Zons: A medieval fortress between Cologne and Düsseldorf

This is the third and last part of my series about less prominent travel destinations in Germany. For sure I will add more destinations to this series sometimes later. In two previous postings I wrote about Spreewald and Augustusburg and Falkenlust Palaces. Here I would like to introduce the small town Zons, located between Cologne and Düsseldorf. Zons might be in the shade of these two big and prominent tourist destinations, but I think it is worth to visit. Especially when you are in that region Zons is a nice destination for a day trip.

Zons is a very old city. Earliest documents from the 12th century mention this city. According to archaeological findings, the settlement might be even older and dates back to the 7th century. In the year 1372 AD the city became a toll station for ships going along the Rhine River. To protect the city and the toll station the city walls were reinforced and a fortress (Burg Friedestrom) was built. In the 15th century construction of the fortress and walls was finished. The fortress, massive city wall, city gates, towers and most of the old houses survived until today.

The historic part of Zons is within the rectangular shape of the city wall and stretches about 300 m from north to south and 250 m from east to west. You can walk along the narrow streets through the town, and visit the different defense towers. Or you can also have a walk around the wall and enjoy the view over the floodplain of the Rhine River. To me the city wall and the huge towers were really impressive. A small city needed such a strong defense. Also that most of the city remains unchanged since more than 600 years is remarkable. In this region not many places left showing medieval architecture and the old city grid.

On the right side the city wall. In the background the Mühlenturm.
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City wall seen from the outside of Zons.
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Northern city gate Rheintor.
Many of the historic buildings in Zons have very nice doors.
Another tower, called Pfefferbüchsen, seen from the outside of the city wall.
Juddeturm – 35 m high and a landmark of Zons.
Windmill Mühlenturm
The plaza in front of the church.
Side door of the church St. Martinus.
Rheinstrasse
Altes Zollhaus (old toll house)
Zollturm and Rheintor
Outside at the western wall. On the left side the windmill and parts of the wall can be seen. In front of the wall is a five meter deep moat.

Best time to go

Summer is the best season to go. Other seasons are fine as well, but it might happen that during off-season restaurants, coffee shops or museums might be closed. We have visited Zons in the morning of a weekday, and it was empty; we saw only a few locals. During weekends and good weather there could be more people, but I don’t think that the city will be overcrowded.

Location and how to reach

Zons is about half way between Cologne and Düsseldorf at the left side of the Rhine River. The most convenient way is to go by car. You can take freeway number A57 (E31) and get off at exit number 25 Dormagen. Then follow the road signs to Zons. Or you can take national road B9 towards Dormagen and follow from there the road signs to Zons. A big parking lot can be found north of the historic city part.

By train you can take local trains to Dormagen Bahnhof. From there change to bus 875, 886/887, WE2 (weekend bus) or NE2 (night bus) towards Neuss or Nievenheim Bhf. and get off at Schlossstrasse or Zollstrasse. The bus ride takes a bit more than 10 minutes.

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