Wuppertal is the biggest city in the Bergisches Land and is the region's main centre for business, education, industry and the arts. It is above all known as the city with the suspended monorail – as Wuppertal's official slogan proudly proclaims. From the windows of the monorail, visitors look out onto a confident, historically aware city, with an amazing amount to offer.
The name Wuppertal is actually a relatively modern designation that first appeared on maps only 80 years ago. But its various constituent towns had been there long before that, and in 1929 Elberfeld, Barmen, Ronsdorf, Cronenberg and Vohwinkel were merged to form Barmen-Elberfeld. In 1930, the name was changed to Wuppertal after a referendum – a fitting choice that describes the city's location in the Wupper valley. Wuppertal's most famous landmark, the unique suspended monorail, follows the course of the river for a few miles through the city centre. Every day, over 80,000 passengers use it as a reliable means of transport and a sure-fire way of beating the traffic jams. The monorail opened in 1901. Since 1997, its supporting structures have been undergoing a programme of renewal in keeping with the original design. The stations are also being modernised. Like the suspended monorail, the city's dance company Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch has also established a global reputation. The acclaimed choreographer Pina Bausch was the ensemble's artistic director for 36 years. She reinvented and redefined dance during her tenure, combining drama, modern dance and musical theatre to create a new form of expression. Performances take place at its current home, the opera house in Wuppertal, although tickets need to be booked well in advance as the ensemble is often on tour. But an evening of culture can also be enjoyed in the historical Stadthalle Wuppertal, one of the loveliest concert and conference venues in Europe.
While there is no doubt that the Stadthalle, built in Wilhelminian style, is magnificent, it is also surrounded by a number of other striking edifices. Despite being bombed in the Second World War, Wuppertal has around 4,500 architectural monuments – the second highest concentration of historical buildings in North Rhine-Westphalia. Architecture of the 19th century is particularly well represented, with a whole host of remarkable buildings. The Briller Viertel, for example, is one of the largest and most architecturally consistent of Germany's exclusive mansion suburbs. Also of interest are the trade exhibition buildings from Germany's industrial heyday, found near the centre of the Elberfeld district. Elberfeld is also home to Wuppertal's most significant art gallery, the Von der Heydt Museum, which presents an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs from the 17th century to the present day. The exhibitions focus on French 19th-century painting and Modernism, including works by major artists such as Paula Modersohn-Becker, Max Slevogt, Lovis Corinth, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Wassily Kandinsky, Otto Mueller, Emil Nolde, Franz Marc, August Macke, Alexej von Jawlensky and Max Beckmann. Since opening in the 1950s, the clock museum in Elberfeld has built up one of the most comprehensive collections related to the history of timekeeping – and is even interesting for visitors who have all the time in the world. Some people would certainly wish this was the case so that they can devote some time to Wuppertal's extensive shopping areas, where malls, arcades and boutiques have something to suit all tastes. You can discover the delights of the local cuisine either in sophisticated restaurants, or just as easily in the quaint, welcoming pubs on almost every street corner. Those in search of a good night out won't be disappointed by Wuppertal's many clubs and bars. There are also plenty of places to relax and recover from the night before. About half of the city's area is given over to farmland, gardens, woodland and parks – including one of the most beautiful zoos in Germany and Tony Cragg's sculpture park, where you can admire contemporary works of art as you stroll around.
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