The area of North Rhine-Westphalia has produced some famous people even before the state was founded. They have left tracks worth pursuing in their home region.
Poets and thinkers of pop culture
Kraftwerk, Heine, and Annette von Droste-Hülshoff
Nena, Kraftwerk, or “Die Toten Hosen”: North Rhine-Westphalia is the home of a variety of different bands and music styles. The web app Sound of #urbanana permits individual exploration of more than 150 pop-culture stations in Cologne, Düsseldorf, and the Ruhr Area. In Cologne, for example, there is the band Can, among a great many others. It is deemed a krautrock icon. Stations in Düsseldorf include the former studio of band Kraftwerk and the former Ratinger Hof, the birthplace of German punk and new wave. Hagen in the Ruhr Area presents Nena and Extrabreit, and Bochum has the guide move from Herbert Grönemeyer all the way to Frida Gold.
“I do not know the reason why…”, Heinrich Heine wrote. The poet who authored the world-famous Lorelei song came from Düsseldorf. He was born in an old-town house back in 1797. The building now houses a literary book shop. The Heinrich-Heine-Institute very close by keeps his memory alive with an archive, library, museum, and numerous events. The only Heinrich-Heine museum in the world, it shows manuscripts, first editions, and letters, contemporary portraits, and Heine’s death mask.
Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, born on Burg Hülshoff near Münster in 1797, built a monument to her home with her literary work. Germany’s pupils know her from reading her novella “The Jew’s Beech”. Like many other of her works that reached world renown, it was written in the solitude of the Rüschhaus near Münster. Starting in June, a new “poetry way” will not only connect Burg Hülshoff to Haus Rüschhaus, but also merge culture with nature in stations along the roughly ten-kilometres-long path where visitors can discover how literature, nature, and culture have changed since Droste’s times. Plans include artistically designed break sites, listening stations, vantage points, text panels, and interactive media islands.
Artists and composers
Max Ernst, Beuys, and Beethoven
This year, Joseph Beuys is moving into the spotlight specifically, as NRW has chosen to illuminate him as a person and artist, as well as his ideas and works, from different angles to celebrate his 100th birthday. From the building where he was born, to his first studio, important works, or museums and galleries that made his work famous early on, places that were essential to his life and work are connected by a cycling route to be athletically experienced. Titled “Beuys & Bike”, a route on both sides of the Rhine offers an active break with culture.
Beethoven recently made the news more frequently as well: 2020 saw Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday. His birthplace, Bonn, and many other towns involved continue their festivities to honour the composer with concerts, plays, and other campaigns until September 2021. The building where he was born, for example, now a museum that houses the world’s largest Beethoven collection, is showing a new permanent exhibition and invites to various events. Beyond this, a Beethoven round trip brings the composer to life in his direct environment. Bonn itself has eleven stations where an app provides information on the everyday life, biography, and work of young Beethoven. Another eleven stations lead to sights and into nature in the area.
Very close by, specifically in Brühl, expressionist Max Ernst was born. The Max-Ernst-Museum there is the only one world-wide that can look back on about seventy creative years of this exceptional artist. The three-winged classicist building very close to Augustusburg Palace used to be a popular destination for excursions that Max Ernst liked to visit in his youth as well. Its collection comprises paintings, drawings, and collages, as well as more than 70 bronze plastics and sculptures. More than 700 photographs and documents from his time supplement the work with information on the artist’s biography.
Discoverers and world champions
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen and race-car driver Michael Schumacher
More detailed views of the life of Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen are provided in the Bergisches Land – and they don’t even need the X-rays he discovered. The German Röntgen museum in Remscheid’s Lennep quarter is not limited to the discovery that led him to world renown. Visitors to the museum can take action on their own, try things out, and go exploring – while looking over the scientist’s shoulder from research to application of his rays. The winding alleys and idyllic half-timbered houses in Lennep are worth a round tour as well. The physics Nobel Prize winner’s birthplace is just a stone’s throw away from the museum.
Children seem to be born with petrol in their blood here at times: the two Formula-One pilots Michael and Ralf Schumacher hail from Kerpen in the Rhein-Erft district. Anyone who wants to follow in their racing tracks can get behind the wheel in the Michael Schumacher Kart & Event-Center. Everything that makes racing sports so very fascinating can be found on the indoor and outdoor tracks, including driver training, single coaching, and a children’s kart school. The first karts, later cars, trophies, and other memorabilia from the private collection of Michael Schumacher can be viewed in a permanent exhibition in Cologne. Motorworld Cologne–Rhineland, a new event location on the premises of the former Cologne airport Butzweilerhof, exhibits these special highlights for all fans of Formula One. The conference and meeting rooms, the monument-protected reception hall, the themed V8 hotel, and the large event square in hangar II, offering space for up to 4,000 guests, also focus on the subject of cars.
www.ms-kartcenter.de | www.motorworld.de/koeln-rheinland