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Exploring Dusseldorf Old Town

Tiny, charming Dusseldorf Old Town, (Dusseldorfer Altstadt), is just half a square kilometre in area and is known to the city’s residents as the ‘longest bar in the world’ for its 300 discos and bars. Its quaint old buildings, cobbled streets, pretty clock tower and small squares hold the city’s ancient Town Hall, the fine Basilica St Lambertus, the traditional Marktplatz, (Market Place) and are home to the famous autumn festival, the Altstadtherbst. The event draws ten of thousands of visitors and is a don’t-miss for lovers of micro-brewed beer and German sausages.

The district around the Old Town is home to a good number of interesting museums, set adjacent to each other and close to the Breidenbacher Hof Hotel and the Steigenberger Parkhotel. The oldest is the Stadtmuseum, giving a history of the city from its earliest days, and the Art of Theatre Museum traces the city’s 400 years as a hub for the performing arts. The unique Mustard Museum celebrates Dusseldorf’s favourite condiment, as strong and delicious as the city itself. On the bank of the Rhine River in pretty Castle Square is the last remnant of a grand baroque palace – its central tower.

Sights nearby

Largely rebuilt after WWII, the Old Town nevertheless gives visitors to this quarter the sense of stepping back in time. Some of the city’s best shopping and drinking are here, alongside attractions such as historical brewhouses.

Old Town breweries
The Altstadt’s famous strong, copper-coloured Altbier is brewed in the district, and sold direct from the barrel in the hundreds of bars, pubs and discos. The Zum Uriger brewpub is famous for its version of the beer, which is similar in taste to the popular Belgian beers. Anther pub-brewery is the Brauerie im Füchschen, where you can buy take-out bottles or even barrels of the home-brewed the amber nectar.

Market Square
Although WWII put paid to most of the original Old Town buildings, post-war renovation aided by old city plans has returned the district to its exact condition before the war. The Town Hall, or Rathaus, is the most imposing building in the district’s charming central market square, and would have dated to around 1573. A fine equestrian bronze of Count Jan Wellem, Duke of Bavaria fronts the Rathaus, and the quaint town clock tower is placed in the centre of the square.

Basilica St Lambertus
St Lambertus is Dusseldorf’s largest church, and the Old Town’s architectural highlight. Built in the early 13th century, its twisted spire is visible form all over the city. Other fine Old Town churches well worth visiting are Neander Church and St Andrew’s Church.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

Balkerstrasse in the Old Town’s centre is the pedestrianised hub for countless bars and restaurants offering not only the highly-rated local brews but also beers from all over Germany and cuisines from all over the world. Rhenish specialities, American meat-heavy grills, Italian, Spanish, Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines are all here, served in the rustic gastro-pubs as well as in restaurants. For that special occasion, the Michelin-starred Weinhaus Tante Anna in its 16th-century cloister setting is the perfect choice. Konigsallee features small boutiques and department stores, while the latest trends are better sourced in Flingern. Mustard and local liquor are popular souvenirs.

Public transport

If you’re staying in one of Dusseldorf’s city centre hotels such as the Best Western Savoy, getting to the Old Town is a short journey by subway, tram or bus. Tickets are bought at streetside machines, unfortunately offering instructions and details only in German although place names are easily recognisable. In the central area, all trips are short, taking less than half an hour, and attracting the cheapest rate. Taxis are easily found, but are expensive, and those staying in the suburbs can use the S-bahn suburban rail network to the city centre and the metro on to the Old City.

Duesseldorf travel guides