Lower Rhine (region)

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Location of the Lower Rhine region in Germany
Map based on the clustering of the pronunciation spacing of German dialects, with Lower Rhine (and West Munsterland) in red.

The Lower Rhine is a region bordering the Netherlands in the west of North Rhine-Westphalia . It is, however, to be distinguished from the lower section of the Rhine of the same name , on both sides of which it extends; the Lower Rhine section begins further south-east at the mouth of the Sieg . The natural definition of the Lower Rhine as the northern part of the Lower Rhine Bay differs from that of the Lower Rhine region because, contrary to common usage, parts of the central Rhineland are also included.

There is no clear geographical demarcation of the actual flat Lower Rhine area from the neighboring landscapes. In addition, the Lower Rhine region does not form a continuous unit geologically, historically, politically or culturally. Occasionally the Lower Rhine region is defined by what it is not: it is not identical with the neighboring Netherlands , with neighboring Westphalia , with the Bergisches Land beginning in the southeast or with the north of the Eifel including Villerücken in the south. Parts of the Lower Rhine overlap with the Ruhr area , which, however, is not part of the historical landscapes. Most can the Lower Rhine area as the land mark, whose inhabitants (the former) Lower Rhine , the Lower Franconian belonging speak dialects. The Lower Rhine dialects form (together with the West Munsterland ) both the smallest (geographical) and the most heterogeneous (linguistic) cluster of the five main clusters within the German-speaking area.


central area

Map of the Lower Rhine region
Lower Rhine landscape
The pollarded willow as a typical element of the Lower Rhine cultural landscape was incorporated into the coat of arms of the Wesel district .

The core areas of the Lower Rhine are the districts of Kleve , Wesel and Viersen as well as the cities of Krefeld and Duisburg . Furthermore, parts of the cities of Isselburg and Oberhausen (districts Alt-Oberhausen and Sterkrade ), the Rhine district of Neuss , the city of Mönchengladbach and the district of Heinsberg belong to the Lower Rhine on the eastern and southern edge .

The area roughly corresponds to the former sovereigns , namely the Duchy of Kleve , the County of Moers and the originally Maasland district of Roermond of the Duchy of Geldern and the northern, left-bank part of the Electorate of Cologne . Before the founding of the Prussian Rhine Province , most of these areas belonged to the Province of Jülich-Kleve-Berg , while the Province of the Grand Duchy of Lower Rhine instead combined areas of what is now the Middle Rhine and the Palatinate .


Düsseldorf , the parts of the Mettmann district close to the Rhine and parts of Leverkusen that belonged to the historic Duchy of Berg are only included in the Lower Rhine in a broader sense . Most of them see themselves as part of the (entire) Rhineland .

On the left bank of the Rhine, the Lower Rhine extends in a broader sense to roughly the line Heinsberg , Erkelenz , Grevenbroich , Dormagen , on the right bank of the Rhine to Monheim and the northern districts of Leverkusen and Cologne . This line also corresponds to the distribution of the Lower Rhine beer specialty Alt .


While there is no Upper Lower Rhine , the districts of Viersen, Heinsberg and Neuss as well as Mönchengladbach and Krefeld are combined to form the Middle Lower Rhine and the districts of Wesel and Kleve are referred to as the Lower Lower Rhine . This classification is roughly followed by the two chambers of industry and commerce on the Lower Rhine: the Lower Rhine Chamber of Industry and Commerce Duisburg-Wesel-Kleve zu Duisburg (which is also known as the Lower Rhine Region ) and the IHK Middle Lower Rhine in Krefeld.

The districts of Kleve, Viersen and Wesel as well as the city of Krefeld founded Niederrhein Tourismus GmbH for tourism marketing . The Niederrhein Cultural Area Association includes the districts of Kleve, Neuss, Viersen and Wesel and the cities of Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Krefeld and Mönchengladbach. The districts of Mettmann, Neuss and Viersen as well as the cities of Düsseldorf, Krefeld and Mönchengladbach have merged to form the Düsseldorf / Middle Lower Rhine region . The Lower Rhine also forms the German part of the working area of ​​two European regions : the Euregio Rhine-Waal and the Euregio Rhine-Maas-North .

