Around 40km northeast of Cologne in the hilly Bergisches Land, WUPPERTAL is not so much a city as an amalgam of towns strung out along the narrow, wooded valley of the River Wupper; they united in 1929 and shortly afterwards adopted the name Wuppertal. Known internationally for its unique suspended-monorail system, the Schwebebahn, and for the Tanztheater Pina Bausch – one of the world’s most renowned modern dance troupes – it’s also the place where aspirin was invented, and was a major centre of the German textile industry. Despite some down-at-heel stretches Wuppertal is redeemed by its hilly, leafy site and by the survival of a large number of buildings from its nineteenth-century heyday, particularly in Elberfeld, which is the larger and more attractive of the two main centres, the other being Barmen, a little to the east.

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