Mönchengladbach: a leafy city and a centre for modern art.

Mönchengladbach is a city that successfully combines urban sophistication with rural charm. Parks and woodland dominate this 'green city', but it is also known for its art and culture, with significant architectural monuments, a world-class museum and a vibrant theatre, variety and performing arts scene.

Alter Markt square, along with Kapuzinerplatz square and the minster, are the key historical features of Mönchengladbach. Today, Alter Markt is a modern, sweeping space adorned with details such as the temperature tower, the 'Man and Time' art installation and the 'square-round' fountain, while Kapuzinerplatz square features a remarkable sculpture by Heinz Mack. A market takes place here three times a week. In the evenings, crowds throng the cafés, bars and pubs. Waldhausener Strasse is the city's main party zone. The people of Mönchengladbach know how to have a good time and let their hair down. This is especially true during the carnival season.

The Shrove Tuesday procession is an old carnival custom that is typically Mönchengladbach. However, the city's cultural gem is the Abteiberg Museum, one of the most important German museums for fine art of the 20th and 21st centuries. Completed in 1982 to plans by Hans Hollein, a star of postmodernism, it is filled with works by Joseph Beuys, Richard Serra, Andy Warhol, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Martin Kippenberger, Markus Oehlen, Heinz Mack, Ulrich Rückriem and Gregor Schneider. Other fantastic but much older artistic treasures can be found in the Minster of St. Vitus, which was awarded the status of basilica minor by Pope Paul VI in 1974. They include significant examples of goldsmiths' work, wonderful manuscripts, a tablet inscribed with Germanic runes, a seal of Albertus Magnus and, stored in a gold-plated shrine, the cloth that is said to have been on the table at the Last Supper between Christ and his disciples. A trip to Mönchengladbach would not be complete without a visit to its two stately homes: Rheydt House, the beautifully preserved Renaissance palace, and Wickrath Palace, which is surrounded by a lake and romantic parklands close to the river Niers. The palatial home of the former stud manager now houses an elegant café and restaurant. After all, even the culturally minded need refreshment.

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