Historical highlights or eye-catching graffiti, a cosy atmosphere or party mood, Prussian splendour or half-timbered house on the riverside: North Rhine-Westphalian towns of all sizes come with streets too good to just pass through. They have properly conquered our hearts with their very individual idiosyncrasies – to the point where we would love to stay there forever.
Tip 1: Düsseldorf, Lorettostraße
This street forms the heart of the eponymous Lorettoviertel in the south of Düsseldorf. That heart speeds up its beat on certain occasions: The people who live and work here are forever organising street festivals and concerts – including digital ones during the coronavirus lockdown period – and decorating their street with colourful flags or lights to match the season, even when there is nothing specific to celebrate. Family, creative people, and gastronomists all live in cordial proximity here, making visitors feel welcome to the Loretto community right away. By the way, it’s worth to stop on the pavement during a stroll: If you let your eyes wander and listen well, you may be able to spot and hear one of the green parakeets that have made their home on the Rhine for years.
Half-timbered houses on the river
Tip 2: Essen, Ruhrstraße
Half-timbered houses with black beams, white walls, and grey slate roofs line Ruhrstraße in Essen-Kettwig, which lives up to its name and runs parallel to the river Ruhr for quite a stretch. On its route through Kettwig’s old town, it passes galleries and boutiques, medieval half-timbered buildings, churches, and the Tuchmacherplatz with its fountain and church steps. The latter represent a historical escape route as they once formed one of the four fire alleys between the river Ruhr and the upper village. The buildings on the church steps are among the oldest medieval ones in the city. Further 20th and 21st century pieces of art can be discovered on a stroll here as well, thanks to the Skulpturenpark Kettwig, an ever-growing open-air gallery.
Hospitality with retro charisma
Tip 3: Cologne, Merowingerstraße
This street in Cologne’s Südstadt district serves as the backdrop for a shopping spree during the day with stops at small boutiques, an ice cream parlour, cafés, or the “Eier- und Käsekönig” store; in the evening, there are various restaurants and pubs to invite you in. You might get stuck here and spend the entire night without once leaving the street. The small “Hotel am Chlodwigplatz” offers personal hospitality with retro charisma. Hailing from the “Veedel”, as the people of Cologne call their districts, themselves, the owner families have lovingly renovated this listed building. The in-house café bar “Armer Ritter” serves breakfast as well as coffee and homemade cakes. A detour to Chlodwigplatz, where Merowinger Straße starts out, is also worthwhile. This is where the Severinstorburg, once a gate of the medieval city wall, and still well preserved today, can be found.
Murals and a cosy atmosphere
Tip 4: Mönchengladbach, Waldhausener Straße
This street brings spots of colour to the old town of Mönchengladbach. Oversized murals adorn many facades here. Ateliers and small shops add further bright colours and, at times, sounds. The Vinyl Garage, for example, a well-stocked non-profit record shop, offers both used records and selected new releases. More than just a place for coffee and cake, the Kulturcafé Köntges is a space for social, artistic, and cultural projects and events. Remember to look up between the rows of houses here and there to spot the retro lampshades suspended above the street everywhere. There is something going on here day and night as the street serves as both a party mile and a sort of living room, depending on its section and the time of day.
Tip 5: Detmold, Krumme Straße
In fact, the Krumme Straße (“crooked street”) in Detmold is not the only place where things are a little “crooked”. Lovingly restored half-timbered houses in the Weser Renaissance style are spread throughout the historical old town of the university town in East Westphalia with ornate gables, oriels, and decorative mouldings with inscriptions and coats of arms that make every house unique. Unlike in the museum, however, Krumme Straße is always busy, and can be experienced up close. Small fashion and gift shops include the “Strumpfkästchen” and a hat shop, as well as a bookshop called “Kafka & Co”. When the first rays of sunshine come out, cafés and bistros will put up chairs to give their guests a chance to enjoy the half-timbered art at their leisure.
Coffee, chandeliers, and Kaiserbrunnen
Tip 6: Dortmund, Kaiserstraße
Old buildings in art nouveau style, owner-run shops, cafés, and restaurants line Kaiserstraße in Dortmund, which is popular among all age groups. The Kaiserbrunnen is a meeting place for people from the neighbourhood and guests alike, as it has been for 120 years. Everyone can enjoy the sunshine on its steps, along with the soothing splash of water, while they watch the bustle in the street. If hunger strikes, the Hexenkessel, a burger joint not affiliated with any chain that serves vegetarian and vegan burgers as well, or Café Lotte, which offers coffee, cake, chandeliers, and ceiling paintings, are available nearby. The products offered at Pott au Chocolat will melt on your tongue: Handmade chocolates and many other cocoa-bean products present the sweet side of the Ruhr region here.
Historical and trendy
Tip 7: Aachen, Bismarckstraße
Young and trendy meets old and dignified here: Student life, cafés, and pubs blend wonderfully with the listed old buildings, myths, and legends in the Frankenberger Viertel. Though the offering in Bismarckstraße varies from place to place, its first half is stuffed with beautiful highlights that have captivated our hearts. One of these jewels is the Frankenberger Burg castle, elevated a little above the street in a park with a playground. It serves as a civic and cultural centre today. In particular in good weather, a vast variety of people will meet up here to play, picnic, chat, and relax –often with some ice cream from the Öcher Eis-Treff in their hands – another highlight of this street. Just a few steps away from the park, the ice cream parlour offers a deliberately small but highly refined range with classics and surprises, such as tomato ice cream with a hint of basil. Small but very refined eye-catchers include the flower decorations that are attached to the lampposts now and then.
A Prussian gem
Tip 8: Schmallenberg, Ost- and Weststraße
The old town of Schmallenberg is a prime example of Prussian planning: Following a town fire in 1822, this town in the Sauerland region was rebuilt symmetrically based on strict classicist rules, with two parallel streets connected by cross streets. The Ost- and Weststraße parallels continue to represent not only the framework but also the heart of the city today, where locals and guests alike will go on extended city strolls in front of a historical half-timbered backdrop. In addition to a vast selection of owner-operated shops, cafés, and restaurants, hotels offer a bed for the night here as well.
www.schmallenberger-sauerland.de | www.schmallenberg-direkt.de