The most populous of the German states with approximately 17.5 million inhabitants has long been considered Germany’s blue-collar workplace or rather, as the “land of coal and steel”. The traditional heavy industry in the state, particularly in the densely populated Ruhr area, has suffered through many crises and has forced this part of Germany to undergo a fundamental structural change, which has in some places not yet been completed, resulting in comparatively high unemployment rates in some cities. The state’s capital is Düsseldorf, the state’s largest city is Cologne. Dortmund, Essen, Duisburg, Bochum, Wuppertal, Bielefeld, Bonn
In terms of travel ideas, the cities of the Ruhr area like Bochum, Dortmund or Essen make a fascinating stop for travelers looking to discover a country and its people. But North Rhine-Westphalia has a lot more to offer – among others, there are wide open spaces, the beautiful Rhine area and several hill ranges with no shortage of natural beauty.
Formerly a part of the Holy Roman Empire, the area left of the Rhine became French in 1795. Later, Prussia received most of what is today the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which was formed by the British administration after World War II. North Rhine-Westphalia was established in 1946 after World War II from the Prussian provinces of Westphalia and the northern part Rhine Province (North Rhine), and the Free State of Lippe by the British military administration in Allied-occupied Germany. North Rhine-Westphalia became a state of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949, and the city of Bonn served as the federal capital until the reunification of Germany in 1990 and as the seat of government until 1999. The state however consists of culturally different regions which needed considerable time to form a common identity. The state shares a border with the neighboring countries of Belgium and the Netherlands.
It is expected that North Rhine-Westphalia’s population will decrease in the future. Today, only a quarter of the total population lives in a family setting, almost 40% of households consist of only one person. More than 22% of the inhabitants have an immigrant family background, about 11% have a nationality other than German.
The state is not known for its castles like other regions in Germany. However, North Rhine-Westphalia has a high concentration of museums, cultural centers, concert halls and theaters.
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The city of Cologne’s twin-spired Cathedral is a Gothic landmark with views of the Rhine River. The adjacent Museum Ludwig showcases 20th-century art. The state capital, Düsseldorf, is known for its elegant shopping boulevard Königsallee and the soaring, modern Rheinturm tower. Outside the city, Schloss Benrath is an 18th-century palace with gardens and a museum.
Once you stand in front of the imposing structure of Cologne Cathedral, you’ll understand why it is the most visited landmark in the whole country, with thousands of visitors every day. This gem of Gothic architecture is also the tallest twin-spired church. No wonder it took over seven centuries to finish this outstanding architectural masterpiece.
Even if not a religious person, you should not miss the opportunity to peek inside and marvel at the magnificent decorations and works of art that adorn this cathedral. Worth mentioning are, for example, the Gero Crucifix from the 10th century, The Shrine of the Three Kings, and beautiful stained glass windows.
The Augustusburg and Falkenlust Palaces form a historical building complex in Brühl, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, which has been listed as a UNESCO cultural World Heritage Site since 1984. The buildings are connected by the spacious gardens and trees of the Schlosspark. Augustusburg Palace and its parks also serve as a venue for the Brühl Palace Concerts. The Max Ernst Museum is located nearby.
The palaces were built at the beginning of the 18th century by the Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, Clemens August of Bavaria of the Wittelsbach family. The architects were Johann Conrad Schlaun and François de Cuvilliés. The main block of Augustusburg Palace is a U-shaped building with three main stories and two levels of attics. The magnificent staircase was designed by Johann Balthasar Neumann.
The Historical City Hall of Münster was one of the theaters of the negotiations of the Peace of Westphalia which concluded the Thirty Years’ War in Europe and the Eighty Years’ War between Spain and the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. It was the site of the Peace of Münster of 1648.
Located in the center of Prinzipalmarkt, it is the city’s predominant landmark – besides Münster Cathedral.
Having been destroyed during World War II, it was rebuilt true to the original from 1950 to 1958.
Aachen Cathedral is claimed to be one of the oldest cathedrals in Europe and was constructed by order of the emperor Charlemagne, who was buried there after his death in 814. For 595 years, from 936 to 1531, the Palatine Chapel, heart of the cathedral, was the church of coronation for thirty-one German kings and twelve queens. The church has been the mother church of the Diocese of Aachen since 1802.