Straddling the Rhine at the point where the Ruhr empties into it, DUISBURG is the Ruhrgebiet’s westernmost city and, with a population of half a million, its third largest. Surviving medieval defences point to a long history, but it was the Ruhr’s nineteenth-century industrialization that transformed it into a major city, the largest inland port in Europe and a centre for steel, coal and engineering. From the mid-1960s onwards the heavy industries declined, but Duisburg has faced its challenges with imagination, hiring British architect Norman Foster to oversee its physical transformation, and though it’s no great beauty the city’s engrossing galleries, reworked industrial landscapes and funky, revitalized docks ensure it’s worth at least a brief stopover.

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