The administrative district of Düsseldorf is also occasionally used to try to define the borders of the Lower Rhine. The administrative district includes all of the Rhenish Ruhr area cities including Mülheim an der Ruhr and Essen , but also the northern part of the Bergisches Land that does not belong to the Lower Rhine , the Niederbergische Land , whose dialects are in turn Lower Rhine.


Garzweiler opencast mine
The industrial Lower Rhine north of Duisburg-Ruhrort

The Lower Rhine has a rather rural character in the sparsely populated north and west. Along the Rhine it is shaped by the floodplain . The share of agriculture in the economic volume has decreased (as elsewhere). One of the most striking projects in the Kleve district was the conversion of the former British military airfield Laarbruch in Weeze to the civil airport Niederrhein ; its IATA airport code NRN was derived from Niederrhein .

The city of Mönchengladbach , which in the 19th century was called the “Rhenish Manchester ” because of its textile industry , has, like Krefeld, maintained this branch of industry and the associated specialized mechanical engineering as an important mainstay, albeit with a reduced scope. Krefeld developed - aided by the admission of Protestant exiles (mainly Mennonites ) - into the center of the production of velvet and silk in the 18th century and was able to preserve this tradition so successfully, even under very difficult conditions, that the density of the presence of silk weaving mills worldwide still exists is always unmatched. A specialty of silk weaving in the Krefeld area is the (renowned and leading Europe-wide) tie production .

The chemical industry , which is eminently important for Krefeld, and mechanical engineering are also of great importance in Duisburg. The structural change from the diversified coal and steel industry to the service sector continues in the Rhenish Ruhr area , particularly in Duisburg and Oberhausen, although steel production has overcome its crisis and will continue to exist in the long term. The last Duisburg colliery was closed. In addition to office properties and microelectronics , transport logistics, which is favored by Europe's largest inland port ( Duisport in Duisburg), is also gaining importance. The favorable geographic location at the confluence of the Rhine and Ruhr rivers made Duisburg and the entire Ruhr estuary the largest location for the German steel industry and the center of German navigation on the Rhine .

The state capital Düsseldorf has a strong tertiary sector (trade fair, trade and fashion city, headquarters of corporations and business associations, a large German banking and stock exchange). The Dusseldorf airport is among the busiest of the Federal Republic. The neighboring town of Neuss on the left bank of the Rhine , which operates a large inland port in Düsseldorf , also benefits from the lively office space turnover in this economic metropolis, which is in the focus of the industry . With the Garzweiler open-cast lignite mine and lignite power stations, the energy industry shapes the area around Grevenbroich , the second largest city in the Rhine district of Neuss .


Lower Rhine village on a painting by Paul Köster
Erwin Heerich's sculpture Monument in the Viersen sculpture collection

The people of Lower Rhine are known for their carnival , the goings-on of which is noticed by the public, especially in the southern sub-region. In addition to the Rhenish carnival, shooting is also widespread, with the shooting festival in Neuss being one of the most famous. Most of the clubs on the Lower Rhine are organized in the Federation of Historic German Shooting Brotherhoods (BHDS) and its youth organization, the Federation of Sebastianus Schützenjugend (BdSJ) or the Rhenish Schützenbund (RSB).

In the visual arts , the reception of the Lower Rhine landscape can refer to a long tradition, which it u. a. the Düsseldorf Art Academy and its painting school . The landscape painters who are known as “Niederrheinmaler” include Max Clarenbach , Piet Leysing , Helmuth Liesegang and August Erkens , whose collection is looked after by the Museum of European Art in Nörvenich Castle (North Rhine-Westphalia). The state's most important art museums include the Krefeld art museums , the Lehmbruck Museum dedicated to sculpture and the Küppersmühle Museum in Duisburg , the Abteiberg Museum in Mönchengladbach , the Moyland Castle Museum (in Bedburg-Hau near Kleve ), the Ludwig Gallery Castle Oberhausen such as also the Museum Kunstpalast and the art collection North Rhine-Westphalia with their two locations in Düsseldorf .

