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Nordrhein-Westfalen is one of Germany's 16 federal states, located in the western part of the country. The state neighbors Lower Saxony to the north and northeast, Hessen to the east, Rhineland-Palatinate to the south, and the countries of Belgium to the southwest and the Netherlands to the west. Geographically, the northern part of the territory is primarily flat, whereas the hilly landscape represents the southern and southwestern areas. The elevated southern territory is protected by Eifel National Park, which is shared across the borders with Rhineland Palatinate and eastern Belgium. The Rhine Ruhr industrial region is comprised of the following cities: Bonn, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Dortmund, and Essen, all of which constitute the central part of North Rhine–Westphalia. Rhine-Ruhr is one of Germany's largest agglomerations, but most importantly, the country's industrial headquarters. Located to the south of the industrial region is the city of Cologne, which serves as one of the region's predominant cultural attractions. Surrounded by the cities of the Rhine-Ruhr industrial region is the Neandertal excavation site, another world-famous attraction within the Nordrhein-Westfalen borders. Neandertal is the place where the first excavation of the Neandertal branch of human predecessors was found.
Nordrhein-Westfalen territory is best known for the Rhine-Ruhr industrial region, which is composed of significant cities such as Bonn, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Dortmund, and Essen. Approximately 10 million people live in the Rhine-Ruhr. Thus, the region is one of the largest metropolitan areas in Europe. Aside from the population, Rhine Ruhr also forms Germany's "industrial heart" and is classified as one of the ten largest economic regions in the world. Historically, steel, mining, and automobile production played a significant role in the region's development. Nowadays, other branches of industry, such as health, information technology, transport, and logistics, are contributing to the Rhine-Ruhr industrial area as well.
One of the cities comprising the Rhine-Ruhr industrial region is Düsseldorf. However, Düsseldorf also bears the role of being North Rhine-Westphalia's capital. With regard to industry, Düsseldorf is comprised of three harbors commonly used for trade. Additionally, the region's capital is a banking and wholesale center and the headquarters of numerous Rhine-Ruhr businesses. The first mentions of Düsseldorf come from the 12th century. Since then, a considerable number of historical and cultural landmarks, such as Lambertuskirche, which became the city's symbol, or the old town hall, have been preserved in the city.
In close proximity to North Rhine-Westphalia's capital is the site where the first Neandertal remains were found. The area is reportedly one of the most well-known places in the world. Excavation works of limestone were held in the territory in order to industrialize the region. However, in 1856, part of the hominid skeleton was exposed during the works. The branch of human predecessors found in the territory has been named Neandertal. Since then, a considerable number of other remains, which later proved to be part of the Neandertal family, have been found in various places across the globe. In current times, the excavation site and its immediate surroundings are one of Nordrhein-Westfalen's predominant attractions. Apart from the Neandertal Museum and the place of discovery, the area also offers a Stone Age playground and an Ice Age game reserve. Additionally, the region of Neanderland has been found to attract tourists seeking outdoor recreation, such as hiking and cycling.
Carrying the role of Germany's industrial headquarters, the Nordrhein-Westfalen landscape is covered by relatively large cities. Aside from Düsseldorf, the state's capital, there is also Dortmund, which is reportedly most famous for its football team Borussia Dortmund. To the west of Dortmund is Essen, often considered Germany's "energy capital." In the southern direction is the city of Cologne, the region's largest city, mainly known for its abundance of gothic and romanesque churches and the Cologne Cathedral. Southernmost in the Rhine-Ruhr area is Wuppertal. Besides being Germany's greenest city, Wuppertal is known for its' "Schwebebahn," or tram, which is a one-of-a-kind suspension city railway. The city of Aachen can be found on the western borders of the state. Surrounded by hills and forests, Aachen also contains several curative thermal springs with numerous baths and spas scattered across the city. Concerning the world-famous people from North Rhine-Westphalia, a composer and pianist known as Ludwig van Beethoven was born in the town. Beethoven Monument and Beethoven House Museum can be visited in Bonn, commemorating the composer's life and work.
The state of North Rhine-Westphalia is located in the central-western part of Germany, neighboring the Netherlands to the northwest and Belgium to the southwest. The prevailing part of the Nordrhein-Westfalen territory is drained by the Rhine and its tributary, Ruhr. Among other prominent rivers are the Meuse (Maas) River, Ems, and Weser. Westphalian Lowland and the Rhineland, extending to the North German Plain, represent a low-lying part of the territory, which covers approximately half of the region. Several isolated hills, such as Hohe Mark, the Beckum Hills, the Baumberge, and the Stemmer Berge, can be found within the lowland area. The elevation rises in the southeast part of North Rhine-Westphalia as the region approaches Germany's Central Uplands. Most of the southeastern area is characteristic of the Weser Uplands, composed of the Sauerland, the Bergisches Land, the Siegerland, and the Siebengebirge to the south and Egge Hills, the Wiehen Hills, the Wesergebirge and the Teutoburg Forest to the east. The highest peak in the territory is the Langenberg, at an altitude of 843.2 m above sea level.
Eifel National Park covers the southern and southeastern parts of the Nordrhein-Westfalen territory. The national park stretches across the borders of three states, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland Palatinate, and eastern Belgium. Lakes that are said to be dark blue, rivers, numerous smaller water flows, dams, and forested mountains contribute to the Eifel National Park's landscape. Additionally, the national park provides an environment for several protected species, such as wild cats and black storks. Within the national park's boundaries, a dark sky park can be found, as the local air reportedly is among the clearest and least clouded in Germany. Thus, Eifel National Park is a destination not only for tourists seeking nature recreation but also for star watchers.
Due to North Rhine-Westphalia's proximity to the North Sea and Gulf Stream, the area is affected by a mild climate. However, mountainous regions tend to be colder and more humid. The warmest month in the state's capital, Düsseldorf, is July, which has an average daily temperature of 24°C, while January is the coldest month, as temperatures tend to drop around 6°C. April tends to be the driest month in Düsseldorf, with a reported average of 50 mm of rainfall. The most precipitation occurs during July, as the month typically receives 77 mm on average.
Nordrhein-Westfalen has been settled since prehistoric times. Archeological excavations from the region shaped today's understanding of human predecessors and history. The Neandertal branch of human genealogy was first discovered within the North Rhine-Westphalia's borders, located in close proximity to the city of Düsseldorf.
Nowadays, North Rhine-Westphalia consists of two historical provinces, North Rhine; which was part of the Rhineland, and Westphalia. Rhineland was, during the Roman Epoch, inhabited by several tribes. The first written remarks about the territory were made by Julius Caesar, who tried to occupy the region. However, the tribes were never entirely under Caesar's control. By 973, the environment had become part of the Holy Roman Empire. During that time, Rhineland split into several smaller independent regions, often invaded by the French. Despite the conditions, Rhineland became one of the most prosperous German territories and later became part of Prussia. The other province that currently contributes to the Nordrhein-Westfalen's territory is Westphalia, which was part of the Duchy of Saxony during the Middle Ages. Later, it became part of Prussia as well.
After the Second World War, both provinces were part of the British occupation zone. On August 23, 1946, Great Britain established the Nordrhein-Westfalen federal state in what was known as "Operation Marriage." In 1947, today's territorial layout was achieved. Nordrhein-Westfalen is currently Germany's most populous territory. Europe's largest conurbation, the Rhine-Ruhr area, is the country's most notable industrial region, producing most of Germany's energy, as coal and lignite are mined in the area. Additionally, in the early 21st century, North Rhine-Westphalia became the leading region among Germany's high-technology centers, with many enterprises and brands residing there.
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