“Wings of Desire”, “Buena Vista Social Club” or “Pina”. A three-time-Oscar-nominee, a laureate of the Palme d’Or in Cannes and… a fan of rock music – Wim Wenders has been showing the different sides of his talent for years. His hometown is likewise mysterious and magical.
Ernst Wilhelm „Wim” Wenders was born in Düsseldorf on August 14, 1945, when this industrial city located by the Rhine was completely destroyed due to allied raids. Since his parents worked in the medical industry, it came as no surprise that young Wim started medical studies. However, he quickly abandoned this educational path, and after a quick infatuation with philosophy, turned to painting, photography, and finally films. However, he returned to Düsseldorf many times in his life, nurturing the strong bonds between him and his hometown.
Education, garden and poetry
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU), where Wenders studied medicine, is located at Universitätsstraße 1, approx. 3.5 km from the city centre. You can reach the campus by the railway system (S-Bahn), and if you get off at the “Uni-Ost/Botanischer Garten” stop, you will see the Botanic Garden which the University takes care of. In the Garden, you can find a variety of breath-taking vegetation from all around the world – Asia, both Americas and Central Europe.
It is a good idea to visit the orangery that is located underneath a giant dome, as well as the island surrounded by a water canal. After returning to the city centre, it is worth staying at Bolkerstraße 53 where Heinrich Heine, the patron of the University, was born. Today, you can find a very active centre for literature there. In a café, in the adjacent building, you can try superb coffee and recharge your batteries for further trip.
On a film tape
After his stay in France, where he developed his artistic interests, Wenders came back to Düsseldorf. In 1967 he started working at United Artist Corporation – the German branch of an American film and television entertainment studio. This was definitely the moment when Wim Wenders decided to devote his life to film. Film lovers who share the director’s passion should visit the Film Museum, which hosts a collection of over 500 thousand photographs and 25 thousand posters, as well as a faithful replica of the film studio, which is undoubtedly a great treat. It was here that in 2004 Wenders received the Helmut Käutner award, a director born in Düsseldorf, who was making films in the 1950s
and 1960s. In an interview given shortly before the award ceremony, Wim Wenders admitted that he considered Käutner to be one of the greatest German filmmakers. Therefore, this award was of particular significance for him. The Wim Wenders Foundation (Birkenstraße 47) proves how strongly Wenders was attached to Düsseldorf. Its aim is to promote the director’s works and to support new, promising artists. Under the same address you can also find Philara gallery of contemporary art, which has collected more than 1000 works in the fields of sculpture, photography and painting.
The Rhineland flavours
Although the old town in Düsseldorf is small, it has earned the nickname “the longest bar in the world”. It comprises over 200 restaurants and four out of five breweries where you can taste the local beer. The director himself is a beer gourmet, who, when visiting his hometown of Düsseldorf, likes spending his free time in the old town drinking the famous Altbier. This bright brown ale with dense, creamy foam, is a true pride of the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Altstadt district also offers a variety of different dishes.
What is worth trying, then? One of the rarities is a black pudding with cooked apples, potato cake and Kottenbutter – a sandwich made with rye bread, smoked meat, onion and mustard. The Rhineland is also famous for its sea food – especially worthy of recommendation are mules in white wine. Wim Wenders has taken special liking to the so-called Reibekuchen, that is potato pancakes with apple filling. Its savory version includes sour cream and cabbage salad.
Must-see sites in Düsseldorf
build in the 16th century, this town hall is considered a symbol of the city. Today it houses the city parliament, but tourists can visit the area around it freely, and once a week get a glimpse of the interior as well.
King’s Avenue, in short “Kö”. This urban boulevard surrounded by greenery is a great place both to take a stroll and shop in one of the many exclusive boutiques.
the most modern district of the city. This old port has changed into a space for business and... nightlife. MedienHafen does not only include futuristic office buildings, but also numerous pubs and restaurants.
a 240.5 metre high television tower, the highest observation deck in the city, erected in 1981.