The Museum Insel Hombroich in Neuss combines art and idyllic nature . In Hünxe - Drevenack near Wesel there is the Otto Pankok Museum , in which works by the Lower Rhine painter and graphic artist are permanently exhibited. Among the many other museums, for example, find the Lower Rhine motorcycle museum in Moers , the German Textile Museum in Krefeld, which shows one of the most important collections of this topic, the carnival Narrenmühle in Viersen district Dülken and the new Duisburg Atlantis Children's Museum , the largest of its kind in Germany. In the sculpture collection Viersen , around the municipal gallery in the park , there are objects by Tony Cragg , Erwin Heerich , Roberto Matta , Karl Horst Hödicke and the New Star by Mark di Suvero .

The Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus and the Deutsche Oper am Rhein , a theater community of the cities of Düsseldorf and Duisburg, are recognized as nationally recognized theaters . The United City Theaters of Krefeld and Mönchengladbach are the oldest existing German cooperation theater in this form. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia maintains the Burghofbühne Dinslaken and the Rheinisches Landestheater Neuss . Not only children have fun in the Düsseldorf Marionette Theater and in the similar Krefeld house Krieewelsche pappköpp . The Moerser Schlosstheater , the still young Theater Oberhausen , the Metronom Theater (Oberhausener Musical Theater), the Forum Free Theater and the Kom (m) ödchen (Düsseldorf) also enrich the stage landscape. The Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra , the Duisburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the Lower Rhine Symphony Orchestra based in Krefeld and Mönchengladbach, all of which also serve as an opera orchestra, provide a concert for the ears . The most important Lower Rhine authors include Hanns Dieter Hüsch and the writer Albert Vigoleis Thelen, known for his main work The Island of the Second Face .

The established festivals include a. the Xanten Summer Festival (ballet, music and theater) taking place in the amphitheater of the Archaeological Park , the Duisburger Akzente (visual arts, readings, dance / ballet, theater, conferences), Haldern Pop in Rees , Parookaville in Weeze and the Moers Festival , which consists of The Lower Rhine jazz scene is just as indispensable as the Viersen Jazz Festival, which takes place in the Festhalle .

In order to network all activities devoted to research in the region, the Niederrhein Akademie / Academie Nederrijn eV , based in Xanten , supports and promotes the work of educational institutions, museums, archives and associations on the Lower Rhine across borders. She works closely with the Institute for Lower Rhine Cultural History and Regional Development (InKuR) at the University of Duisburg-Essen , which has set itself the goal of promoting interdisciplinary cooperation in the field of research on the cultural history and regional development of the Lower Rhine area and its neighboring areas from the beginnings to to promote the present.


Lower Rhine language area - Green: Limburgish (dark: East Limburg, blue-green: Bergisch) - Orange: North Lower Franconian (dark: Kleverland)

Until the 19th century, Dutch was the most common high-level language on the Lower Rhine. After the Congress of Vienna , this situation changed when Prussia changed the relative tolerance in language issues, which it still had in the 18th century towards the use of Dutch in its Lower Rhine provinces, into a rigid, active language policy, the aim of which was complete suppression of Dutch and the establishment of German as the sole standard and written language. In 1827 in Kleve the use of the Dutch language was banned in elementary schools and churches. With the loss of the last public domains, Dutch has also largely disappeared from private writing (cover books, diaries, letters). Nevertheless, until the last decades of the 19th century, Dutch was secretly spoken and taught in the churches north of Duisburg, so that around 1900 there were still 80,361 Dutch-speaking residents of the German Empire, almost all of them based on the Lower Rhine.

