Dortmund is the largest city of Westphalia and lies in Germany’s largest metropolitan area, the Rhine-Ruhr. It is known for it’s football team Borrussia Dortmund, and for being an average industrial city, producing coal, steel and beer. During WWII Dortmund was the most bombed as a single target, resulting that many of the historical buildings are gone. It is one of the most sustainable and digital cities today.
The city center is really compact, considering the size of the city.
The main historical landmarks in the city center are St Petri Church (Petrikirche, from the 1300s with a tall gothic spire opposite the main station, at 105m it is the city’s tallest building), St Reinhold’s Church (Reinoldikirche, late Romanesque Lutheran Protestant with gothic spire, built 1233-1450), Church of St John the Baptist (Propsteikirche, has no tall tower) and St Mary’s Church (Marienkirche, city’s oldest church, 1170-1200, protestant). Altes Stadthaus (the Old City Hall, that has an old renaissance part and a modern glass part with atrium) is situated at Friedensplatz (Freedom Square), opposite the New City Hall (Rathaus). Here you also find the beautiful Friedenssäule column. Dortmund U-Tower is a famous landmark, an art deco highrise with a huge neon “U” and shifting billboards on top. Built in 1927 as a brewery, it is now a culture center.
The tallest churches are situated along the main pedestrian street, Westenhellweg, where you find brand stores as P&C and H&M and the historic Krüger-Haus, that has a beautiful passage. Hansaplatz is a main square next to Westenhellweg with markets and department stores. Large malls and department stores, like Galeria Dortmund/Karstadt and the postmodern Hansa Carré (a skybridge connects these two) can be found here. Markt is a small square next to it. Thier-Gallerie is a large shopping galleria in the city center that opened in 2009 with nearly 100 stores.
The Main Station (Hauptbahnhof), that opened in 1847, rebuilt in 1952 after the war (it has 16 platforms) and the large futuristic building from 2015 that is German Football Museum (Deutsches Fussballmuseum) are right next to each other and just a few blocks away from the central shopping district. The curvy back RWE-Tower, Dortmund’s tallest skyscraper (105m to the spire, offices) from 2005 is situated here as well, next to the postmodern and architecturally interesting City and State Library. Signal Hochhaus, or IWO-Hocchaus, is a 20-storey glass highrise from 1964. Katharinentreppe are the stairs that leads up to the pedestrian streets from the station. Kampstrasse is another main steet. DOC (Dortmund Center for Medicine and Health) is a white modern building along Kampstrasse. A ring road, road 54, encircles the whole city center, that is only about 1km wide from East to West.
Stadtgarten Dortmund (City Park) is a nice park with a beautiful waterfall fountain with sculptures called Gauklerbrunnen, in the South end of the city center. Opernhaus is the futuristic curvy opera house that is home to Dortmunder Philharmoniker, just next to this park, at Platz der Alten Synagogue. Here you also find the brown modernist residential building Hansa 101.
Dortmund has a vibrant nightlife with restaurants, clubs and bars. The city has one of Germany’s largest and oldest annual Christmas markets. Dortmund Port is Europe’s biggest canal port, an artificial inland port opened in 1899. Lake Phoenix, Kaiser Hill and Oldtowne Hörde are examples of nice places in the outskirts.
I visited Dortmund only for half a day, part of the 9 euro railway trip (taking train within Germany for just 9 euro, starting in Rostock). The initial purpose by visiting Dortmund was to get a nice hotel for a low price, that was near Cologne and Düsseldorf. But I decided to also make sightseeing, visiting the city center and the Football Museum. I found the 4-star Hotel Unique Hauptbahnhof, that is a very elegant with chandeliers, marble stairs, marble columns and so on. It has 127 rooms on 6 floors, and the interior is, as the name intends, unique, oriental and extra-vagant but almost tacky. It was built in 2009 and the red brick building was illuminated in purple when I arrived at night.
The room was really big and nice, like a suite. The bathroom even had two sinks. But it had no AC, and it was 38 degrees outside, the heat in the room was unbearable, making it hard to enjoy the elegance! I also had to open the windows and there was a lot of noise from the traffic. The breakfast was amazing and had a good variety. The staff was nice and offered me snacks late in the evening so I didn’t have to go out.
I arrived in the hotel late in the evening, from Düsseldorf, taking the metro to the hotel despite it was just a few blocks from the train station. It was very dark outside and didn’t know if it was safe. So I had about half a day to explore the city, before going further to Essen and Bonn with the almost free train. Dortmund feels like an average city that has some nice churches and modern highrises, an average pedestrian street and some landmarks. The Football Museum, opposite the main station, is one of the most spectacular attractions. I visited it, and the entrance fee was quite expensive. Friedensplatz was a nice place to visit with it’s market stalls with fruits, fish, bread and also rare stuff like waffles.
The skyline is quite good with European standard, with tall buildings right in the city center. Didn’t have the opportunity to visit the tallest structure though, the 211m tall TV tower Florianturm , built in 1959 and has an observation deck.
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