North Rhine-Westphalia

North Rhine-Westphalia sights

North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is the federal state with the highest population and is located in the west of Germany. NRW borders on Belgium and the Netherlands. The state capital is Düsseldorf. The most populous city, however, is Cologne. Bonn, the former capital of West Germany before reunification (1949-1990) is also located in NRW. With Düsseldorf Airport and Cologne/Bonn Airport, North Rhine-Westphalia has two relatively large airports.

The Ruhr area is also located in NRW and is the most populous region in Germany. In former times it was a large mining region, today many disused slag heaps have been converted into great industrial monuments.

Sights in NRW

In the following I will show you a various sights with short descriptions and a few photos. To make sure you know where to find them in NRW, I have marked all points on a map:


The Externsteine are sometimes also called the German Stonehenge. However, this is a natural and prominent sandstone formation. The comparison is due to the fact that the window in the stone here is precisely aligned to the summer solstice. It is a mystical place, which also had a cult effect in the past. Today it still has a great attraction, especially on Walpurgis Night (30 April) and at the summer solstice.

The Externsteine are definitely worth a day trip. The rocks are great to look at. Over a staircase in the rock you can also reach the top. From the surrounding woods/park there are great photo motives.

The Externsteine are located in the east of NRW, near Paderborn. You can find some more information here: The official page of with the entrance fees is unfortunately only available in German, but can be found here:

Cologne Cathedral 

The Cologne Cathedral is a UNESCO world heritage and one of the most visited sights in Germany. The Cologne Cathedral is located directly at the train station. So if you travel by train, you will arrive directly at your destination. The Cologne Cathedral can be visited free of charge. Only to go up the tower and to visit the treasure chamber a fee is charged.

The typical postcard motif of Cologne Cathedral can be seen on the other side of the Rhine. Just cross the Hohenzollern Bridge, which is decorated with countless love locks. The most beautiful photo you will get when the lights of the Cologne Cathedral are switched on at dusk.

More information about the Cologne Cathedral can be found here:

Gasometer Oberhausen

The Gasometer in Oberhausen is my favourite sight in NRW. I have been there several times. About every 2 years there was a new highlight at the Gasometer. Since my first visit I saw the “Big Air Package” by Christo, a kind of huge walk-in balloon, then “Der schöne Schein” (the beautiful shine), a 320° light show, then “Wunder der Natur” (wonders of nature) with a 20m large and animated globe and finally “Der Berg ruft” (the mountain is calling), with a big sculpture of the Matterhorn. Additional to the highlights there was a corresponding photo exhibition with really breathtaking pictures on large canvases. And not only the exhibitions are fantastic, but also the view from the roof of the 118m high Gasometer.

Due to renovation work, the Oberhausen Gasometer will unfortunately remain closed until at least spring 2021. I am already curious what will be the new highlight after the reopening. You can find more information here:

Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura is a room with a hole. Through the hole light falls and projects an image. The principle is also used in simple pinhole cameras and was formerly used by painters to draw landscapes to scale. In Mülheim, in the old water tower of the railroad is the largest walk-in camera obscura in the world. There is also an exhibition on the history of film with flip-books, shadow puppets and other old tools. A little tip, even the largest Camera Obscura lives on light. When the weather is sunny, the image projected into the interior will be much better, but in cloudy, grey winter weather the image is only faintly visible.

The Camera Obscura is located directly at the edge of the MüGa Park, a nice green area in Mülheim, so that you can combine a visit with a little walk.

The website with additional information is unfortunately only available in German:

Roman Park Xanten

Colonia Ulpia Traiana was the name of the Roman city whose ruins can be found in today’s Xanten. The LVR Archaeological Park Xanten is Germany’s largest archaeological open-air museum. In addition to the original foundation walls and exhibits in the museum, you will also find replicas here, which were built on a scale of 1:1 at their former location and with the former construction method. Excavations are still taking place on the site today. The area and also the museum are relatively large, so you should bring enough time with you.