The dialect spoken in the Lower Rhine (Niederrhein-Platt) was not displaced and is (like the Dutch language and its dialects) divided into Lower Franconian . Although it forms a continuum, it is divided into Kleverland and East Limburg . The northern dialects, although they use standard German as the umbrella language , are also counted as Dutch by German linguists .

The dialect is limited in the south by the Benrath line , which marks the spread of the High German sound shift . North of this line, local people who have remained loyal to the dialect say make instead of make . The Ripuarian language area follows south of the Benrath line ; there is maache instead make . This shows a somewhat greater proximity to more southern dialects and also to the standard high German language . Since the line does not follow today's political boundaries and cuts through both Düsseldorf and Mönchengladbach, it is a cultural dividing line, even if it is only marginally relevant. It is not only a “language boundary”, despite the dialect continuum , but also a “cultural boundary ” in terms of building techniques and inheritance behavior. To the north of the Benrath line, the houses were opened from the gable side, south from the eaves side . To the south of the Benrath line there was real division , to the north only the eldest son inherited.

In turn, the Lower Rhine is divided into two linguistic regions by the Uerdinger line . North of this linguistic line one says ek or ik instead of I , south of it instead esch or isch . The Uerdinger line runs from the Belgian lion via the Dutch Roermond and Viersen , crosses the Rhine between Krefeld - Uerdingen and Duisburg-Mündelheim , runs north of Mintard through the Ruhr area and meets the above-mentioned Benrath line again near Wuppertal . The Lower Franconian dialect between the two lines is called East Limburg . The Lower Franconian dialect cultivated north of it is Kleverland . It forms a dialect continuum with the Limburg dialect. In a westerly direction, the dialects are originally continuous with Southern Gelderland. The Lower Franconian dialects differ very clearly from the High German Regiolekt , here called Niederrheinisches Deutsch , which is the most common colloquial language on the Lower Rhine today. On the Issel and in the Hohen Mark runs the unit plural line , which separates Westphalian from Lower Saxony from Kleverland there.

In the area of ​​the Emscher zone , to which the north of Duisburg, Oberhausen and the north of Essen are included, Ruhr German is usually spoken rather than Lower Rhine German.


Maasduinen National Park

The cross-border Maas-Schwalm-Nette nature park is 870 square kilometers and offers numerous cycling tours; The Dutch national parks De Maasduinen , De Meinweg , De Groote Peel and Hoge Veluwe are nearby . In the Wesel district is the Hohe Mark Nature Park , which also includes parts of the Westmünsterland and is 1,978 km² in size. On June 5, 2020, the 158 kilometer Hohe-Mark-Steig is to be opened as a long-distance hiking trail from Wesel to Olfen . The Klever Reichswald represents the largest contiguous forest area on the Lower Rhine.

From 1995, the Kernwasser-Wunderland amusement park was built on the site of a nuclear power plant near Kalkar that had never been in operation .

In 2010 there were more than 2 million overnight stays by tourists in Krefeld and the Kleve, Viersen and Wesel districts, including 17.5% from abroad.

2-Land is a tourism project in the two European regions Euregio Rhein-Maas-Nord and Euregio Rhein-Waal . On the German side, the districts of Viersen , Neuss , Wesel and Kleve as well as the cities of Krefeld , Mönchengladbach and Duisburg are included. A recurring tourist event for the entire region is the Niederrheinische Radwandertag , which takes place annually on the first Sunday in July.


