Spacious, lively, down-to-earth, modern and simultaneously rooted in history, maritime yet located in the midst of the city: other European cities can only dream of a jewel like the Duisburg inner harbour. It was originally constructed between 1850 and 1950 for loading and unloading grain and colliery timber for the Ruhrgebiet. Nowadays it is an attractive city suburb which combines working, residential and leisure areas in a single harmonious entity. Water is the linking element – small wonder in a city with the largest inland harbour in the world. An impressive chain of listed grain mills and silos runs along the canal beside bridges, embankments and promenades. They are now used for art, cultural events, trade and commerce. Here you can find the Küppersmühle museum, renowned for its top-class collection of contemporary art. A part of the exhibition on Duisburg history in the nearby Duisburg City Museum informs visitors about the creation of the milling industry in the inner harbour. Children can have a great time in the Legoland Discovery Centre. The “Garden of Memory”, an artistic response to the Nazi terror flanked by the vital new Jewish community centre, is a reminder of a dark past and more hopeful future. Other attractions in the Duisburg inner harbour include modern apartments and offices occupied by renowned architects, a yachting marina with shops for sailing equipment, and last not least a varied range of different bars and restaurants along the promenade on the banks of the harbour.
This unique urban ensemble owes its existence principally to the citizens of Duisburg. A grassroots initiative arose in 1972 to protest against the demolition of the empty historic grain silos. Citizen’s initiatives have a long tradition in the city. Indeed the construction of the harbour in the mid 19th century was only undertaken as a result of the active commitment of a group of local merchants. Success came quickly. Within a short space of time the grain-loading area gave the Duisburg inner harbour its reputation as the “breadbasket of the Ruhrgebiet”. Today it is a jewel of contemporary industrial heritage.