THE first action movie my dad took me to see at the cinema was the Richard Burton/Clint Eastwood wartime classic Where Eagles Dare. It remains one of my favourites.

In one scene, a German played by Derren Nesbitt, attempting to reveal Mary Ure as an English spy delivers the immortal line: "But I seem to recall the Cathedral in Dusseldorf was on the other side of the square."

For this reason alone, it had always been an ambition to visit The Dorf (as some people call it) but seemingly more interesting places to go like Berlin, Munich and Hamburg always seemed to get in the way.

But Dusseldorf without question punches above its weight, to the annoyance of some neighbours like Cologne and Essen.

It's the capital of North Rhine - Westphalia, a state put together in a shotgun marriage in 1946.

Dusseldorf was surprisingly chosen over nearby Cologne as the capital in a region that also includes Dortmund, Bonn and Essen.

One reason was its location.

Another its communication links, two hours from Amsterdam and Arnhem, three from Paris and around five to Munich and Berlin.

City rivalry notwithstanding, the relationship seems to have worked.

The North Rhinelanders bring the party spirit (they are the German equivalent of the Italians) while the Westphalians bring hard work and industry.

They used to have a very bad traffic problems. But they have buried them, spending hundreds of millions of euros putting roads and car parks right under the city centre.

Think of the Ruhr and you probably think heavy industry but that's not the case here. It is beautifully green.

The most popular time to visit is Christmas when there are dozens of markets to explore.

But Dusseldorf makes a great weekend break anytime.

It has fantastisch museums, art, opera, classical music, fashion, food and drink.

The Bolkerstrasse for example has 260 pubs, bars and restaurants in half a square kilometre and some visitors don't get much further than this.

Meanwhile the attractive Konig's Allee has just about every designer brand store you could think of.

Don't get too excited about the historical architecture. There isn't much of that as 85 per cent of the city was destroyed in the war.

But the Altstadt or old town is nevertheless charming, bustling and very civilised.

It sits by the side of the mighty Rhine but Dusseldorf is named for its other river.

Literally, the town by the not so mighty Dussel. The Dussel just drips into the Rhine from a pipe which is why you have probably never heard of it.

The city was rebuilt quickly and functionally in the 40s and 50s but now, is in a new, exciting and striking stage of transition.

The new cityscape is being remodelled by the likes of Daniel Liebeskind and other world renowned architects.

And you must visit the Media Hafen, a huge new 'city' constructed around the old harbour breathing new, hi-tech life into this traditional part of Dusseldorf. Most of Dudorf is walkable but there are also excellent U-Bahn, S-Bahn and tram systems.

The modern Maritim hotel right next at the airport is the perfect base for a stay, a one minute walk from the U-bahn.

As for the cathedral, it turns out there isn't one.

Although there is one in Cologne. You will almost certainly have heard of that.


The first-class deluxe Maritim Hotel Düsseldorf offers 533 sumptuous rooms and suites, three restaurants and three bars and an exclusive wellness complex with pool, sauna, steam bath and fitness area and massage facilities.


Classic Room: from 99€

Comfort Room: from 109€

For the best prices, including a 5% saving by booking directly online, visit


T: +49 (0) 211 5209-0


For more information visit


flybmi offers daily flights from Bristol to Dusseldorf from £88 one way. All fares are inclusive of 23kg of hold luggage, allocated seating, complimentary in-flight drinks and snacks and speedy 40 minute check-ins. For more information, or to book, visit or call 0330 333 7998