European DestinationsGermany

Kaiserwerth- Emperors, Nurses, Saints and Stars

Kaiserwerth is the oldest part of the city of Dusseldorf, and one which has something significance in relationship to everything in the title of this post, emperors, nurses, saints and Michelin stars. On top of that, it is such a beautiful section of the city with a small town feel.

We visited Kaiserwerth on our first full day in Germany.  I am always looking for unique things to do, and I had attempted to glean through all of the tourist information to find the places that locals like to go.  Finally on a German site, I read that Dusserdorfers like to spend time in Kaiserwerth to get out of the city.  Funny enough, when my friend Kathrin and I discussed what we were going to do that first day, she said she thought we should go to Kaiserwerth.  I laughed, as my research had rung true.  But why would an out-of-towner want to visit Kaiserwerth?

Kaiserwerth, which literally translates as the Kaiser's Isle, is founded around what was once a small island on the edge of the Rhine river.  That former island is where the Kaiserpfalz ruins stand, and they are a "must see."  Not only are the Kaiserpfalz ruins a beautiful and peaceful place to explore, there are not all that many places in the world where you can explore ruins of an emperor's palace, a former seat of the Holy Roman Empire, at your leisure, and at no cost.  

If you haven't read the previous post on the Kaiserpfalz, catch up on that here:  

A Trip to Kaiserpfalz Ruins


Shrine of St. Suitbertus

But there is other cool history, and associated things to see in Kaiserwerth.  It was at the beginning of the 8th century that Saint Suitbertus founded a Benedictine Abbey, at what was then just referred to as Werth. The abbey was destroyed only 88 yeas later, but the chapel and monastery gardens still exist today, at the Saintbertus-Gymnasium.

The more recently built St. Suitbertus Basilica now stands nearby.   In order to be designated as a Basilica, a church must hold a "special bond of communion with the pope," and are subject to specific requirements of the Catholic church.  There are only 69 Basilica in all of the US!

The Basilica houses a gilded shrine containing the relic of St. Suitbertus, as a valuable treasure.  I am always fascinated by shrines!  We took a walk through the basilica and it's grounds, enjoying the simple but beautiful Romanesque triple-nave construction.  Regular services are still held at the Basilica.

Chapel in the Diakonie

We also took a walk through the Diakonie, and the numerous beautiful facilities that are part of the center.

Thomas Fliedner founded the Luther Deaconess training, and in 1836 the Kaiserwerther Diakonie, a hospital and deaconess training center.  The teachings in regards to hygiene and health were revolutionary.  

Florence Nightingale would study here and subsequently save an untold number of lives in the Crimean War.  Later she would be responsible for altering the perception of nursing to an entire generation, and become the founder of the modern nursing profession.   Today in Kaiserwerth, the Florence Nightingale Krankenhaus is the primary hospital for the northwest suburban area of Dusseldorf.  In addition, the Diakonie is still in practice training new deaconesses and blazing trails in social work, pediatrics, and geriatric care.  

The Fliedner Cultural Center, gives loads of information about the Deaconesses and Florence Nightingale, and the Pflegemuseum highlights the great profession of nursing at the Pflegemuseum.  The Diakonie is related to the foundings of several notable American hospitals, so these museums might be of particular interset to those in the medical fields.

Hours and times from their websites at the links below.  Those who don't speak German, may need to get Google Translate help

Fliedner Cultural Center:

Museum of Nursing:


Antique Rolls Royce at Galerie Berghof


After all the history, relaxing sounded good for us, and there are plenty of places for visitors to relax with a drink, a desert, or a dinner.   Kaiserwerth has become known as a town of taste and culture, and there are several good choices in Kaiserwerth to experience great atmosphere and food.  In fact, Kaiserwerth has the distinction of having a Michelin starred restaurant!  

Diners wanting to go all the way, and experience the extraordinary dining experience of a starred restaurant, should try Im Schiffchen.  It is a little pricey, but locals say it is worth every cent for a special meal.  But plan ahead!  Im Schiffchen only serves dinner, and reservations are almost always necessary.

For a little more relaxed environment, with funky antiques, and a lovely beirgarten on the Rhine, try Galerie Burghof.  They keep the antique Rolls in the lot, and the view from the edge of the biergarten is the riverfront promenade along the Kaiserpfalz.  You can see a picture of this view in my Kaiserpfalz gallery.  Even the bathrooms in Galerie Burghof have a unique and fun decor.

And those wanting to try some of the regions outstanding Japanese food can try 4 Seasons Kaiserwerth.  The Dusseldorf area has one of Europe's largest Japanese populations, which of course means some outstanding Japanese restaurants.  $ Seasons Kaiserwerth is rated highly.

When we visited, we already had a home cooked dinner planned, but Monty suggested a treat.  We stopped at Lido Eiscafe.  The gelato style ice cream was showcased in the front window, and there was walk up ordering.  The choices were unique and fresh, and we all got a good sized scoop.  Travis had the himbeere (raspberry) and I had the orangen, and of course we both had to give each other's a try.  Both were delicious!

Kaiserwerth also has some lovely parks, and a quaint Marktplatz (market square,) and frankly, it is just beautiful everywhere.  The architecture is old, interesting, and pretty unique, and whether buying or browsing, it is a pleasure to explore the entire city.  I had a hard time putting my camera down.

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