A bit of Roman history in NRW and quite nice. But of course it cannot be compared with a trip to modern Rome.

You can find more information here:

Landscape Park Duisburg-Nord

The Landscape Park Duisburg Nord is a collection of former industrial buildings and a highlight of industrial culture. The area is freely accessible and there is a lot to discover. You will always find new ways and photo motives. There is also a lookout point on the top of the blast furnace 5 at 70m height. From here you have a great view over the park and the surrounding area. The park is definitely interesting during the day, but even more fascinating at night. Friday, Saturday and Sunday (check the park’s website again for possible changes) a great light installation is switched on after dark and the park shines in the most beautiful colours. Take your camera and tripod and great photos are guaranteed. 

By the way, there is more to see here besides the free outdoor park. In the gasometer of the landscape park there is a diving centre and the largest indoor diving in Europe. There are also some large halls, such as the power plant or the casting hall. These are used for cinema or concert events, but also for small trade fairs such as the Photo & Adventure. You won’t find big photo novelties at Photo & Adventure, but you will find many small live lectures about travelling and photography.

You can find more information about the park here:

More information about Photo & Adventure here:

Tiger & Turtle

Tiger & Turtle is located in the south of Duisburg. It is a huge steel construction with the shape of a roller coaster. But there is no roller coaster running here. Instead of rails you’ll find stairs to walk on. Only the part with the looping is closed for walking. Tiger & Turtle is located on a former slag heap, so that you have a good view from above. It’s best to visit Tiger & Turtle when it’s dark, because 880 LEDs will light up the construction.

Slag heap Haniel

The Haniel slagheap is located in Bottrop and is one of the highest slag heaps in the Ruhr area. On the way up is also a representation of the Way of the Cross, which is why the slag heap is especially on Good Friday very popular. At the top you will be rewarded with many colourful wooden poles and a great view.

Slag heap Hoheward

The Hoheward slag heap is located in Herten. It is the astronomical slag heap of the Ruhr area. You can find an obelisk which is can be used as a huge sundial. It is best to come on a sunny day, so that you can actually see how the sundial works. There is also a horizon observatory. With it you can follow the course of the solstice. Unfortunately there were cracks in the sculpture shortly after the opening of the horizon observatory. Since then (already many years) there is a dispute who is responsible to repair the monument. Therefore the observatory is surrounded by construction fences.

At the foot of the slag heap near the Ewald colliery is a visitors’ centre. You can find more information here:

Slag heap Rheinelbe

The Rheinelbe slag heap is located in Gelsenkirchen. To get there, you first take a path through the woods. But don’t worry, later the forest thins out and you can walk up the slag heap. At the top of the slagheap is the stairway to heaven. You will be above the treetops and can look into the distance.

Slag heap Rheinpreußen

The Rheinpreußen slag heap is located in Moers. At the top of the slag heap there is a nearly 30m high tower construction in the shape of a miners lamp. It is difficult to say whether it is better to visit this place during the day or in the evening. During the day it is possible to climb up to the viewing platform of the oversized miner’s lamp. In the evening, however, the lamp actually shines.

More information about the lamp with the opening hours of the platform and the times of illumination can be found here (only available in German):


The slag heap Beckstraße is located in Bottrop. Never heard of it? Don’t worry, because almost nobody knows the name of the slag heap. But the monument on the top is ver famous. On the slag heap, from which you already have a great view, there is the Tetrahedron. This is a huge steel pyramid with 3 viewing platforms. If you go up here you should be free from giddiness. The uppermost platform of the Tetrahedron is at 38m height, mounted diagonally and swings in stronger winds. 

Zollverein Colliery

The Zollverein Colliery is located in Essen. It is considered the most beautiful coal mine and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site 2001. The site itself is freely accessible at all times. Various museums are located in the buildings. The Ruhr Museum showing the history of the Ruhr area, the Red Dot Design Museum and the interactive Phänomania Experience Field. There are also special events from time to time.

You can find more information about the Zollverein Colliery here:

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