telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions tower and Dusseldorf’s old dock­land, rein­vented as a slick Me­di­enHafen (me­dia har­bour). Dis­used cranes vie with Frank Gehry’s stain­less steel “danc­ing tow­ers” and gi­ant plas­tic fig­ures, known as “Flossies”, clam­ber up dock­side build­ings. Or stroll through Hof­garten, one of Ger­many’s old­est pub­lic parks, laid out with English and French gar­dens, 200-year-old trees and a small branch of the Dus­sel, the Rhine trib­u­tary that gives the city, in Ger­many’s west, its name. More: dues­sel­dorf-touris­mus.de; me­di­enhafen.de.

HIGH TIMES: Take the lift up the Rhein­turm tower. Ad­mire the view over the city and sur­round­ing area over lunch, tea or din­ner in Restau­rant Top 180. On a clear day you can see Cologne Cathe­dral. The M 168 club and lounge, named af­ter its height in me­tres, is open un­til mid­night or 1am on week­ends. For those less keen on heights, head to the cafe above the Schiff­fahrt (Ship­ping) Mu­seum. From the top of the only re­main­ing tower of the for­mer 13th-cen­tury palace, watch con­tainer-laden barges glide down the Rhine. Look out over Burg­platz square, the twisted wooden tower of St Lam­ber­tus church and ad­mire the el­e­gant art nou­veau fa­cades of Oberkassle on the west bank. More: guen­newig.de/en/rhein­turm-dues­sel­dorf; fre­unde-schiff­fahrt­mu­seum.de.

BIG SPLASH: Start at the Kun­st­samm­lung Nor­drhein-West­falen’s K20 with mod­ern col­lec­tions that range from clas­si­cal mod­ernism to Amer­i­can pop and con­cep­tual art. There are works by Pi­casso, Cha­gall, Dali, Klee, Kandin­sky, Mon­drian, Matisse and Magritte; plus post-war Amer­i­can art by Pol­lock and Warhol, and in­stal­la­tions by lo­cal hero Joseph Beuys and wild sculp­tures by Bri­tish-born Tony Cragg, pre­vi­ous di­rec­tor of the Dusseldorf Art Academy. A high­light is the gallery of Ger­man ex­pres­sion­ists with pieces by Dix, Kirch­ner and Beck­mann. There’s a free bus to its avant­garde sis­ter gallery, K21, fo­cus­ing on in­ter­na­tional art since 1980. Don’t miss a visit to KIT, Kunst im Tun­nel (Art in the Tun­nel), un­der the Rhine Em­bank­ment Prom­e­nade, or visit other con­tem­po­rary art galleries in Flingern and Bilk. More: kunst-im-tun­nel.de; kun­st­samm­lung.de/en/home.html.

LIS­TEN UP: Dusseldorf, the adopted city of Brahms, Schu­mann and Men­delssohn, is well k known for its mu­sic. Take in a con­cert at the Ton­halle, the city’s pret­ti­est con­cert hall. There’s opera or bal­let at the pala­tial Oper am Rhein, where tick­ets can be bought two hours be­fore per­for­mances. There are free or­gan con­certs ev­ery Sun­day at 4pm in An­dreaskirche, Rhineland’s most beau­ti­ful baroque church, which is dec­o­rated with stun­ning fres­coes. For live jazz or DJs who spin un­til morn­ing, head to Dr Thompson’s in a for­mer soap fac­tory in the Flingern dis­trict. Dusseldorf is the home­town of Kraftwerk, the in­flu­en­tial elec­tronic en­sem­ble who met as stu­dents and in­spired a gen­er­a­tion of syn­the­siser groups. Ger­man-lan­guage ver­sions of their al­bums are sold at A&O Me­dien. More: do­minikaner-dues­sel­dorf.de; drthomp­sons.info; ton­halle.de; op­er­am­rhein.de; aundo-me­dien.de.

MASTER THIS: North of Hof­garten’s west end is the Kun­st­palast, an im­pos­ing 1920s build­ing that h houses a col­lec­tion of fine and ap­plied arts from me­dieval sculp­ture to present-day art and de­sign. High­lights in­clude an ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of paint­ings by Rubens, an assem­bly of old masters’ draw­ings and prints, and the Hen­trich glass col­lec­tion, con­sid­ered the most com­pre­hen­sive in Europe. Also within the com­plex is the pop­u­lar NRW Fo­rum, a key venue for con­tem­po­rary ex­hi­bi­tions on me­dia, pho­tog­ra­phy, ar­chi­tec­ture, fash­ion and de­sign. Movie buffs should visit the Film­mu­seum and watch rare flicks and silent movies ac­com­pa­nied by an or­gan player in its Black Box cin­ema. Or head to the mu­seum that forms part of the Loewensenf mus­tard shop and taste the un­usual likes of co­conut curry mus­tard or fine mus­tard choco­lates. More: smkp.de; nrw-fo­rum.de; dues­sel­dorf.de/film­mu­seum; loewensenf.de.

