Krefeld, the centre of Germany's textile trade, is three towns in one: neo-classical Krefeld, baroque Uerdingen and the small medieval castle town of Linn. Though the different influences are still easily identifiable, these places have grown together over time to form one city – a city characterised by fine traditions combined with a cheerful demeanour and a refined lifestyle.
The city of silk and velvet: in the 18th century Krefeld was made famous by its textile industry, supplying velvet, silk and brocade to a great many countries. Sumptuous fabrics from Krefeld were the natural choice for emperors, kings and church rulers. The city's many weavers are commemorated with the statue of Master Ponzelar, a silk weaver carrying a roll of cloth on his shoulder. Production took place in the many small weavers' houses, which doubled as workshops and living space. Some of them remain to this day and are now protected by preservation orders. Textiles still play an important part in the city. Every September local retailers, designers and fashion schools present their latest autumn and winter collections in fabulous shows interspersed with spectacular dance performances – the largest outdoor fashion show in the world. This is followed in the evening by live music and after-show parties, and the restaurants are always packed to the rafters. On Whitsun weekend, the medieval flax market is held around Linn Castle and in the old quarter. This is now one of Germany's largest crafts markets. Food and drink is as much part of the Krefeld experience as fabrics and fashion, and the city has a great tradition of local delicacies. These can be sampled in the quaint brewpubs, often dating back to the 19th century, which offer dishes like Rhenish mussels or sauerbraten, washed down with freshly drawn altbier.
Krefeld also has much to offer when it comes to culture and entertainment: a range of theatres, three first-class art museums, the German Textile Museum, the Museum of Silk Culture and a vibrant music scene at the Kulturfabrik and Kulturrampe live venues. Leisure activities are also well catered for, with a zoo, the historical steam train 'Schluff', a racecourse, the Elfrather See lakeside recreation park, Linn Castle and a hunting lodge whose adjoining museum features a fascinating archaeological and cultural heritage collection. All in all, there's much more to Krefeld than being a good place to buy a new silk tie.