Düsseldorf. Fly c. 11.00am from London Heathrow to Düsseldorf and settle into the hotel. Behind the polished black marble facade of the Nordrhein-Westfalen Gallery, most of the leading European painters of the earlier 20th century are represented by high quality works, a quite remarkable collection as good as any in Europe. First of three nights in Düsseldorf.
Essen. The wooded valley of the River Ruhr was at the heart of Germany’s industrial revolution, and Essen was its chief city. The cathedral possesses a dazzling medieval treasury, particularly rich in rare 10th and 11th-century bejewelled goldwork, among the best in the world. Since 2010 occupying David Chipperfield’s serene and spacious building, the Museum Folkwang has outstanding collections of Romantics and Expressionists as well as French 19th-century and Post-Impressionist paintings (five Van Goghs).
Düsseldorf, Wuppertal. A walking tour of Düsseldorf finishes at the Kunstpalast (Palace of the Arts), a cultural forum of the 1920s. The Glass Museum here is one of the finest in the world; the paintings range from mediaeval to modern, with Rubens and the 19th-century Düsseldorf school among the highlights. Another Ruhr excursion, to the Von der Heydt-Museum in Wuppertal, a collection of international importance from the 16th century to contemporary, strong on Dutch and Flemish, German Romantics, French Impressionists and Expressionism.
Cologne, Brühl. Drive upstream from Düsseldorf to Cologne, which under the Romans and during the Middle Ages was the largest city in northern Europe. Its collection of Romanesque churches is without parallel, and we visit one of the grandest, Gross St Martin. The Wallraf Richarz Museum is one of Germany’s finest art galleries, the collections embracing much of western art. Drive out to Brühl and Schloss Augustusburg, a splendid Baroque palace with magnificent gardens. First of two nights in Bonn.
Bonn. The day begins with a walking tour of the attractive historic centre (Baroque episcopal palace, Romanesque cloister). The tour ends at The Beethoven House, where the composer spent his early years, it is one of the best composer museums anywhere. Travel by U-Bahn (underground railway) in the afternoon to the Museums Mile, a string of modern museums including the Kunstmuseum, another fine art collection, especially good for Expressionists. An alternative would be the Haus der Geschichte, an excellent historical museum covering the period after 1945.
Cologne. The second visit to Cologne starts in the Kolumba Museum, an innovatory display of diocesan treasures in a captivating new building by Peter Zumthor. A converted Romanesque church is the setting for the Schnütgen Museum, a large collection of mediaeval sulpture. Cologne Cathedral is one of Europe’s greatest Gothic buildings, and it houses the Adoration tryptych by Stephan Lochner and the Shrine of the Three Kings (c. 1180–1225), the largest reliquary in the world. Those returning to England today fly from Düsseldorf and arrive at London City Airport at c. 6.15pm. Those joining The J.S. Bach Journey are driven to Eisenach and Mühlhausen, a journey of c. 4 hours including a stop, arriving before 8.00pm.
Price, per person
Two sharing: £2,330 or £2,160 without flights. Single occupancy: £2,650 or £2,480 without flights.
Flights (Euro Traveller) with British Airways (Airbus 320); travel by private coach; hotel accommodation as described below; breakfasts; 2 lunches and 4 dinners with wine, water, coffee; all admissions; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer and tour manager.
Steigenberger Parkhotel, Düsseldorf: a 5-star hotel excellently located next to the Hofgarten and Altstadt. Décor is traditional with contemporary furnishings. Hotel Königshof, Bonn: a traditional 4-star hotel overlooking the Rhine and close to the Altstadt. Single rooms throughout are doubles for sole use.
The tour involves a lot of walking in historic centres, where coach access is restricted, and a lot of standing in museums and churches. A good level of fitness is essential. You will be on your feet for lengthy stretches of time and there is a significant amount of travel by coach (although distances are relatively short). Average distance by coach per day: 25 miles.
Between 10 and 22 participants.
Combining this tour with The Johann Sebastian Bach Journey
As flights are included in the price of this tour, the festival will be charged at the ‘without flights’ price. A transfer from Cologne to your festival hotel is included. Please choose ‘arriving 12th May’ when making your festival booking.
Before booking, please refer to the FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.