PUB PICKS: For tra­di­tional Ger­man fare, washed down with al­t­bier brewed on the premises, head to the cav­ernous Zum Sch­lues­sel. Or en­joy cre­ative pub cui­sine at Ohme Jupp, rub­bing shoul­ders with pro­fes­sors and stu­dents of the Dusseldorf Art Academy. Bistro Zicke, dec­o­rated with old ex­hi­bi­tion posters, of­fers a bo­hemian at­mos­phere. So­phis­ti­cated Ger­man cui­sine, amid wooden pan­els and stained glass, is served at Tante Anna, dat­ing back to 1593. Brasserie serves up ex­quis­ite food in an el­e­gant ho­tel set­ting as does Meer­bar in the red Gehry build­ing in Me­di­enHafen, which is a favourite with fish lovers. For some­thing dif­fer­ent ex­plore the Ja­panese quar­ter on Im­mer­mannstrasse near Ost­strasse UBahn sta­tion. Grab a bento box at the Maruyasu deli for a cheap lunch or in­dulge in an ex­quis­ite, Miche­lin-starred Na­gaya meal, fus­ing ten­der roast veal with as­para­gus and miso sauce. More: zum­schlues­sel.de; dues­sel­dorf-alt­stadt.de; bistro-zicke.de; tan­teanna.de; brasserie-stadthaus.de; meer­bar.de; maruyasu.de; na­gaya.de.

GOOD BUYS: Koenigsallee, with a cen­tral canal and tree-lined boule­vards, is one of Europe’s most ex­clu­sive shop­ping streets, with brands such as Gucci, Burberry and Chanel. The de­part­ment store Koe-Bo­gen, with its new Libe­skind-de­signed fa­cade, con­nects the city’s his­toric com­mer­cial cen­tre with Hof­garten Park. Ex­plore smaller de­sign and an­tique shops along the cob­ble­stoned al­ley­ways of Carl­stadt in Alt­stadt or for more un­con­ven­tional out­lets head to Flingern and Loret­tostrasse in Un­ter­bilk where shops in­clude the quirky Ro­man­tik­la­bor, voted one of the most beau­ti­ful re­tail out­lets in Ger­many by Ar­chi­tec­ture & Liv­ing mag­a­zine and where ev­ery­thing is hand­made. Heine­mann’s, be­low the shop, is an ex­cel­lent cafe sell­ing de­li­cious cakes and choco­lates, in­clud­ing cham­pagne truf­fles. More: koe­bo­gen.info; ro­man­tik­la­bor-shop.de; kon­di­torei-heine­mann.de.

ALE’SA WELL: Browse the food mar­ket open Mon­day to Satur­day in Carl­splatz and I sug­gest you sam­ple reibekuchen, potato frit­ters flavoured with apfel­sauce, a typ­i­cal snack of the Rhineland. Or buy a baguette and gouda cumin cheese from Das Kae­sep­a­radies. For de­li­cious Ger­man sausages try Ber­liner ecke. Or sit down for a glass of the city’s fa­mous al­t­bier (brown ale) and a bowl of erb­sen­suppe (pea soup) with a bock­wurst. More: carl­splatz-markt.de.

TICKETST TO RIDE: The Dusseldorf Card is the cheap­est and sim­plest way to get around. It grants un­lim­ited use of trams and buses within the city area and free or re­duced-price en­try to mu­se­ums, se­lected at­trac­tions and leisure fa­cil­i­ties. A 24-hour ticket costs €9 ($12.50); 48-hour ticket, €14; 72-hour ticket, €19. Fam­ily and group tick­ets are also avail­able. Buy from tourist in­for­ma­tion of­fices, ticket of­fices, se­lected ho­tels and mu­se­ums. More: dues­sel­dor­f­card.de; dues­sel­dorf-touris­mus.de/en/ tourist-in­for­ma­tion-of­fices. HIGH AND MIGHTY: The Hy­att Re­gency Dusseldorf is a sleek five-star high-rise in a dra­matic post-in­dus­trial set­ting over­look­ing Me­di­enHafen. At the other end of the city is Steigen­berger Park (pic­tured), a grand old ho­tel with an or­nate en­trance, beau­ti­fully fur­nished gue­strooms and a plush din­ing room where a gen­er­ous break­fast is served; it has a su­perb lo­ca­tion at the end of Koenigsallee across from the Deutsche Oper am Rhein. The Carat Ho­tel, si­t­u­ated on Carl­splatz in Alt­stadt, fea­tures a Ge­or­gian ex­te­rior and stylish, com­fort­able gue­strooms. More: steigen­berger.com; dusseldorf.re­gency.hy­att.com; carat-ho­tel.de.

Dusseldorf ’s Me­di­enHafen at night, top; el­e­gant Koenigsallee, above left; the Film­mu­seum, above cen­tre; An­dreaskirche, above right; art at Kun­st­samm­lung Nor­drhein-West­falen, be­low

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