An afternoon on Nordstrasse (and its surroundings) in Pempelfort
Get to know Düsseldorf’s second-largest district while learning more about yourself and your loved one
Before we get started, we would like to offer a friendly word of advice that should be taken none too seriously: if you have no plans to get married in the coming weeks or months but think your partner may have other ideas, you would be well advised to give Pempelfort a wide berth. That’s because Kaiserstrasse is home to a series of shops dedicated almost exclusively to celebrating the big day. There are boutiques with bridal gowns, shops specialising in men’s suits, and jewellery stores offering rings in every conceivable material, colour and size that can be set with a stone or engraved with the name of your loved one. And while we are on the subject of engraving, there are also a number of tattoo removal parlours on the same road – just in case a past love didn’t turn out to be ‘the one’ after all. But, joking aside, Pempelfort is a must for couples who want to tie the knot. Not least, because you and your partner will find plenty of opportunities to put everyday life to the test. "How?", you might ask. Let’s head to the heart of Pempelfort and we’ll show you.
Nordstrasse, which runs into Kaiserstrasse, is the main thoroughfare in the district and largely comprises shops selling the day-to-day essentials. Where better to find out where your similarities and differences lie? You can sample the numerous bakeries that offer everything from crisp baguettes and filled rolls to lavishly decorated cakes and gateaux. It may be a cliché, but why not give each other flowers? Look for a new pair of glasses together, or discuss whether you prefer to buy meat from the local supermarkets or from the independently run butcher’s shops that offer fresh game from the Eifel region. Browse the many bookshops and kiosks, where you are sure to find a romance novel or two. Get tips from each other on updating your wardrobe and take your purchases to a tailor for alterations, or ask each other what you would hang on the wall of your living room: the poster of a famous brand of soft drink or the vibrant Mickey Mouse from The Max Store (Nordstrasse 12). Or what about investing in a more expensive item, such as a designer chair from ASW Schöner Wohnen next door (building no. 12)? And speaking of money matters, North Rhine-Westphalia’s Ministry of Finance happens to be located right here in Pempelfort.
Choosing where to have lunch or dinner is not easy either! You truly are spoilt for choice. You might opt for the French restaurant Les Halles St. Honoré (no. 31) or Eat Tokyo Central Kitchen (no. 28); or perhaps the Pizzeria Lilis Bar (no. 22) is more to your liking? Or you could put together your own dish at The Funky Bowl (no. 46)? You may be more inclined to head to Café Florian (no. 56), where you often see a group of men having their first beer at 9.30am. It’s a similar story at the Weiss Blaue Haus (no. 115), where the menu features beers traditionally brewed in Bavaria.
So you see, you can find more or less everything you need on Nordstrasse – when it comes to shopping and eating out. There is often plenty of hustle and bustle first thing in the morning, with all kinds of people milling around: children on their way to school, pensioners with wheeled walkers, tourists with maps and umbrellas in hand, and smartly dressed men and women on their way to the office. It is hard to imagine that Pempelfort was once sparsely populated, even up to the beginning of the 19th century, when it was located outside the city walls. It was not until 1854 that Pempelfort was made part of the city by the Prussian king. Even then, there was still not very much going on, except perhaps at Gut Pempelfort, the estate where the philosopher Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi once lived. What might he have made of the wonderful mix of people who live here today! People of all ages and walks of life meet in Pempelfort. There are those who have lived here for forever and a day and those who are here for a fleeting visit. There are locals who have celebrated many of life’s milestones here, while others are just starting out. Some people have come here from abroad while others are from families who have lived in Düsseldorf for generations. Some work in privately run companies and others work in local government or at the higher regional court.
No matter their differences, all the people in Pempelfort regularly meet in Hofgarten Park. It is one of the city’s prettiest parks, with the oldest sections dating back to 1769. Some 35 years later, it was remodelled in the style of an English park by landscape gardener Maximilian Friedrich Weyhe. Still today, a fine collection of trees, including mighty oaks and beech trees, reach to the skies above Pempelfort. You see children playing on the swings, joggers and cyclists racking up the miles, and dog walkers teaching their four-legged friends to play fetch. And speaking of teaching – no matter whether we are talking about children or pets: couples who can agree on this subject are almost certainly ready to tie the knot (if they have not done so already)! Here we are not only round the corner from Kaiserstrasse, with all its bridal shops, but also the registry office on Inselstrasse 17. You could later celebrate an anniversary by purchasing a work of art from Christie’s auction house (Inselstrasse 26) or by going to the Tonhalle concert hall, which relocated to the former planetarium in the Ehrenhof in 1978. It is said that Pempelfort seemed to draw prominent names from art and culture as if by magic. As the district became increasingly affluent, it attracted professors from the Düsseldorf Academy of Arts as well as artists from the Düsseldorf School and the Malkasten artists’ association, whose headquarters have been located in Pempelfort since 1867.
Today, these academics and artists would probably engage in lively debate at the Ehrenhof before viewing the latest exhibitions at the Kunstpalast museum or the NRW-Forum. With a critical eye, of course. You could do the same. While looking at works of art from different eras, you may learn something new about your partner. Which style of art do they like? What might they do differently if they were creating a painting? As research shows, discovering new things about your partner is a good way of keeping a relationship fresh. And when you are quite certain that you have found your partner for life, you might start making those important decisions together, such as taking out a life insurance policy. And, if you do, the Ergo insurance group is just round the corner.
This article is supported by REACT-EU.
Images: Düsseldorf Tourism