Though we visited Düsseldorf at the end of February/beginning of March, our time in the city was not entirely consumed by the Carnival celebration as we took a peak into the cultural and artistic offerings as well – also checking out human-size spiderwebs suspended from the ceiling and rooms upon rooms of opera costumes. We met our tour guide, Caroline from RhineBuzz, in the lobby of our hotel where we exchanged pleasantries and then were off to explore. During this 2-3 hour ‘We Love Art’ tour, I would experience a surprising fondness for the makings of an opera followed quickly by a most terrifying, life-threatening moment brought on by… art. Yes, art.
Throughout the walking tour we checked out various museums and galleries but to my surprise, the Opernhaus Düsseldorf is what most caught my attention. Now unfortunately I did not have time to actually check out an opera – not that I’m an opera aficionado by any means, but if the opera house captivated me as much as it did, I’m sure an opera would have as well. What I loved about it was getting to observe the behind the scenes workings of an opera as well as learning a bit of its history. During World War II, much of Düsseldorf was destroyed and the Opera House was one of the first public buildings to be rebuilt. We were permitted a look at their costume department where we encountered rows upon rows in rooms upon rooms of outfits from all the various operas they put on. The Opera House has around forty seamstresses and even two people on staff making shoes full time. It was great to see all their detailed work up close. If you’re a student looking to get tickets, you can purchase them last minute on the day of the performance for 11€, but unfortunately this offer is not extended to the general public.
Switching opera ensembles for spiderwebs, we went to K21 Ständehaus, part of the Kunstsammlung art collections, where we saw – no, experienced – in orbit, a life-size installation of a spider’s web suspended over 25 meters (about 82 feet) from the ground. There are about three levels of interwoven steel cables that not only look like an impressive arachnid dwelling, but it actually allows you to play the role of the 8-legged creature yourself. I was 100% NOT keen on climbing onto this 2500 m² (about 26,900 ft²) steel wired promise-of-death. I’ve never been fond of heights and staring down into the interior courtyard of the museum from the height of the roof did not help that. However, everyone else in our group was excited to try it out and my fear of being left out always outweighs my fear of heights.
As I trembled on all fours across the cable wires, I looked straight ahead to avoid glancing down toward the ground that would surely crush my body with one wrong move. Meanwhile, Auston gallantly bounced around the entire installation like a monkey in a tree – or a spider in a web? No, this was definitely more monkey-like movement. His delight of the experience only added to my stress when I then realized I had to fear for both our lives. Thankfully, you only get about ten minutes for the experience and when our time was up I quickly scrambled my way off the net to the safety of the exit. Honestly, though I was freaked out, the experience is worth it and it’ll be open until the fall of this year (2014) for you to test your own limits!
We had a well rounded experience in Düsseldorf from the various viewpoints of art, festivities, dining, and nightlife. I can’t say that the city boasts a great gay scene in comparison to other well known German cities, but it seems to do a hell of a job at gay-friendly events. I have a feeling the scene is there, just not blatantly obvious to the one week visitor. As for the cultural side, Düsseldorf offers 26 museums and over 100 galleries, a pleasant old town, a great shopping and restaurant scene (I didn’t even mention the “Little Spain” part of the city!), and a selection of festivals and events throughout the year – one of the most notable being the Carnival experience that makes the end of February a prime time to go.
So what do you think of the city? Have you ever visited Düsseldorf? Let us know in the comments!