Many people may ask where the hell is this Wuppertal. Even more will ask what on earth is the reason to go there.
Well,you won’t find any ancient monuments out there. Not even medieval ones. Ok, let’s be honest, there are no real monuments at all in Wuppertal. It is just a middle sized city in Germany, not far from Cologne or Dusseldorf. Not really scenic or historic one for that.
But still, people from around the world keep coming there. And most of them come just to use its public transport.
At this moment you might think that I must be crazy. Nobody comes to London, for example, just to travel on the underground. Sure, people are fascinated by the Underground, especially the geeky types, but they usually see something else too.
True, but in Wuppertal they don’t have just an underground, they have something much, much better. It is called the Schwebebahn.
Trains run every few minutes and the single ride tickets cost just 2.50 Euro. And, as I already mentioned, on board you can always meet travelers from around the world who visit Wuppertal just to use the Schwebebahn. So what is all the fuss about? It is just a train. Isn’t it? Well not quite.
It is a unique and very scenic “hanging railway”. Its double-carriage trains run on tracks which are above the ground. The whole system (which is actually a single line only) has 13,3 km in length from which 10 km is 12m above the river and remaining 3,3km are 8m above the city streets.
Sounds cool? Wait till you ride it. You will board the trains via one of the 20 stations which are located above the streets or above the river, which is fun in itself. Some might still say, it is just a shorter version of the Dockland Light Railway in London (DLR). Wrong again. The big difference is that in Wuppertal trains are actually suspended under the tracks. When you get into the train you can feel that the whole carriage is moving. But the best fun begins when the trains run between the stations. Especially on curves you can feel like the carriages are tilting outside due to the centrifugal force. And it travels really fast. Well, at least fast enough to properly feel all the forces. It is awesome. It is also probably one of the cheapest attractions in Germany (not counting its free motorways without the speed limits of course, but then you have to pay for petrol anyway)
The most amazing thing is that this system is more than hundred years old. It was open by the German Emperor William II on 24 October 1900 and it is the oldest monorail system in the world. It was build to connect separate communities in the narrow industrial valley of the river Wupper. Then in 1929 those towns were connected to form the city of Wuppertal. So, some can say that Schwebebahn was actually the father of the city.
It is also considered one of the safest mode of transportation in the world. There was just one fatal accident during the whole 108 years of operation.
Apart from the Schwebebahn there is not much else to see in Wuppertal. It is a neat and tidy city (as one can expect in Germany) but quite a boring one actually. It is good place for a day trip from Cologne which is of course much more interesting city.
To visit Wuppertal take a train from Cologne main railway station and you will be there in less than an hour.
I recommend this trip to anyone with even vague interests in railways or industrial past. The suspended rail is a real toy for boys, but of course I still recommend this trip for the girls too. Especially the cool ones.
Have a nice ride!!!