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The cheerful Rhine

With the cathedral city of Cologne begins a region famous for its Rhineland cheerfulness. Cologne is unquestionably its capital - of this there is no doubt, particularly at Carnival time below the gothic cathedral. You can also have fun in the Phantasialand theme park (see picture) near Cologne, where some 35 attractions and shows take your breath away. If you want to learn something about history, the best excursions are to Brühl with its rococo palaces Schloss Augustusburg and Schloss Falkenlust, both UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Düsseldorf#s hallmark is its cosmopolitan charm. The flair of its elegant shopping boulevard, the "Kö", also perfect just for a stroll, is famous the world over, as is the pulsating life in the narrow back streets of the historic old town with its countless pubs and restaurants as well as the varied cultural scene. By bike you can explore the Rhine on the "Erlebnisweg Rheinschiene", a discovery tour which takes you both up and downstream alongside a river which has now already reached an impressive width.

Where the Sails of the Windmills turn

The countryside along the Lower Rhine is flat and yet very varied: broad riverbank meadows, lakes, secluded forests, asparagus fields and orchards. And it has plenty of history to which the numerous churches, monasteries, castles, palaces and windmills are testimony. Krefeld, a centre for the silk industry, is one of the region's main towns. It is here that you can admire the world's biggest street fashion show on 21st and 22nd September 2001. At the mouth of the Ruhr lies Duisburg, a city which has successfully transformed itself in an impressive way from a centre of heavy industry into a centre for the service industry. Skilfully illuminated industrial sites fill their visitors with enthusiasm, the inner harbour has been turned into an attractive sport boats harbour and the former harbour warehouses, "Küppersmühle", are now home to modern art, which also influences the cityscape (see picture).

A broad Horizon where the Rhine bids farewell

Once you have had a look around Wesel, a former fortified Hanseatic town, you can let your gaze roam freely across the wide meadow landscape. Among the small but beautiful towns of the region Xanten can be recommended for a visit. Referred to in the Song of the Nibelungen it has an Archaeological Park with finds from Roman times, the Cathedral of St. Victor and, if you wish, you can anjoy water sports and fun on Xanten#s northern and southern lakes. Then we continue along the Lower Rhine Route, Europe's densest network of cycle tracks, through the typical polder landscape to the proud town of Kleve with its old castle, the Schwanenburg. After the old trading town of Emmerich the Rhine bids farewell to Germany and heads off through the Netherlands.