Sunday 7 August 2011

Düsseldorf, Rhine Harbor Running Route

Click here for route map 
Length: 9 km (5.6 miles), terrain flat

Düsseldorf Running Routes:
Gerresheim hills  
Both Sides of the Rhine  
Rhine Harbor Route  
Stadtwald forrest run  

See the other running routes here! 
NOTE: This was another drizzly evening. What a wet summer this year.

Like a lot of cities, Düsseldorf has recently re-purposed its old harbor as a place for offices and clubs. The new "MedienHafen" (Media Harbor) has been graced by flamboyant architecture: leaning, asymetrical buildings being climbed by weird water-creatures, mixed-in with modernistic glass offices.

NOTE: see the Destinations Tips page for tips about spending your free time in this great town!
Together with a new marina, sleek bridges, a golf course, the new state government quarter (the Nordrhein-Westpfalen state parliament building and other provincial ministries) and then the TV tower, the whole ensemble gives the city's southern waterfront a whole new feel.

The Media Harbor with marina
But only the front part of the harbor, nearest the city, has been refurbished. The back half of the harbor is still in action, as industrial as ever, with container barges and a big power plant.

Together, it all makes an interesting mix and a good waterfront run. So why not give it a try?

We'll start the run near the TV tower, at the foot of the Rheinknie bridge, just south of the Düsseldorf Altstadt (old town). The waterfront promenade from the Altstadt goes right under the bridge towards the round parliament building (Landtag) and TV tower.

Run past Landtag, over the bridge and to the right...
Run past the parliament's atrium with its lit-up fountains and into the park next to the TV tower. Straight ahead, you'll see the path going up to the pedestrian bridge to the right.

Cross the bridge, with a great view of the new Media Harbour to your left. Run atop the dike that surrounds the harbor area, with grasslands and little beaches down along the river to the right.

NOTE: You can also run along the dirt path next to the beaches, if you prefer the more natural surroundings.

Rhine meadows and beaches
The path atop the dike is smooth enough for inline-skaters, and there is normally a steady stream of pedestrians, inliners, bicyclists and joggers heading in both directions.

You will soon come to the public golf course built out in the grass where the river takes a turn to the left. On the left side, you will be running by the industrial harbor, passing the docks and then the big electrical power plant.

Golfers at the driving range
After the golf course, the grass becomes pasture for sheep and goats. I had to stop to watch them as they gathered under a big shade-tree. It was like having a bit of the Serengeti right on the Rhine.

Serengeti on the Rhine
The path heads under a railroad bridge and then on to the car bridge in the distance, the Cardinal Frings Bridge. We'll turn back just before that bridge.

Near the turn-around point, you'll see some red-brick walls protecting some rowing clubs at the village of Hamm, now part of Düsseldorf itself. The path cuts down closer to the water here, and goes over a street ends at the water, an old ferry landing. Just past the landing, the path goes past Hamm's little beach and then rises to the top of the dike.

The jogging trail at Hamm
Right here, where the path hits a street, turn left and take the little marked footpath back along the top of the dike to the ferry landing. Turn right on the street, Fährstraße.

Run the one block to the little chapel on the right side, then turn left and head out on Hammer Dorfstraße. The neighborhood here feels a bit like Holland, with greenhouses out behind every house.

Fährstraße in Hamm: turn left at the chapel
After awhile, you'll come to a white stone church, the St. Blasius Kirche. Turn left just before the church on Opfergasse, and run through the little courtyard behind the church. You will find yourself on a little footpath going out into some fields, with the railway acting as a wall behind them.

The path then turns right and goes by the end-station for the Hamm tram-line. At the station, you'll see a tunnel that goes under the railway. Run through the tunnel, then turn right on the street on the other side, Fringsstraße. This street borders the harbor from the back side.

Turn right here onto Holzstraße
When you get to the corner with the gas-station, follow Holzstraße as it turns right, and just keep following the street all the way back to the Media Harbor.

You'll recognize the Media Harbor when you get there, where the buildings and sidewalks suddenly look modern and up-scale. When you get to the red-and-glass building on the right side, run left into the Media Harbor, to the right side of the black-glass building. If you like architecture, you'll love this next section.

Back in the MedienHafen
You will see several colorful buildings straight ahead, with the quays to the right. You'll go by the new Marriott Hotel, then run by the building covered with the strange frogmen. Take the pedestrian bridge over the quay to the right at the coolly elegant Hyatt Hotel.

The whole neighborhood looks like a modern-art collection, fitting Düsseldorf's reputation as the center of Germany's post-war art scene. But the area lacks the lively venues of some other harbor developments, like Sydney's Darling Harbour. There are just a few restaurants and clubs dotting the landscape, and in the evenings it's pretty empty of people. Too bad!

You'll cross the water, then turn left to run straight back past the most interesting, asymetrical buildings. My favorite is the mirrored, wavy-surfaced building. Just run straight towards the TV tower. At the tower, curve to the left back to the parliament again to reach your starting point at the Rheinknie bridge.
Last part of the run past the TV tower

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