  • Hartwig Beseler: Lower Rhine ( German Land - German Art ). Munich / Berlin 1962.
  • Werner Böcking: Lively Lower Rhine . Sutton Verlag, Erfurt 2013, ISBN 978-3-95400-312-9 .
  • Dieter Geuenich (ed.): The Lower Rhine cultural area. Volume 1: From antiquity to the 18th century (= Xanten lectures on the history of the Lower Rhine: Annual edition 1996 = series of publications by the Niederrhein Academy 1). Verlag Peter Pomp, Bottrop / Essen 1996, ISBN 3-89355-142-5 .
  • Dieter Geuenich (ed.): The Lower Rhine cultural area. Volume 2: In the 19th and 20th centuries (= Xanten lectures on the history of the Lower Rhine: annual edition 1997 = publication series of the Niederrhein Academy 2). Verlag Peter Pomp, Bottrop / Essen 1997, ISBN 3-89355-156-5 .
  • Dieter Heimböckel (Ed.): Language and literature on the Lower Rhine (= series of publications of the Lower Rhine Academy 3). Verlag Peter Pomp , Bottrop / Essen 1998, ISBN 3-89355-185-9 .
  • Irmgard Hansche: Atlas on the history of the Lower Rhine (= series of publications of the Lower Rhine Academy 4). Verlag Peter Pomp , Bottrop / Essen 2004 (5th edition), ISBN 3-89355-200-6 .
  • Wolfgang Müller: Nature on the Lower Rhine (Mercator Library, Volume 43/44), Duisburg 1980.
  • Josef Niessen: Historical hand atlas of the German states on the Rhine. Middle and Lower Rhine . JP Bachem publishing house, Cologne 1950.
  • Uwe Ludwig, Thomas Schilp (ed.): Middle Ages on the Rhine and Maas. Contributions to the history of the Lower Rhine. Dieter Geuenich on his 60th birthday (= studies on the history and culture of Northwestern Europe 8). Waxmann, Münster / New York / Munich / Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-8309-1380-X .
  • Helmut Tervooren: Van der Masen tot op den Rijn. A handbook on the history of vernacular medieval literature in the Rhine and Maas area . Verlag Erich Schmidt, Geldern 2005, ISBN 3-503-07958-0 .
  • Paul Eßer : Beyond the polluted willows. Language and literature on the Lower Rhine . Grupello Verlag, Düsseldorf 2002, ISBN 3-933749-83-2 .
  • Paul Eßer: Lower Rhine, thoughts and stories . Greven Verlag, Cologne 2009, ISBN 978-3-7743-0426-0 .
  • Paul Eßer: Home. Niederrhein , Viersen 2020, ISBN 978-3-75047-080-4 .
  • Birgit Poppe / Klaus Silla: Op Jück on the Lower Rhine . Gmeiner Meßkirch 2013, 2nd edition 2015, ISBN 978-3-8392-1356-8 .
  • Birgit Poppe / Klaus Silla: Windmills on the Lower Rhine . Mercator Duisburg 2014, ISBN 978-3-87463-540-0 .

See also

Portal: Region Niederrhein  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of the Niederrhein region

Web links

Wikisource: Niederrhein  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Lower Rhine region  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Hermann Niebaum, Jürgen Mache: Introduction to the Dialectology of German , in: Germanistische Arbeitshefte , Volume 37, Verlag De Gruyter Berlin - Boston 2011, p. 98.
  2. ^ Werner Besch: Sprachgeschichte: a manual for the history of the German language, 3rd part. De Gruyter, 2003, p. 2636.
  3. ^ Wilhelm Böttger: Land between Rhine and Maas: the Left Lower Rhine. In: Monographs of German Economic Areas. No. 7, 1958, p. 22.
  4. Georg Cornelissen: The Dutch in the Prussian Gelderland and its replacement by the German, Rohrscheid, 1986, p. 93.
  5. ^ Society for the German Language. In: Der Sprachdienst, No. 18: Die Gesellschaft, 1974, p. 132.
  6. Foreign-language minorities in the German Empire . Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  7. ^ Theodor Frings, Gotthard Lechner: Dutch and Low German. Berlin 1966, p. 21 ff.
  8. ↑ The Nature Park is presented in Berlin , accessed on February 4, 2020.
  9. ^ Niederrhein Tourismus, press release January 2011